Home » Articles » Items Salvaged from Capt. Root House

Items Salvaged from Capt. Root House

Capt. Aaron Root house in Sheffield. April 9, 2014.

Capt. Aaron Root house in Sheffield. April 9, 2014.

On April 9, 2014, a team from the New Indian Ridge Museum, in cooperation with the Sheffield Village Historical Society worked to salvage building items and other architectural artifacts from the historic Capt. Aaron Root House.  The house is in disrepair and will be demolished soon.  In its place, a dollar store will be built.  The location is the southwest corner of State Routes 611 and 301 in Sheffield Village (town of Sheffield organized in 1824).  The French Creek is located nearby.

A Root

Capt. Aaron Root. (Photo courtesy of the Sheffield Village Historical Society)

At the age of 14, in 1816, Aaron Root traveled from the Berkshire Mountains of Sheffield, Massachusetts with his parents (Henry and Mary Day Root) and siblings, to what became Sheffield, Ohio.  They were the first family to settle here.  Capt. Aaron Root (1801-1865) was a mariner and of note, he worked to transport runaway slaves across Lake Erie from the northern Lorain County area.  He did this in conjunction with Robbins Burrell, Jabez Burrell’s son, also of Sheffield Village.  (Jabez built the early brick house in Sheffield, now a part of the Lorain County MetroParks).  The runaways were housed in the grain barn at the Burrell Homestead, and from there transported to the Black River.  The French Creek was another watercourse also of importance.  They then were taken across Lake Erie, often with the help of Capt. Root, captaining the schooner.

Col. Nahorn stands in the space that the front door once occupied at the Capt. Aaron Root House.

Col. Nahorn stands in the space that the front door once occupied at the Capt. Aaron Root House.

The Root House is a structure of local and national importance, having been connected with the Underground Railroad.  The House has been vacant and in disrepair for many years.  It measures 35′ by 25′ and is two stories with a basement.  The foundation is largely of field stone and small boulders.  We were able to document the structure and salvage material from the house thanks to our cooperation with the Sheffield Village Historical Society, and in particular Dr. and Mrs. Herdendorf, president of the Society, respectively.

We were able to salvage an original stair tread from the front main staircase; handmade bricks from a chimney; square nails; a couple of wood pieces from the wood lath; an old metal light fixture; a while porcelain door knob; some slate from the roof; some molding; and two oak thresholds from inner doorways.  Many of these items will comprise a new display at the Museum and act to document this local historic structure.  We are very excited to report that we will be able to use the stair tread that we salvaged from the main staircase in the Capt. Aaron Root house, in the restoration project for the staircase in the Shupe house.  (Of course, the tread will need much work with sanding, staining, &c.) So, soon we’ll be walking upon one of the steps that the Roots walked upon!

And of course, we took numerous photos to document the place, a few of which may be seen below:

Col. Nahorn stands at the original main staircase of the Capt. Aaron Root house.  We salvaged one stair tread from this original case.

Col. Nahorn stands at the original main staircase of the Capt. Aaron Root house. We salvaged one stair tread from this original case.  It is poplar wood.

Detail of the original staircase.

Detail of the original staircase.

Detail of staircase.

Detail of staircase.

Detail view of a floor joist in the lower level of the house - most likely American beech wood.

Detail view of a floor joist in the lower level of the house – most likely American beech wood.

Foundation detail of the House, showing it is comprised of field stones and other various stones.

Foundation detail of the House, showing it is comprised of field stones and other various stones.

Detail of one return portion of the roof architecture.

Detail of one return portion of the roof architecture.

Even though the floor in one room completely rotted and fell into the basement, the structure is surprisingly sound, comparatively.  This is out course a testament to the sturdy construction and architecture of these early structures.

Even though the floor in one room completely rotted and fell into the basement, the structure is surprisingly sound, comparatively. This is of course a testament to the sturdy construction and architecture of these early structures.