Rankin House, Ripley, Ohio

Ripley OH

This past Labor Day weekend, Greg and I took a road trip on Hwy 52 east of Cincinnati. The road follows the Ohio river, and within 50 miles of the city, you hit some pretty significant historic sites.

Our first stop was the birthplace of Ulysses S. Grant. He was born in a one-room home in Point Pleasant, Ohio, and lived there only a year before the family moved to nearby Georgetown, Ohio. The home had a few personal artifacts that were donated by the Grant family including the leather-covered chest he brought to West Point and his presidential stationery. The tour guide pretty much forced me to take a photo with this life-size cutout of Grant. He was my height but thinner during the war years before adding on all that “presidential weight.”

US Grant

Grant Memorial Bridge

The Grant Memorial Bridge, shown above, is on the street in front of the property.

About 30 miles further down the road was Ripley, Ohio, the site of the John Rankin House, which was my primary destination on this little trip.

Rankin plaque

The Rankin House was a stop along the Underground Railroad for over 2000 escaped slaves. The house stands high atop a hill overlooking the Ohio (the first photo was taken in the backyard of the house). The family would put a light in the window each night to guide those crossing the river to safety. From here, the family members would take the slaves to their next stop, usually in the same night that they would arrive.

The Rankin House is my favorite kind of historic home—it has a good story and lots of pretty decorative touches. As soon as I walked in the house, the painted linoleum on the hall floor caught my eye.

Rankin painted linoleum

The hallway led to the sitting room. The people who restored the house were able to dig through the layers of paint to determine how the room was painted while the Rankins were there.

Rankin living room 2

The brother-in-law of John Rankin built the fireplace mantles in the home. Each had decorative cutouts along the top edge.

Rankin living room

All of the furniture and decorations in the home were period pieces, not from the family. But they were still pretty. Here’s the rug in the sitting room.

Rankin living room 3

The bedroom featured another brother-in-law-made mantle and more stenciling on the walls. The restorers found a section of the original painted walls and replicated it throughout the room.

Rankin bedroom mantle

There was a third mantle on the first floor in a second bedroom. I love how each one is a bit different, and it’s the notches in the top that tie them all together.

Rankin dining mantle 3Upstairs there were two large bedrooms: one for the boys and one for the girls. The Rankins had thirteen children, and at least some of the grown children lived there with their own families at times; at one point there were nineteen people living in the home. Here’s a rug from the girls’ room and some pictures tacked to the wall of the boys’ room.

Rankin girls rug

Rankin boys room

On our way home, we took a different route that took us past the Ulysses Grant Boyhood Home and Schoolhouse in Georgetown .

It’s pretty amazing all the history there is to see in areas not too far from Cincinnati. Watch out, Honey, I think I see some more road trips in our future.

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