The stately Greek revival home known as the Lathrop House was the residence of Lucian Lathrop, an ordained minister of the Universalist Church, a denomination which maintained a strong anti-slavery stance, who moved to Sylvania with his wife Larissa in 1848. A proud descendant of generations of abolitionists, Lathrop was a supporter of the Free Soil Party and protested against the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. While Lucian Lathrop served as an elected State Representative in the Ohio Legislature, he also engaged in the outlawed activities of the Underground Railroad. Lucian along with neighbor David Harroun worked together as part of the Underground Railroad. David would bring fugitive slaves in a false bottomed wagon from nearby Maumee to Sylvania as part of their escape to freedom in Canada. The slaves would stay either at the Harroun home or barn or in a secret room behind the kitchen fireplace in the Lathrop House. It was during a 1939 remodel that the owners uncovered the secret room.
The Lathrop House was one of many locations that were scattered throughout the state of Ohio where men, women and children fleeing slavery found shelter and safety. Harboring runaway slaves was illegal in America after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Despite the consequences, abolitionists around the state continued to assist fleeing slaves in their journey to freedom. "Conductors" directed the escapees to the next safe house, barn, or business as they ventured ever northward. Several major routes of escape developed during this period. One of those began near Cincinnati and followed the Miami & Erie Canal north towards the western end of Lake Erie and towns of Maumee, Perrysburg, Toledo and Sylvania. From there, the former slaves journeyed to Adrian or Detroit and then across the water to Canada.
In 2016, the Sylvania Historical Village took over management of the Lathrop House located in Harroun Park on Main Street just south of the Historical Village property.
Today the lower level of the home is open to guests on Sundays April through October from 1:00 - 4:00 PM or by appointment. The Lathrop House also provides on site or in the classroom educational programs. See our Educator's menu for more information.
Guests can learn more about the important role Ohio played in the Underground Railroad and see the secret hiding room of the Lathrop House. Each August, the Friends of the Lathrop House present a special Celebration of Freedom featuring reenactors, live music and special tours.