To celebrate abolitionist and Akronite John Brown’s birthday, a party at his historical West Akron home will be held Thursday, May 9, at 5:30 pm.
Visitors to Brown’s home during the open house will see restorations and renovations underway to the 1830s structure by the Summit County Historical Society. New displays depicting his life as a family man, farmer and freedom fighter are also being installed. Cake and ice cream will be served.
The second phase of the comprehensive facelift, completed last year of the nearly 190-year-old house, ensures the structure is warm, safe and dry. Guests will learn about Phase Three, accessible to all, and see the new interactive exhibit in the original front two rooms that housed as many as 14 Brown family members from 1844 to 1854. Woodrow Nash, local artist and Society board director, is designing busts of the five African American men who served in Browns army on the raid of Harpers Ferry. They will be featured in the new exhibit designed by CEI and funded in part by the National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and The Association for the Study of African American Life and History
Brown and Colonel Simon Perkins, son of Akron-cofounder General Simon Perkins, were partners at the time in the wool industry. Brown raised sheep on property that included the Perkins Stone Mansion and his adjacent home rented from Perkins. Brown was acknowledged to be a good neighbor with vested interest in the community.
While in Akron, Brown’s abolitionist actions escalated, including helping freedom seekers escape using the Underground Railroad. He later headed raids in Kansas that contributed to the territory becoming a U.S. free state. In 1859, his infamous raid on a federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Va., led to Brown being convicted of treason.
The Harpers Ferry raid and Brown’s subsequent hanging escalated tensions between the North and South that the Smithsonian Institution recognizes as the beginning of the Civil War era that continued until Lincoln’s assassination.
Some call Brown a terrorist, while others would label him a patriot. Whether a madman or martyr, “His legacy needs to be celebrated and explored.”
The John Brown House is located in Akron at the intersection of Copley Road and Diagonal Road, across from the Perkins Mansion.