Half a mile north of the square in Mt. Vernon, in an otherwise normal-looking neighborhood with normal-looking homes sits a house that looks nothing like those surrounding it. Not only is it unique in its look compared to its neighbors, but the rumors around town are also that it may have played an important role in one of the biggest chapters in American human rights history.

The Robin Hill home was built in 1836 by a man named William Lowry who originally called the "Lowry House," for what I assume are obvious reasons. For reasons that aren't obvious, he changed the name to Robin Hill sometime later. The name remained until 1857 when one of the owners of the Sullivan Grain Company purchased it and renamed it Popcorn Hill for unknown reasons. In 1915, a man by the name of George F. Zimmerman changed the name back to Robin Hill because the yard was full of robins during the springtime, according to the current owner, Brian Alldredge. Now that makes sense.

I first learned about the house when a friend shared the Zillow listing on Facebook recently. Another friend commented on the post asking if this was the house rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad, which piqued my interest. I called the phone number on the listing and spoke with Brian. After introducing myself and telling him I was interested in sharing the home with you, I asked him if there was any truth to the rumor. Brian said he grew up in Mt. Vernon and had heard the same rumors, but to his knowledge, there was no documentation to confirm if it played a role in helping slaves escape the South. That's not uncommon for many of the rumored Railroad stops in the area. It's hard to keep something a secret if you write down where people can find it.

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He sent me an e-mail shortly after we spoke that included this little tidbit of info that shows the rumors aren't something new:

In 1938, a book by Frances Cavanah was published titled, 'The Treasures of Belden Place.'  She remembered an old house where her best friend had lived, and she had often played there as a little girl.  She said, "This house on the Ohio River had once been a station for the Underground Railroad," so she and her friend searched for a secret room where the slaves could hide.  Of course, their search was futile, but they enjoyed imagining what might have happened.  It was in her adult years that Frances read a great deal about the Underground Railroad and wrote several stories about it.  They were combined to form her first book, "The Treasure of Belden Place," which was inspired by Robin Hill and was considered its setting.

Brian also said the house was left unattended for several years until a previous owner decided to pour $700,000 into renovating it between 2001 - 2008. Those renovations included "a new foundation and main support walls, all new floor joist and floors, new roof, new windows, and new drywall."

Let's take a look inside, shall we?

See Inside the Mt. Vernon Home Rumored to be Part of the Underground Railroad

Located at 917 Mill Street in Mt. Vernon, less than a mile north of the Ohio River, there are a few different rumors of how the Robin Hill home was involved in helping slaves escape to the North. One rumor suggested there was a tunnel underneath the home slaves would use to pass through after getting off a boat on the river. That rumor has been debunked, but there once was a creek that ran near the home which was so overgrown with plants it looked like a tunnel. It is believed slaves used the creek as a pathway as they headed north. The home's current owner, Brian Alldredge, says he heard someone who lived or worked at the home during that time period would hang a colored blanket over the balcony to let those assisting the slaves know whether or not it was safe to pass with one particular color providing a green light, so to speak, and another warning there were people in the area looking for runaway slaves (some people in the North were known to capture slaves and send them back to the South).

The home went through a $700,000 remodel from 2001-2008 which included a new foundation and main support walls, all new floor joist and floors, new roof, new windows, and new drywall. It's currently for sale on Zillow with an asking price of $412,500

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