MADISON TOWNSHIP – Efforts to raise $20,000 are the next step in a long-term restoration project at the historic Unionville Tavern.
The tavern, a stop on the Underground Railroad, ran on hard times and was in danger of being torn down in the 2000s until a restoration committee banded together and started working to obtain and maintain the building.
The $20,000 would help the organization trigger another $185,000 state grant that would be used to do foundation work on the structure, said Erin Cicero, president of the Unionville Tavern Preservation Society.
Cicero said the group has been hosting events on the first Friday of every month to get people back around the structure and enjoying community activities. She said the events were paid for by a grant from the Lake County Visitors Bureau.
The events took place outside adjacent to the structure and included local musicians and wine tastings.
Cicero said a popular event is the first Friday in October, but it is already sold out. The ghost studies event includes local ghost stories and music, she said.
The event will be attended by about 120 people. "We have over 1,000 people interested on Facebook," she said.
The tavern was closed to the public in 2006 and the condition deteriorated for many years until the society was eventually able to obtain the structure and begin efforts to restore.
In 2017 a project to rehabilitate the portico and replace the roof was completed, Cicero said. She said there have also been substantial "stabilization" projects.
Cicero said area contractors work with the group to check out the building regularly to insure the safety of the structure.
After the foundation work is complete a much larger fund-raising project will begin, Cicero said. She said a capital improvements project will continue with efforts to grow the committee and the infrastructure to help make the project a reality.
She said a feasibility study was completed indicating the project could be completed at a cost of $3.5 to $4 million.
The UTPS website indicates a log cabin was built on the site in 1798 with a second cabin added later on and by 1803 it was a stop on the first mail route between Warren and Cleveland. It was later purchased by William Whitman and Calvin Cole and was extended into a two-story structure, the site states.
By the mid 1800's the tavern was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was closed around 1916 and was restored and reopened in the 1926. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 26, 1973.
The preservation society was formed in 2011 and has been working on the site ever since.
More information and ways to donate can be found at savethetavern.org.