Welcome To The Lawrence Register Genealogy and History for Lawrence County Ohio
Home  |  Contact Us  |  Search  |  What's New | About Us |

Set as Homepage
Bookmark Us
  Search Site
Print this Page Print Page

Lawrence 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 artifacts.

   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 events are:
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

Student $2.00
Individual $10.00
Friend $50.00
Family $15.00
Patron $100.00
Life Member $1,000.00
Joint Life Member $1,100.00

The Society also accepts Memorial Gifts!  

copyright 2012, Martha J. Martin