Situated in the heart of Columbus, Ohio’s Town Street Historic District, the Greek revival and Italianate styled Kelton House was originally built in 1852 by Fernando Cortez Kelton. A prosperous dry goods wholesaler from Vermont, Kelton quickly rose to prominence in this central Ohio community. Kelton and his wife, Sophia, were active supporters of the abolitionist movement, to the point of making their home a stop on the “Underground Railroad.” In 1864, the Keltons took in a young runaway slave named Martha Hartway, making her a member of their family for ten years, until her marriage to the Kelton’s carpenter, Thomas Lawrence. Kelton had become so respected in Columbus’ society that he was selected to be a pallbearer in the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln as it passed through the city on the way to Illinois for burial. Following Kelton’s death, the home passed to his son, Frank, who eventually traded houses with his brother, Edwin. Edwin’s daughter, Grace, one of the first interior designers in the U.S. ( she consulted with Jacqueline Kennedy during the 1960’s redecoration of the White House), was the last to reside in this home (dying here in 1975). The Kelton House was then left to the Columbus Foundation, which leased it to the Junior Leaque of Columbus for the purpose of turning it into a museum, in order “...to promote understanding of the daily life, customs, and decorative arts in 19th century Columbus.” This is exactly the type of historic site we love to visit.
It was in these rooms that runway slave Martha Hartway lived for ten years as a member of the Kelton’s family..