The North Star Preserve

46223 U.S. Rt. 20
Oberlin, OH 44074

Park/Facility open for private events only.
To make reservations, call the main office at (440) 458-5121.

Henry's Barn at The North Star PreserveHenry's Barn at The North Star Preserve, Oberlin

The North Star Preserve is home to Henry's Barn and is located on U.S. Rt. 20 in Oberlin, OH. It is located across U.S. Rt. 20 from the Oberlin Wal-Mart. The property was donated by Richard and Kathleen Nord with the idea that Henry's Barn would be built there. There is a rich history (detailed below) with Henry's Barn and the deconstruction and reimagining of a historic barn once inhabitated by a former slave, Henry R. Thomas, that was located on the H.A. Johnson estate on South Professor St. in Oberlin.

HENRY'S BARN


Wellington CreekHenry's Barn interior

Henry’s Barn at The North Star Preserve is the Metro Parks’ newest facility. This barn has a lot of history, as it has been re-imagined from a historic barn that was located behind the Johnson House on South Professor St. Henry Thomas was a freed slave that worked for the Johnson family. Henry’s Barn has a great deal of character to offer with a beauifully rustic interior and an outside patio overlooking a pond.

Henry's Barn is available to rent for the public for any large scale event. The room holds 100 people and rents for $1,250 for a Saturday night from 4 - 11pm which includes a two-hour set-up window. A list of preferred caterers will be provided or you can bring your own.

For more information or to reserve Henry's Barn, contact Vanessa at (440) 458-5121 or vklesta@metroparks.cc.

HISTORY


Wellington CreekJohnson mansion located on S. Professor St., Oberlin, OH

In 1885, 20 years after the Civil War came to a close, construction began on the Johnson estate located at 216 South Professor St., Oberlin, OH. Businessman Albert H. Johnson and his wife, Rebecca Johnson (an 1866 graduate of Oberlin College) were both very civically minded and contributed to the growth and success of the entire town of Oberlin. The mansion on the estate's Queen Anne style and the adjacent barn's 2nd empire style revealed the pride and individuality of the time of their construction. The barn itself was a unique piece of architecture boasting a mansion-style roof and timber-frame construction.

Because of Oberlin's openness to integration and equal rights of African-Americans, it was a common place for escaped slaves to relocate to and seek freedom, education and opportunity. At their South Professor St. home, the Johnsons employed several servants, including an African-American former-slave named Henry R. Thomas. He cared for the entire estate, including the mansion, barn, carriages and landscape. Through his years of work with the Johnson family, Henry became a reliable and valuable part of the Johnson home and the town of Oberlin. After Albert Johnson's tragic death in 1899, Henry continued to work for Rebecca Johnson. After her passing in 1915, the Johnson family provided an income for life for Henry.

Wellington CreekHenry R. Thomas

Henry Thomas was born into slavery in Virginia around 1857 near the banks of the Ohio River. His home of Tyler County was a collection of farms and orchards that dependded on slave labor. As a young child, Henry was sold twice. Two Quaker abolitionists named Georger and Sarah Jenkins operated out of Mount Pleasant, OH near the present-day West Virginia border. They helped to free Henry Thomas and sent him north to find work in the household of their daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Albert H. Johnson.

A man named Charles Martin Hall purchased the Johnson estate in 1911 and donated it to Oberlin College. In 2016, when the barn was no longer in use, Oberlin College made the connection with the Lorain County Metro Parks to obtain it. Richard and Kathleen Nord struck up an agreement with the Metro Parks to donate the land on U.S. Rt. 20 as long as the barn was re-imagined on this land in order to celebrate the rich history associated with the original barn on the Johnson estate.

When the original barn that sat on the Johnson estate was dismantled, careful documentation took place to assess how the barn was constructed so that it could be re-assembled again as it was. The original framework was reused and all of the original barn siding has been used as the interior walls of the newly constructed Henry's Barn.

 

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