Upton Association marks 30 years

WARREN — The Harriet Taylor Upton Association has spent the past 30 years doing whatever it can to promote a local woman who provided a varity of community service programs for Warren.

A gala was held recently on the grounds of the Upton House to praise the work of the association and Harriet Taylor Upton.

Association President Janet Schweitzer said Upton “had such a story to share. She was active with the Suffragate Movement and did a lot of work behind the scenes to help women get the right to vote. Many people do not know how much work she did.”

Former association president Ken Conklin, who served as president eight years, said the Upton House was almost demolished in 1988, but community members raised $160,000 to save it from demolition.

“Plans were to demolish the house and replace it with an office building. A group of concerned citizens stepped up and purchased the home and began the major task of restoring it,” Conklin said.

The association was formed in 1989 with Shari Harrell as the first president.

Upton was born in Ravenna in 1854, and her family moved to Warren in 1862.

She was active in many groups, including the president of Women’s Suffragate Association, a founding member of the National League of Women Voters, instrumental in passage of the first child labor laws, founder of local Daughters of America, founder of the Warren chapter of the American Red Cross and first woman elected to the Warren Board of Education.

In 1931, Upton lost her home on Mahoning Avenue, and the house was sold at sheriff’s sale. Many of her belongings were auctioned.

Upton later moved to California to live with relatives and died in 1945 at age 90 in Pasadena, Calif.

Conklin said work was done by the association over the 30 years to bring the house back to its original condition. It at one time was used for apartments.

In 1993, the home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The home acquired many pieces of furniture, including the desk from Helen Hart Denning, a longtime friend of Upton.

“We have come a long way in 30 years,” he said.

Conklin said many famous people have been entertained at the Upton House, including presidents William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, James Garfield, Rutherford Hayes and William Henry Harrison, as well as Susan B. Anthony and former First Lady Barbara Bush, who wrote of the visit in one of her books.

“If you have been entertained in that room, you can add your name to this distinguished list,” Conklin said.

The association worked to get Upton’s ashes brought back to Warren from California.

“The Upton board felt it was not right Harriet was buried in California when she never wanted to leave her beloved home on Mahoning Avenue,” Conklin said.

In October 2011, a memorial service was held and marker placed for Upton on the grounds.

Schweitzer said for a volunteer group, the association has done a lot to continue Upton’s legacy.

The association has taken care of the women’s park across the street since 2003 and holds tours of the home for local school children.

“The Upton House has been an asset to the community,” Conklin said.