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Spread Eagle Tavern

Spread Eagle Tavern, 9797 Cincinnati-Columbus Road (U. S. 42), West Chester Township. Also known as the "house of seven chimneys" and in the 1943-46 period, the Colonial Farm Restaurant or Colonial Inn. The one-story brick house, privately owned, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 because of its association with the Underground Railroad and its architectural style, Jeffersonian Classicism, according to Mary Ann Olding, a professor at the Union Institute and University and a historic preservationist. "The house has numerous ties to the Underground Railroad through James D. Conrey, a Methodist minister, who owned the house in the 1840s," Olding told the Cincinnati Enquirer in May 2003. The former stagecoach stop on the Lebanon Pike is said to be mentioned in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 book, Uncle Tom's Cabin. The property was owned by Jonathan Conrey and his second wife, Mary Ford Parish Conrey, from 1815 to 1827. In 1827, it was sold to his son, James D. Conrey and first wife, Anna Layman Conrey, and they owned it until after the Civil War, according to the Ohio Underground Railroad Assn. web site. Conrey, an abolitionist, was an associate of people known to have been involved in the Underground Railroad in Southwestern Ohio. "The Seven Chimneys is probably the oldest house still standing" in the township, wrote Virginia Shewalter in her 1976 book, History of Union Township, Butler County, Ohio. "The house has an unusual structure of 14 rooms built in a U-shape," she said. "A fireplace is in every room. In a basement room, which was probably the kitchen, there are two fireplaces. The walls are three bricks thick." Shewalter added: "There is a belief that before and during the Civil War, the tavern had been a stopover for slaves who fled north via the Underground Railroad."

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