Thursday, July 19, 2012

River Ridge Farm in Franklin

This past winter, we discovered a great deal of family history that had, for whatever reason, been kept secret. Among the details was the fact that Bob's grandfather grew up on River Ridge Farm in Franklin, which is about an hour from Conneaut Lake. Bob's grandfather's father (Bob's great-grandfather) was a night watchman at the farm. This farm, you see, wasn't just any farm. It was the 'experimental farm' and castle-like home to the wealthy Joseph Sibley. Joseph Sibley made his fortune in the booming oil business, went on to become a congressman, and even conducted a failed run at the Presidency.
River Ridge is now privately owned by a religious group. We contacted them and they kindly spent an afternoon showing us around the impressive main house. The main house, of course, wasn't where Bob's grandfather grew up. He lived with his family in a small stone house on the property.

This, picture doesn't do the house justice. My lens wasn't nearly wide enough to capture the entire house. This website has fabulous pictures and a complete history of River Ridge.
The entire house was built in just nine months by hundreds of Italian stone masons. It is remarkably solid even today.

Joseph Sibley was an incredibly generous man, and the farm, by all accounts, was a wonderful place to group up. Many families lived and worked on the farm. Each Christmas, Sibley gave each child living on the farm a gift. During the Great Depression, he offered workers' families steep discounts on food and allowed them to grow their own plots of vegetables, thus softening the blow of the Depression to these families.
I'll save the interior shots for another post. 


Lindy said...

Oh wow! That is a beautiful building! Had a quick look through your blog and I can see why you would love the area!

Anonymous said...

I am reading materials in a box which contains letters and articles from my great grandfather. There was a long letter to my grandfather from J. Sibley. I looked up the River Ridge Farm and enjoyed your photos.

Thank you for posting them.

November, 2013