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Silas Bingham House at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Sep. 21, 2023.

House of History

Published October 5, 2023

House of History

The Silas Bingham House preserves Athens history

By Ethan Herx | For The Post

Just as every town does, Athens has changed and evolved over time. Preserving history for nearly 220 years, the Silas Bingham House has been the home of a Revolutionary War veteran, a former Ohio University president and now the Office of Sustainability. Many may not even know the name or history of said building, yet almost all who have been on the OU Athens campus have seen it.

Located at 97 Richland Ave., just south of The Convo on the corner of Richland and South Shafer St., the Silas Bingham House is the oldest remaining building in Athens County and one of few standing two-story log structures left in all of Southeast Ohio.

In 1797, a soldier who served under and crossed the Delaware with George Washington during the Revolutionary War by the name of Silas Bingham settled in what would soon become Athens.

Eventually, Bingham would go on to become the first sheriff of Athens County. He remained in Athens, living in his home at its original location, until his death in October 1840 at the age of 82.

Early voting and land records indicate his house had been built by 1803, predating both the university and the establishment of Athens County. The house also served as the first courthouse of the county, as commissioner meetings would take place there as early as 1806.

Over the years, the building has been home to other notable people in university history, including the third OU President Robert G. Wilson, for whom Wilson Hall on West Green is named. John Newton Templeton, the first Black graduate of the university, for whom Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium is partially named, also resided there.

The home was originally on South College Street, then moved to East State Street in 1853. In 1987, the house was purchased by the university, which then dismantled and moved it to its current location.

Also in 1987, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places, with a plaque originally on the outside now located on an inside wall.

When the Bingham House was moved to Richland, it acted as a university visitor center. It is now the home of the university’s Office of Sustainability.

“The Office of Sustainability has been up here about 10 years,” said Sam Crowl, the director of sustainability. “We were in another building with facilities management, and the director of sustainability at the time when I joined the office was looking for a different space on campus.”

After spending much of his time in the house, Crowl has developed an appreciation for it that he hopes to spread.

“I tell students to put it on your bucket list,” said Crowl. “Come over to the Bingham House. And the fact that it's not really a visitor center anymore, I wish that we had more to get the word out there.”

While there are no plans to bring back a visitor center on the ground floor, the house is still open to the public.

“We love having more students learn about sustainability and learn about the building,” Crowl said.

The inside prominently displays 19th-century furniture from around the region as well as photos and items from the Bingham family, giving visitors the chance to see how life may have been at the time.

Next to a cabinet on the wall opposite the door, there is a logbook that describes the life of Bingham and his family during their time in Athens.

This year, the Silas Bingham House celebrates 220 years of legacy and history in Athens.