Heritage Sylvania: Historical Village and Lathrop House

Toledo Time Travels  |  By Tedd Long  |  07/15/2019 9:00 am

Do you know why Sylvania's Main Street was once called Division Street? It was the dividing line between two of the city's founders: General White and Judge Wilson. General White wanted his part of the newly founded village, east of Division Street, called “Whiteford” and to be part of Michigan. Judge Wilson favored “Sylvania” and the state of Ohio for his portion west of Division. When the infamous Toledo War ended in 1836, Michigan and Ohio settled their differences but Wilson and White never did. After their deaths, the two areas were rejoined, and in 1867 the Village of Sylvania, Ohio was incorporated. You can learn more about this story and more through Heritage Sylvania and its archives, historical village, museum, and beautifully restored Underground Railroad stop.

Heritage Sylvania covers regional history from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. Its Heritage Center Museum is a turn of the century home set up as it would have been for Dr. Uriah A. Cooke, who used a portion of the first floor as his medical office from 1897 to 1942. Today, the Doctor’s office, exam room, bedroom and parlor are preserved as they were when Dr. Cooke lived and practiced on Main Street in Sylvania. 

The Historical Village features a furnished 1840 log home; the Sylvania train depot—dating back to 1858—the oldest existing depot in Ohio, a reproduced 1850 timber frame barn that houses a blacksmith shop, a reproduction of the Quarry Stone Schoolhouse that originally stood in the village, and a replica of the Toledo Interurban car barn with tracks to allow a 10-ton, fully restored electric locomotive built for the Toledo & Western Interurban Railroad, and a caboose similar to one used by the Toledo, Angola and Western Railroad to move in and out for viewing and classes.

The Historical Village grounds also contain the Sister City Garden and Gazebo, celebrating the alliance of Sylvania with its Sister City of Woodstock in Ontario, Canada and a variety of retail shops.

Just a short walk down the street from the Historical Village is the Lathrop House, a stately Greek Revival home built by Lucian and Larissa Lathrop in 1850. The Lathrops, along with their neighbors, the Harrouns, worked together as part of the Underground Railroad.  David Harroun would bring fugitive slaves in a false bottomed wagon from nearby Maumee to Sylvania. On their way to Canada and freedom, the escapees were sheltered in the Harroun farmhouse or barn or in a secret area of the fireplace in the Lathrop kitchen, accessed through a brick oven. Today, the Lathrop House serves as an important reminder of days when men, women and children fleeing slavery found shelter and safety in homes owned by "conductors" on the Underground Railroad.

In addition to its historical venues, Heritage Sylvania also offers access to local history archives and interesting programs including wood carving, walking tours, and History Half Pints, a monthly series of learning programs for preschool kids ages 3 -6.

More information for planning your visit are available at www.heritagesylvania.org/.

Plan Your Visit

What: Heritage Sylvania: Historical Village and Lathrop House

Where: 5717 Main Street, Sylvania; 419-517-5533

Hours: Heritage Center Museum open 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through mid-December; Sylvania Historical Village open 1 to 4 p.m. the first Saturday of each month through October, Lathrop House open 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through mid-November.

For the Kids: Kids will enjoy the seasonal activities offered at Heritage Sylvania.  

Cost: Free.

Parking: Parking is free and located relatively close to the venues.

For more local history, check out my history blog at www.holytoledohistory.com.