Not Just Another Stop

Services for Real Estate Pros with Gryphon

 Squeezed into a cistern twenty-five students look around in awe. This is actually where the escaped slaves slept, hidden from their pursers as they made their journey north. This small dark, damp room represents a giant step toward freedom.

A project of the Junior League of Columbus, the Kelton House Museum and Garden is the only documented stop on the Underground Railroad in the City of Columbus that is regularly open to the public.  Over the past 25 years, the Kelton House has educated Columbus children and adults about local history through the eyes of the Kelton family, which occupied the home from 1852 until 1975.  The Museum presents tours, lectures and workshops, and continues to be the cornerstone of the East Town Street Historic District.  

For visiting students, the story is told through the eyes of Martha Hartway, who escaped slavery in Virginia and made her way to Columbus.  She was found hiding in the shrubbery outside the Kelton family home by Sophia Kelton and taken in.  Martha remained with the Kelton family for ten years until she married Thomas Lawrence, a free black carpenter.  Martha and Thomas were married in the Kelton parlor.  Their story provides the authentic touchstone that makes a visit to the Kelton House extraordinary.

Historical re-enactments, encampments and Victorian teas are other opportunities to explore the wonders of Kelton House. Docents, dressed in traditional Victorian garb, led visitors through the rooms which have been carefully restored to reflect their 1850-1900 appearance. The furnishings and decorations, many of which are from the collection of the Sophia and Fernando Cortez Kelton family allow guests, young and old, to experience life in the Victorian era.

 In addition to providing a wonderful opportunity to learn about 19th century urban life and decorative arts in Columbus, the Kelton House served as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Through the efforts of the Junior League, the Columbus Near East Side Historical District was created. Friends of the Kelton House and Junior League Members worked to raise neighborhood awareness about historical preservation transforming the area into the vibrant community that can be found today.

The Kelton House Garden provides an opportunity for refection and solitude. Breathing in the floral fragrance, visitors can pause for moment and escape from the busy reality of the twenty first century to a milder gentler era. The garden often plays host to special events ranging from the annual Easter egg hunt to fairy tale weddings.

The Kelton House is located at:

586 E Town St, Columbus, OH  43215

Comments (8)

Rich Kruse
Gryphon USA, Ltd. - Columbus, OH
Great post hun.  This will be a wonderful addition to the Columbus Localism content.
Mar 21, 2007 05:58 AM
Melissa Kruse
Gryphon - Lewis Center, OH
Thanks. Glad you like it. It's such an amazing museum and it has had such an impact on the neighborhood.
Mar 21, 2007 06:03 AM
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL
The Junior League always has the best projects and they are so involved all over the place!  What great history Melissa - thanks for sharing.  And you guys should go smooch somewhere else!    :)
Mar 21, 2007 01:15 PM
Melissa Kruse
Gryphon - Lewis Center, OH

All right , all right, we'll leave the smooching out of the rain. The Kelton House is amazing though. We had over 3,000 students through last year. I'm a volunteer reader there and it is great to watch the kids as they hear about the underground railroad and then see where the slaves actually hid on their journey to freedom. It's also a great learning experience for league members to actually run a museum. Several members have gone on to jobs in the museum industry because of the training they received at Kelton House.

I really enjoyed your blog on the pink house. I have seen it while in Miami but didn't know the history behind it. It was great to learn more.


Mar 21, 2007 01:30 PM
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL
My 10 year old son just did a report on the Port Royal Experiment and it was such a great learning experience - it's really amazing to know what a long way we have come - THANK GOD FOR THAT!!  You guys can smooch anytime, don't listen to me....I'm jealous because Rick doesn't blog.
Mar 21, 2007 01:49 PM
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
Actually seeing and touching makes the history real for the students. It's so much more significant than just reading about it in a book.
Mar 26, 2007 11:34 AM
Melissa Kruse
Gryphon - Lewis Center, OH
Sharon, it is amazing to watch the kids expressions as they hear about the underground railroad and realize that people actually hid right where they are standing. The Kelton House does an amazing job of bringing history to life. It is such an incredible place, I really had fun blogging about it.
Mar 26, 2007 01:12 PM
Alix Pinzon
Open Mortgage, LLC NMLS # 2975 - Downey, CA
Hi Melissa, As you know, the spirit of Active Rain is to help each other.  The best way that I've found is by hitting each others' website, to improve internet search rankings.  I checked out your website, and I liked the yellow bird logo.  If you have a second, please reciprocate the favor by checking out my website at
Jan 21, 2008 06:38 AM