County Historical Society
506 South 6th St
Ironton, Ohio 45638
"The Building of a Dream"
- Betty Burcham
- Larry Freeman
- Dave Milem
- Charles Schellenger
- Gary Stout
The Lawrence County
Museum has certification by the Ohio Association of Historical Societies
and Museums. It is operated by the Lawrence County Historical Society, a
corporation since 1925. The building in which the Museum is housed is referred
to, in the Registry of Historical Homes of the Rankin District, as the Colonel
George N. Gray House.
According to tax records, Elizabeth Ferguson purchased
these two one-half lots in 1870 and that same year the main structure
was built and valued at $2,200. The records further show that the property
was transferred, on July 5, 1878, to Elizabeth Gray, wife of Col. George
N. Gray. An addition, valued at $2,100, was added to the back of the house
before the Gray family took up residence in December, 1878. The tower
was a part of the 1878. The tower was a part of the 1878 addition. In
March 1882, an attic fire damaged ceilings and roof in the amount of $1,000.
When fire repairs were made, the Grays had the front bay window added.
In November 1891, another addition was constructed and consisted of the
back corner room (which at present houses the Museum Store) and the room
directly above it. In January 1892, the veranda on the upper side of the
house was enclosed and converted to a conservatory for plants.
The style of the house is Italian Villa. The original
windows are set in plain stone lintels and are double hung, two over two
lights. The main entrance is double-leafed paneled doors, with semi-circular
lights. The cornice line under the roof is boxed, with a decorative frieze
and brackets. Outside walls are of solid brick, three deep. Inside walls
are of brick, two deep, and are plastered over. A tower with portholes
is the most prominent feature of the house. The roof is truncated hip
style with wrought iron cresting.
Col. Gray came to Ohio as a young boy and developed
an interest in the iron furnaces. He returned to his native Pennsylvania
to complete his education and returned to this county to teach school.
Gray answered the call of his country in 1861, joining the 53rd regular
Ohio Volunteers to fight at Shiloh and many other battles of the Civil
War. He then joined the Navy and participated in several naval battles
of the war.
The 1880 census lists residents of the house as George
and Eliza Gray, John (12), Charles (11), George (7), and Emma (5), J.
Wilson and Isabelle Rankin Humphreys (Mrs. Gray's parents) and Ricka Long
(a servant born in Germany).
Mrs. Gray's grandparents, Rev. and Mrs. John Rankin,
visited the Grays in 1873 and at that time, Rev. Rankin, a noted abolitionist,
wrote his autobiography. Mr. Rankin died at their home in Kansas in 1879
and in 1881, Rev. Rankins came to live with the Gray family. Rankins died
in this house March 18, 1886, and his body lay in state in the front bay-windowed
room. One of the upstairs rooms contains Rev. Rankin's furniture and other
We are told that Ulysses S. Grant, a parishioner of
Rev. Rankin at Ripley, Ohio, visited with Rankin in this house.
All three sons of Col. Gray served in the Spanish
American War. Charles died while serving in that war. It was his family's
belief that adequate medical facilities could have prevented his death.
To relieve such suffering of others and in memory of their son, the Grays
bought the former home of W.D. Kelly and donated the property for use
as a community hospital. The Charles S. Gray Deaconess Hospital was formally
opened April 5, 1900. A memorial marker to their son's memory now rests
in the herb garden beside the Museum.
The house remained in the Gray family for almost 100
years. early in this century, electric fixtures replaced the gas lights.
A first floor bathroom was added. In 1988, the Lawrence County Historical
Society acquired the property, using funds raised through contributions
of community-minded individuals, members, and businesses.
The Museum features several permanent exhibits, wile
some areas have exhibits that change four or five times a year. Annual
| Ice Cream Social
|| Ist Sunday of July
| Apple butter Day
|| 1st Saturday of October
| Christmas Exhibit Opens
|| 1st Sunday of December
A very special event in Ironton is the Museum's Candlelight Church Walk
on the first Saturday evening of December.
Victorian Teas are being added to the schedule.
The Society cordially invites you to become
a member. The membership year is January through December
| Life Member
| Joint Life Member
The Society also accepts Memorial Gifts!