The historic Barnhisel House in Girard will be open for the holidays from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 6, 12 and 13. The house, located at 1011 N. State St., is traditionally open the second and fourth Sundays each month.
The Girard Historical Society took control of the house in 1976, after the historic farmhouse, built in 1840 by Henry Barnhisel, had set empty for 10 years. Prior to the acquisition, the house had been divided into apartments by a former owner. Much of the house has been restored to replicate the original homestead depicted from photographs of that era. The stairway was completely restored with cherry railings and walnut stair treds and the summer kitchen was rebuilt based on historical accounts.
''I didn't think we could ever accomplish this,'' said Michael DePaul, a trustee with the Girard Historical Society.
The summer kitchen was a work kitchen, DePaul said, where servants did everything from butchering to laundry. During the main house kitchen renovation, evidence of an enclosed, narrow spiral staircase encased in a closet was found, which led to rooms upstairs believed to be the servants quarters, DePaul said. It wasn't uncommon for mansions of that era to have separate hidden entrances to the work rooms for the servants, enabling them to fulfill their duties without being seen by guests.
At one time the house was used as an inn, and was believed to be part of the underground railroad system, although there has never been documented evidence found that would prove that theory, DePaul said.
The historical society, working on the three-story house only with donations and fundraisers, have managed to maintain the integrity of the historical era. Members of the historical society took rooms to restore, DePaul said. DePaul and his wife, Gail, were responsible for renovating the main kitchen and dining area, which wasn't used in summer to keep the heat from permeating the rest of the home.
''The kitchen was finished as it was,'' DePaul said. ''It's pretty doggone authentic.''
The Blackstone Room, the front parlor, is named for the Blackstone Funeral Home, which contributed to its renovation. The main living room, the Curl Room, is named for society members and renovators, George and Sally Curl. George Curl, now deceased, was a photographer, DePaul said, and took several old photographs of the city during the 1800 and 1900s, enlarged the photos and mounted them for display. The Curl Room is also the display room for several cast iron antique toys and trains, some of which were part of George Curl's collection.
All of the bedrooms in the house also contained large closets, which were a sign of affluence of that era, said Roseann Myers, historical society public relations director.
''This is one of the few homes built at that time that had closets,'' Myers said.
While historical society members were in charge of keeping the house authentic to its roots, most of the actual work was completed by Ray and Carly O'Neill, Myers said.
The house was named an Ohio Historical Site with a dedication held June 12, 2004.
During the open houses, society members give guided tours of the mansion, dressed in the era of the 1800s. In addition to society members, holiday decorating was done by the Girard Moccasin Garden Club, Girard Herb Society, Flowers and Alternatives and Creative Design and Landscaping. Refreshments will be served during the tours and organ music will be presented during the Sunday tours.
Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, and $2 for children. Parking is available at Frankford Bicycle Inc.