Friday, December 30, 2005

The Old Miami House in Waynesville, Ohio


"The Old Miami House" ~
also known as the "Morrow House", the "Rogers House", and the
"Cornell House". Building is no longer extant.

There had been a tavern building on the northeast corner of Main and North Streets from 1827 on until 1955 when it was demolished to build a diner. Over the years it had many owners and business purposes. This tavern, the old 1808 Samuel Martin log cabin tavern at the north end of Main which survived until after the Civil War, and the Hammell House were the three primary tavern/inns in Waynesville after 1824. "The Old Penitentiary", a two story log tavern in Miami Square on the old public square, was not used as a tavern after 1824. According to Judge John W. Keys:

"In 1827, the tavern owned by Samuel Cornell & Son was built by Joshua Ward. Israel Woodruff first kept a tavern there and I think he only remained there one year when Ward took possession of it. Ward did not long remain in it, but traded it to Stephen Cook for the farm where Levi Cook lived in 1870. The house about 1828 and 1830 was kept by Brice Curran and in 1835 by S. M. Linton, in 1837 by Frederic Stanton, Stanton assigned it to David Evans and Mahlon Bateman, they conveyed it to James Harris: Harris sold to Richard Morrow, since which it has been owned and kept by Jerry Parkhill, Job Rogers, William Rogers, J. H. Weaver, and perhaps others. During the time it was owned by Harris, Benjamin Kemp and Alfred Lee were engaged in the business there."

"About 1839, Benjamin Barnhart fitted up the house, which was later purchased by John Thorn, and kept a public house there for several years after he closed the business in 1862. John L. Thorn, the new owner, also continued to keep a public house at that location" (Taken from a series of articles written by Judge Keys that were published in the Miami-Gazette and the Western Star).

Judge Keys also remarks that the accounts of travelers mentioned that three or four taverns or inns existed in Waynesville. Unfortunately they do not mention names.

The first meeting of the Little Miami Railroad Company was in the Linton's Hotel (owned by S. M. Linton from 1835-1837) in Waynesville on May 13, 1836.

Legend states that the building was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. There was a hidden room in the attic. To gain entry to that room, a person needed to press on a board in the wall. There was said to be a hidden tunnel entrance into the building with the steps from the tunnel hidden between walls and tunnels leading to other buildings in Waynesville. Tunnels led from the town down to the Little Miami River.

The Old Miami House was also the first location of the Waynesville National Bank in 1875.

The old tavern building was also the home of the Wayne Township Library from 1917 to 1954. The first residence of the library was in the I. H. Harris Exchange Bank building across North Street on the southeast corner of Main and North (no longer extant). Shortly after its founding, the library moved into one of the back rooms of the old tavern on the northeast corner. For the history of the Waynesville Township Library (later known as The Mary L. Cook Public Library) and Dr. Mary L. Cook, its founder, see: Dr. Mary Leah Cook 1869-1964 .

For more information see:
1882 Beer's History of Warren County, Ohio (Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co, 1882), pp. 571-572.
Waynesville's First 200 Years, 1797-1997 (The Waynesville Historical Society, 1997, p. 39.

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