In 2014 as the city administration began improvements at Spring Hill Farm on East Pioneer, plans also began developing to preserve the circa 1805 Federal-style building on the property. The small 12’ by 20’ structure came to be known as the “Deed House” for its likely early use as a place where Western Reserve land was deeded out by Ebenezer Sheldon, Aurora’s first settler. Meanwhile the Aurora Historical Society was likewise lobbying to move and preserve the Deed House, and by 2015 a collaboration had formed between the Historical Society and the city.
The city moved the building on July 31, 2015 to the Pioneer triangle and renovations began. Exterior work and landscaping were funded by the city, and the Historical Society undertook interior improvements through a significant fundraising campaign for the project. The Historical Society entered into a lease with the city to use the Deed House as a visitor center and showpiece of Aurora’s rich Western Reserve heritage.
Putting it all together for the grand opening involved city parks and service department staff, local contractors, local organizations and volunteers. Reverend Kevin Horak of The Church in Aurora appeared as first Western Reserve minister Joseph Badger to lead the dedication.
“The cooperation between the city and Aurora Historical Society has created a permanent memorial to Aurora’s founders,” Historical Society President John Kudley noted. “What was only a vision that has evolved over the last several years has become a reality.”
“A large crowd and beautiful weather made the event even more special,” Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said. “In an unprecedented partnership, the city and the Historical Society shared a vision and came together to promote local history and create a new park to enhance our Town Center.”
Photos by Jeff Gerber