One of the longest-running organizations in Stow, the Stow Historical Society was founded by a group of people interested in preserving the history and artifacts of Stow Township. Seven community members, including local historian Frank Green, gathered at the Town Hall November 15th, 1949 to discuss forming a historical society. The first meeting of Stow Historical Society was held January 30th, 1950 with 30 charter members. The objective of the society was “to gather and record all historical data pertaining to the development of Stow Township.” Meetings were to be held once a month at Stow Town Hall.
Society members wasted no time in getting started with programming and events. Their first big event was an antiques show held the first weekend in June 1950 to help raise funds for the new organization. Residents of Darrowville and Hudson were invited to join Stow residents in displaying their antiques at Stow Town Hall. By 1951, membership was at 60 and the organization was looking for a permanent place to display the many artifacts and historic documents they had collected. Among some of the items donated to the society during their first year were the original surveyor’s chain used by Joseph Darrow to survey the township in 1804, a bear trap, and the deed to the property of the first settler in Stow Township – William Walker. It was not until 1965 that exhibit space became available for the historical items held by the Society. At that time The Falls Savings and Loan Association in Stow-Kent Plaza provided two rooms in which to display the artifacts. By 1968 the city of Stow permitted the society to have a small museum in the Wagon Shed at Adell Durbin Park to exhibit the items. Mrs. Arthur (Sarah Hibbard) Amlung was one of those instrumental in preparing and setting up the museum exhibit. She was also responsible for starting the Society’s annual tours for school children. School tours continue to this day, giving every third grader in Stow a chance to learn about the history of Stow and see up close the belongings of Stow’s early settlers.
In 1970 the opportunity to create a larger, permanent space for a museum became available through the offer of an historic building. Developer Stan Boltz donated the White House Tavern/White Haven, a former stage coach stop located at the corner of Fishcreek and Graham Roads, to the city of Stow to make way for the Graham Road Plaza. Boltz assumed the moving costs and the Historical Society held fund raising projects to help with restoration costs. The building was moved to the new 79 acre addition to Silver Springs Park in July 1972. The goal was to have the building completely renovated by the bicentennial, July 4, 1976. Like any restoration project, money and labor were needed. The Society received assistance from the city of Stow in the form of a loan, funds from city councilmen who donated their salary increases, and a federal grant. City councilman, and later Stow Historical Society president, Charles Barker donated the electrical wiring for the building. Through the hard work of many, including the Historical Society members, Stow Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Stow, the Stow Men’s Garden Club, and community members, the new “Heritage House” museum was dedicated July 5, 1976.
“Heritage and Harvest” was the theme of the Stow Historical Society’s first annual harvest festival held the second weekend of November, 1978. Artisans demonstrated old time crafts and fresh apple cider and apple butter (cooked in a kettle over an open fire) were available. The Heritage House museum was also open for tours. The historical society has continued its annual Harvest Festival tradition and recently celebrated its 34th festival.
In 1980 the Historical Society collaborated with the Stow Players in building a barn near the Heritage Museum for both organizations to share. The first event held in the barn was the 1981 Harvest Festival, which also included an evening square dance. By the next year the building had also become the year-round theater for Stow Players.
In 1985 another building – the Minnie Darrow House – was added to Heritage Reserve Park. The house was donated to the Historical Society by Bank One after it had purchased the property on Norton Road in Darrowville. The house was built around 1850 by Lyman Darrow, son of Joseph, surveyor of Stow Township. The most recent owner of the home had been Floyd Darrow, known as the Popcorn King. He and his family grew popcorn on the property for 45 years. The third house to be placed at Heritage Reserve Park is known as the Mary Starr house. Originally located at the corner of Norton Road and Route 91, the house was built in 1849 by a woman named Mary Starr. Moved in the spring of 1992, the house was dedicated in 1997, after 2,446 volunteer hours of restoration work. The Historical Society now has a total of four historic buildings, with the placement of the Stewart’s Corner one-room schoolhouse at the Park in 2012. Dedication of the renovated schoolhouse was held in July 2017.
The Stow Historical Society continues to preserve the history of Stow through its historic home tours and collection of significant local artifacts. Members enjoy educational programs at seven member meetings a year. An annual picnic is held in August and an installation of officers luncheon in December. The annual Harvest Festival, held the last weekend in September/first weekend in October, is the society’s main fundraiser.