Many of the spaces we feature on Remarkable419 are noted for their distinctive architectural elements or styles. While this historic barn has some great design features in its wooden framework, it's the stories this space holds inside its walls that make it truly remarkable.
David and Clarissa Harroun purchased property about a half-mile east of Sylvania in 1835. The young family built their home on what we know today as the campus of ProMedica Flower Hospital. In 1858, this handsome barn was added to their growing farmstead. The Harrouns, along with two of David's brothers and their families, were some of the earliest settlers in the Sylvania area. Their grange would eventually become one of the first dairy farms in the area, and the property would be held by succeeding generations for close to 100 years. Besides bringing a pioneering spirit to this small Northwest Ohio farming village, the Harrouns also brought strong abolitionist ideals from Upstate New York, a center of abolition activity during the canal era.
Although it was more than likely super-secret back in the day, we know and celebrate now that David, Clarissa, and their son Edwin Harroun put their abolitionist principles into action in Sylvania as members of the Underground Railroad. They quietly aided freedom seekers from the south to find their way to emancipation in Canada. To avoid detection, David secretly transported enslaved travelers from Maumee to Sylvania, covered in hay in his lumber wagon at night. Once they arrived at the Harroun farm, the freedom seekers were hidden in the family's home attic or the hayloft of this barn. The Lathrop family, who lived on a farm just west of here, assisted the Harrouns by hiding travelers in a hidden area of their kitchen, accessed through a brick oven. From Sylvania, freedom seekers were led north to Monroe County, Michigan, and then directed toward Detroit to cross into Canada.
It is a powerful feeling to stand inside this barn and appreciate the courage and perseverance of the African Americans who braved the dangers of escaping enslavement and the compassion and decency of the Harrouns and Lathrops who helped secure freedom for people they didn't know. The Harroun Family Barn—a symbol of courage, hope, and compassion—worthy of being preserved for future generations.