The stately Greek Revival home known as the Lathrop House was the residence of Lucian and Larissa Lathrop.
The Lathrop family moved to Sylvania in 1848, and the house was built in 1850. A proud descendant of generations of abolitionists, Lucian Lathrop was an ordained minister of the Universalist Church, a denomination which maintained a strong anti-slavery stance. Larissa Titus Lathrop was raised in the Quaker faith, another sect with anti-slavery sympathies, and spent the first 42 years of her life in Rochester, New York, a hotbed of abolitionism.
While Lucian Lathrop served as a State Representative in the Ohio Legislature, he and his family also engaged in the outlawed activities of the Underground Railroad. The Lathrops along with neighbor David Harroun and his wife Clarissa Dodge Harroun, worked together as part of the Underground Railroad. David would bring fugitive slaves in a false bottomed wagon from nearby Maumee to Sylvania.
Journeying northward to Canada and freedom, the escapees were sheltered in the Harroun farmhouse or barn or in a hidden area of the fireplace in the Lathrop kitchen, accessed through a brick oven. It was during a 1939 remodel that the owners uncovered the secret space.
The Lathrop House was one of many locations that were scattered throughout the state of Ohio where men, women and children fleeing slavery found shelter and safety. Harboring runaway slaves was illegal in America after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Despite the consequences, abolitionists around the state continued to assist fleeing slaves in their journey to freedom. “Conductors” directed the escapees to the next safe house, barn, or business as they ventured ever northward. Several major routes of escape developed during this period. One of those began near Cincinnati and followed the Miami & Erie Canal north towards the western end of Lake Erie and towns of Maumee, Perrysburg, Toledo and Sylvania. From there, the former slaves journeyed to Adrian or Detroit and then across the water to Canada.
Due to the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic, the Lathrop House remains closed. We hope to be able to open later this summer.
The Lathrop House also provides on site or in the classroom educational programs. See Educational Programs for more information.
This summer our annual reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place via video. Click here to watch our video
Due to the ongoing pandemic, our annual Celebration of Freedom Event scheduled for August has been cancelled. Click here for more details