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Dunham Tavern, Cleveland, Ohio

Updated on March 15, 2011
Dunham Tavern Museum, Cleveland, Ohio
Dunham Tavern Museum, Cleveland, Ohio

It was around 1820 that young Massachusetts native Jane Pratt Dunham and her husband Rufus traveled west to settle in the 'Lands of the Western Reserve of Connecticut' (as northeastern Ohio was then known). Within a few short years of their arrival, the Dunhams would build a homestead along the east-west Post Road connecting Buffalo and Detroit by way of Cleveland. That road was, in part at least, to eventually become Euclid Avenue.

The very first building to rise east of today's East 55th Street, the Dunham House (and later Tavern) is the oldest local structure that still rests atop its original foundation. As it was some miles out of Cleveland (a fair day's ride by horse) along a well-traveled route, the Dunham's way station was heavily frequented. A drinking room was added by the 1840s, and the re-named Dunham Tavern quickly became a favored setting for social and political gatherings alike.

For a period of 80 years beginning in the mid-1850s (when the property was sold by the Dunhams), the Tavern reverted to use as a private residence for a succession of owners. As Cleveland continued to grow and expand eastward, however, the property's residential character became increasingly hemmed in by the commercial activities of encircling areas.

By 1936, The Dunham Tavern Corporation was formed by citizens concerned with the historic site's preservation and restoration as a Colonial-era farmstead. That group undertook maintenance and reconstruction of the original structure, and a re-collection of its furnishings and various household fittings and goods. It has also created The Heritage Trail — a complete self-guided walk-through of the house, site and gardens.

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