Stoner House Renovations Reveal Underground Railroad Treasures
Tammy Moon says her father, Charles Moon and owner of the 1850 Stoner House, wasn’t sure if he agreed about her plans for renovating the historic building on South State Street in Uptown Westerville.
He was especially concerned when she began removing plaster from the walls and ceilings, worried that the project might become too difficult, too expensive, and not be best for the building.
Moon changed his mind once he saw the original arched doorways and the rich colors and textures of the red brick walls. Now he sits outside on the brick patio while his daughter, her daughter, and a few workers continue to tear away several generations of wall coverings and paint to reveal the original interior.
Once completed Tammy Moon will open “The Sign Shop At The Stoner House,” where customers will be able to make their own customized signs. Each customer will receive a small section of the original plaster lathe strip burnished with a note designating it has been made at the Stoner House.
The house is believed to have been built in 1850 by George Stoner who used it as a tavern, an inn, and a spa using an adjacent spring as the water source. Stoner created a stagecoach line connecting Columbus and Westerville using the house as his waystation. He also used the stagecoach to carry escaped slaves from Columbus using the luggage compartment as a primary hiding place.
A small passageway in the basement is believed to be where escaped slaves were hidden during their travel through Westerville on the Underground Railroad. Although there is no direct evidence which section of the basement might have been used to hide slaves, the passageway does match descriptions attributed to historical artifacts about the house.
After renovations are completed Moon plans to offer tours of the historic house.
The Stoner House is on the National Register of Historic Places for its role in the Underground Railroad.