Historical Society of Old Northfield hosts Palmer House Museum open house

by Nicole Rosselot

The Historical Society of Old Northfield welcomed Nordonia Hills community members into the Palmer House Museum on Sept. 18 for a free, fun and educational journey back through time.

The Sunday afternoon open house was held in conjunction with the Ohio Open Doors program, sponsored by the Ohio History Connection – a statewide, nonprofit history organization. This year’s Open Doors program ran from Sept. 9-18 and encouraged building and landmark owners throughout Ohio to host special events and programs for the public.

The Palmer House, at 9390 Olde Eight Rd., was built around 1844 by William Palmer. It is “historically significant because it is one of the last four or five vertical beam construction [beams at right angles situated to the highest point] homes in Ohio,” said HSON member Carolyn Devine. She explained that the Nordonia Hills City School District owns the house, but HSON maintains it and manages the museum.

HSON holds open houses on the fourth Sunday of each month in the spring, summer and early fall, but historical society member and trustee Rick Devine, Carolyn’s husband, hopes that participating in the statewide Open Doors program generates renewed interest in local landmarks like the Palmer House Museum.

“We want to get the message out to people that there is a museum here, and we’re small, but we’re trying to provide the history and the background for all four communities,” Rick said. “A lot of people think because the museum sits in Northfield Center that we only cater to Northfield Center, which is far from our intention. We have artifacts that cover all of the communities, [including Macedonia, Northfield Village, Northfield Center Township and Sagamore Hills Township].”

Although Sagamore Hills is the youngest of the Nordonia Hills communities, the museum houses a treasure trove of artifacts from Sagamore residents. The oldest object in the museum is a brass pot donated by a descendent of the Nesbitt family, whose farm included what is now Nesbitt Road in Sagamore Hills.

“When the development went in on Nesbitt Road, a direct descendent contacted us and she had artifacts from the Nesbitt farm,” Rick explained. “She presented us with a bell, a clapper and the brass pot, and she gave us the complete family history of the Nesbitts dating back to the 1600s.” The family history showed that a descendent brought the pot with him from Scotland in 1735 and “it got passed down through the family generation after generation, and that is just remarkable,” he said.

The Palmer House Museum is filled with treasures like the brass pot, connecting the residents of the Nordonia Hills community to their shared history. A player piano, pump organ and a cabinet of antique glassware are displayed in the msueum’s music room. Another exhibit features trench art, which is made from materials linked to armed conflict, a Civil War powder horn and a WWII army uniform belonging to Northfield Center veteran Charles John Schoepf. Women’s fashion and accessories, hymnals and books, toys, tools and appliances are also on display, helping visitors imagine what it was like in the early days of Old Northfield. ∞

Historical society members trustee Rick
Devine and his wife Carolyn, greeted visitors.
Rick appeared as Mushy Flapjack, a
fictional, historical character he created
to make history come alive when speaking
to Boy Scout troops. Photos by Nicole

The brass pot, bell and clapper shown were
donated by a descendent of the Nesbitt