History comes to life at Prospect Place

TRINWAY — The Civil War was a pivotal part of American history, and Kevin McNamara is proud to teach those lessons to others.

McNamara has been a member of the 41st Ohio Volunteer Infantry since 2010 and is currently the captain of the group, which participates in Civil War reenactments throughout Ohio.

The unit was camped outside Historic Prospect Place in Trinway on Saturday, as the GW Adams Education Center held its first Civil War living history event.

“One of our goals is to bring history to life and bring attention to this era,” McNamara said. “We love connecting with local museums and historic sites and promoting what they do. The Civil War has been a big part of our country’s history, and we want to engage with the public and show them what was like life during the war.”

Prospect Place has a connection to this era. GW Adams, who built the mansion, came to Ohio after his father and abolitionist, George Beal, moved the family from Virginia. GW followed in his father’s footsteps as an abolitionist and shared the 150-acre estate with his brother, Edward, after their father passed away in 1826.

GW, who was a businessman and served in the Ohio Assembly, built the original mansion in 1855, but it burned down due to arson before it was completed. The second mansion was built on the same site and completed a few years later when GW used his house as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Connecting their namesake at the time was why the GW Adams Education Center decided to host the event, said executive director Jeff Cole. It had been under discussion since the current council took over seven years ago.

“It’s the first time we’ve hosted this, and we’re really excited about it. We wanted to kick the tires and try because there’s a lot of history and space here,” Cole said. “We wanted to provide a modern perspective in a historical context. Educational outreach is one of our missions, and we hope it will create an educational opportunity.”

The event featured infantry camping out in the front yard, while a cannon from that era was repeatedly shot down. Visitors could walk around the camp and house, while Low Tea, a fashion show, a watermelon eating contest and a sack race were among the festivities.

Several visitors had passed by Prospect Place, but this event gave them the opportunity to visit and see the place.

Two soldiers fire the cannon during Saturday's Civil War Living History, hosted by Historic Prospect Place Estate and the GW Adams Educational Center.

Helen DeCaro, who lives in South Zanesville, heard about the event through Facebook and decided to attend.

“We had never been here and wanted to see what was going on,” she said. “It seemed interesting to be able to see things from the Civil War era, and it gives you a sense of what life was like back then.”

A family connection drew Jared Besser of Zanesville to the site. His father had done cement work on the property, and he thought it was a good opportunity to learn about history.

“Prospect Place has a lot of history, and this is the first time I’ve been able to visit and look around,” he said. “It’s interesting to see everything and understand everything.”

The center offers school tours and lectures, and Prospect Place will host an old-fashioned baseball game in September. Events like these help the group in its mission, noted Treasurer Amy Green.

“We want to provide an educational experience,” Green said. “We are all volunteers who want to keep history alive. We believe it is important to remember what GW and his family have done, while using these events to raise funds so that we can restore and maintain the property.”

Despite rainy weather, Cole felt the turnout was good for the first time. It’s unclear if this will be an annual gathering, but the council aims to hold events like this in the future.

“It’s about creating an educational opportunity. If all goes well, we want to capitalize on it,” Cole said. “There’s a lot of history here and room for an event like this. We wanted to see how it played out and then make a decision from there.

“Historic places like this are disappearing,” he added. “We want to keep history alive and make sure it’s passed on to the next generation.”

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Twitter: @brandonhannahs

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