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Archaeology Investigation Tours at John Rankin House Begin Aug. 26; Volunteers Can Participate

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    • Emmy Beach

(Columbus, OH): The home of abolitionist Reverend John Rankin in Ripley, Ohio, is currently undergoing a restoration to return the home to its 1830s appearance. During the restoration, the John Rankin House Historic Site is offering restoration and history tours that showcase the exacting restoration work in process. Starting August 26, visitors will also be able to observe the archaeological investigation work and may have the chance to hear about the work happening that day from a member of the Gray & Pape team, the private cultural resources management firm from Cincinnati conducting the investigation.

“This is a rare chance for the public to see professional investigative work and museum-quality historic restoration work in progress,” said Chris Buchanan, the Ohio History Connection’s project manager for the Rankin House restoration. 

Researchers from OHS are hopeful that the findings of the archaeological investigation will help shed light on some unanswered questions about the Rankin home. The main focus of the investigation will be the site of a former kitchen wing. OHS researchers believe that the kitchen wing was added on soon after the house was constructed in 1829. Although the wing was torn down very early in the 1900s,the limestone foundation of the structure remains intact beneath the soil.There is only one known photograph of the house that shows the kitchen wing.OHS plans to reconstruct the kitchen wing and they hope that new information from the archaeological investigation will help them to do that with as much historical accuracy as possible.

Archaeological Investigation tours begin August 26and will end when the investigation is complete, approximately on September 13.Tours are included in the restoration and history tours already underway.Restoration and historytours are thirty minutes long and begin every half hour starting 30 minutes after opening and ending 30 minutes before closing:

  • Wednesday- Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sunday:12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Visitors are asked to wear close-toed shoes. Because restoration work changes daily, there may be times that a particular area or the entire house will be closed. Tours will still go on, continuing to tell the story of the Rankin Family and how they helped over 2,000 slaves escape on the Underground Railroad.

Admission: $4/adult; $2/child (6-18); OHS Members/FREE. The John Rankin House is located at 6152 Rankin Hill Rd., Ripley, Ohio, 45167. For more information visit, www.ohiohistory.org/rankin or call 800.752.2705.

Archaeology Investigation Volunteer Information: Individuals interested in volunteering for the archaeological investigations must register in advance by contacting Brian Mabelitini, Principal Investigator with Gray & Pape, at 513-287-7700, or e-mail at bmabelitini@graypape.com. Volunteers will need to bring work gloves and should be up-to-date on their tetanus vaccine.

Rankin House

Managed locally by Ripley Heritage, Inc., the John Rankin House Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark, is included in the National Underground Railroad to Freedom Network. Built in 1829 the Rankin House was home to abolitionist and Presbyterian minister John Rankin, his wife Jean, and their thirteen children.It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves passed through the Rankin House, sometimes as many as twelve at a time. The home sits on a large hill, known as Liberty Hill, almost 650 feet above the water level of the Ohio River. A light sat in the front window as a signal to slaves in Kentucky that it was safe to cross the river.

About Gray & Pape, Inc.

Established in 1987, Gray & Pape, Inc. is a national consulting firm specializing in cultural resources management and historic preservation services. The firm has conducted hundreds of projects in Ohio, including archaeological testing at the Rankin House. Our experience with historical archaeological projects includes everything from urban archaeology to rural farmsteads. www.graypape.com

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About the Ohio History Connection

Founded in 1885, the non-profit Ohio History Connection (http://www.ohiohistory.org)provides a wide array of statewide services and programs related to collecting, preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history,archaeology and natural history through its 58 sites and museums across Ohio, including its flagship museum, the Ohio History Center in Columbus. For information regarding the Society, contact Shannon Thomas, Communications Specialist, Ohio History Connection: 614.297.2317, sthomas@ohiohistory.org.

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