By Linda Dillman
There are many families in central Ohio who can trace the history of their homestead back more than 200 years, but one such home near the banks of Big Walnut Creek can claim the honor.
Built in 1841 by Amer Rees on a road named for him, the stately three-story brick Reese Road home is now owned by Chris Hann and his wife.
The mansion originally consisted of a two-story front façade with an attached rear portion—all adorned with handmade fretwork, but around 1860 a side wing and tower were added as part of a remodeling project.
According to “Columbus Vignettes,” published in 1966 by Bill Arter, Rees bought 1,000 acres, which included an original homesite (built in 1813 according to the Franklin County Auditor website) in 1840. Rees’ son, Washington, who was born in 1837, later took over farm operations from his father. He built a sawmill and distillery, making use of the nearby creek and farmland throughout the area.
According to Arter: Rees employed 100 men, most of whom lived on the farm nearby. When the Scioto Valley Traction Line passed through this area, the settlement got the name of Rees Station. Whisky taxes put Rees out of the distilling business. The farm shrank. Washington Rees died about 1913.
The Reese Road mansion, which consists of eight rooms, and 159 acres was sold to Raymond Hann in 1923 by Washington Rees’ daughter-in-law, Julia. Horsepower at the time was in the form of four legs and harnesses dating back to that time still hang in a structure attached to the main house.
Gretchen Hann—Raymond’s great-granddaughter—and David Lindsey now live in the 3,958 square-foot home. She, along with her father, Chris, who lives less than two miles away, continue the farming tradition in addition to operating a seasonal Lockbourne Road family farm market.
“My grandfather bought the house and property in 1923,” said Chris. “He and my grandmother just got married and wanted a farm. He bought it at night because everyone at that time was on a party line and he didn’t want anyone to know his business and how much he paid for it.”
A hand drawn picture of Raymond hangs on the wall where an ornate wooden staircase leads to the second floor with rooms outfitted with their original fireplaces.
Chris’s great-grandfather started farming land along Lockbourne Road across from Hamilton Township High School in 1895. Another relative, Frederick Hann, owned and farmed land on Hendron Road in Groveport over 100 years ago.
While diving through the family’s archives, Chris found a whisky distillery ledger documenting the purchase of local grain by Rees over 180 years ago to supply the distillery. Familiar family names from throughout Hamilton Township fill the pages of a handwritten 1840-1846 ledger with sales and purchases involving—among others—Swisher, Rathmell, Stimmel and Rohr family members.
Charles Obetz was a frequent customer when the distillery was in operation. In a May 25, 1841 entry, Obetz bought 36 gallons of whisky at 20 cents a gallon but received a credit for returning a barrel. During the same month, Rees purchased 669 bushels of corn from Christopher Shafer for $106.08.
With no bridge at the time, crossings were made at a low point in the river south of the main house.
In addition to farming, Hann said his family also leased parcels of land on the west side of the river in the 1930s and 1940s to wealthier families from Columbus who built small cottages to escape the summer heat.
In May 1952, 200 members, families, and friends of the Franklin County Historical Society toured the Hann home after a car caravan escorted by law enforcement drove seven miles from Columbus to the site.
Even though the heritage of the house fell into the hands of three different families, two share a common bond of community service.
Washington Rees served as a Hamilton Township trustee and Chris Hann has served in the same capacity since 1992—continuing a centuries-long stewardship of the land and the lives of the people living upon it.