Alanson Swan House
Historic Structures Report
Architectural Data Section
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Historical data relating to the origins and development of Everett Village has not been documented in any systematic fashion. However the settlement and evolution of the community follows the main patterns in the development of the region. The Alanson Swan House (H.S. 470) spans virtually the entire period of Euro-American occupation of the Cuyahoga Valley, and in its physical evolution recapitulates the major economic cycles and socio-cultural influences that shaped the history of the area.

In 1881, William Henry Perrin noted in his History of Summit County that, "The building now occupied by Alanson Swanson at 'Johnnycake' or Everett, was built by Henry Iddings before 1820, and was the first in the village."[1] This would date the earliest probable construction to the post-1795 expansion into the Western Reserve sponsored by the Connecticut Land Company. This initial settlement period was characterized by an isolated, agrarian subsistance economy, remote from eastern centers of population and commerce. The opening of the Ohio and Erie Canal through the Cuyahoga River Valley in 1827, contributed to a rapid expansion in population and a shift to a market economy based on the availability of cheap, efficient transportation.[2] Shortly after the opening of the canal, Alanson Swan bought Henry Iddings property, and in subsequent land purchases acquired a total of 500 acres, including most of what is now Everett Village.

One of the effects of the canal was to develop a service industry catering to the needs of canal operators and users. Alanson Swan was involved in a number of business ventures based on this need. In 1835, he and a Mr. Smith erected a store, the second building at Everett, which carried goods "selected with a view to demand on the canal at that point."[3] The following year Smith sold his interest to Swan, who then sold and repurchased the store several times in the following years. Starting with an inventory worth approximately $500.00, the business grew to handle about $2,000.00 worth of goods. In 1842, Swan expanded his operation to include a barn and warehouse for storage of hay and grain to maintain a livery stable of 300 horses and mules used to draw canal boats and packets. The packet company subsequently failed and Swan lost the bulk of his investment in the livery business. It is likely that the failure of the packet company was linked to a general decline in canal business brought about by competition from the railroads, which by the 1850s, began to monopolize transport of passengers and goods.[4]

Despite his business reversals Swan remained in Everett Village, where as a licensed minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, he was identified with "the religious and moral improvement and growth" of the community. Education appears to have been among his civic interests as he is recorded as having deeded an acre of land to the local school district in 1838, where a small frame school house was later built. In the early 1870s, he sold all of his property to Alexander Stewart, with the exception of the house in which he continued to live "to an advanced old age". An 1891 survey map of Boston Township also shows the property in his name.

The date of Alanson Swan's death and the immediate disposition of his property is unknown. The National Park Service acquired the property in 1978 from Mrs. Marjorie D. Morgan. She had acquired the house and land in 1976 from Mr. Dewey Osborne. Mrs. Morgan's grandfather Mr. Baxter had resided in the house for a number of years until his death in the early 1970s. Following his death the structure has been vacant except for brief use as a ceramics workshop around 1974-5.[5] Under the terms of the property acquisition agreement, the Morgan family will retain use of the land surrounding the house until 1988. Since its purchase by the National Park Service, no treatment of the structure has been undertaken other than boarding up window and door opening with plywood. The structure was reported to be in poor condition at the time of its transfer to the federal government. The reviewing appraiser noted that the structure was "suitable for storage purposes only".[6]


[1] Perrin, William Henry. History of Summit County. Baskin and Battey Historical Publishers, Chicago. 1881. p.539.

[2] Hunt, William J. An Assessment of Archeological Resources Associated With Several Structures in Historic Everett Village, Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, Ohio, (Draft report). Ms. on file at the National Park Service, Midwest Archeological Center, Lincoln, Nebraska. 1986. pp. 21-30.

[3] op. cit., p. 540.

[4] op. cit., pp. 21-30.

[5] Phone conversation with Mr. J.D. Morgan, 4-19-86.

[6] Certificate of Reviewing Appraiser, Tract No. 114-53, November 2, 1977.

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Last Updated: 28-Jul-2010