My Town Destination: Somerset, OH-Perry County
Trip Type: Day Trip
Date of Visit: 10/2/18
Town Ambassador/Contact: John Ulmer Phone: 740-342-3547 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a town of only 1,500, Somerset has a lot to offer. Not only does it have great dining, it also has fantastic walk-ability to all necessities, and great charm due to its preserved history. Founded in 1810 by settlers from Somerset, PA the town was constructed halfway between Lancaster and Zanesville OH. Giving it a great location for the county seat of Perry County (formerly), and the 1829 Courthouse.
The Center of Town:
The Somerset Courthouse built in 1829 is still the center of the town and a working government building for the village. It is a Federal style building that still has an all original bench, and continues to hold Mayor’s Court. Original Courthouses in Ohio rare. The only other one currently resides in Chester, in Meigs County. The Courthouse serves as the focal point of the town, and its stone courtyard is used for the Somerset Farmers Market. There is a special parade each year in honor of Phillip Henry Sheridan. Sheridan was a Union General in the American Civil War, and Somerset native whose statue is in front of the courthouse in the town square.
Right across from the courthouse in front of the library you will find a statue of Nellie Sheridan Wilson (niece of Phillip Sheridan, and a fascinating historical figure). Nellie was the first female postmaster in Somerset, and one of the youngest appointed of her time.
Because Somerset never had a major coal boom like neighboring New Lexington, it also never had a major influx of building or a bust that could cause the abandonment issues caused in many small towns. Many of the buildings being revitalized still have much of the original architecture, and have simply been neglected, but not abandoned. This gives Somerset a unique edge on its revitalization efforts.
Interest in History Sparks Growth:
In Pigfoot Square, (an area near market street where agricultural markets and the first county fairs occurred) sits Jacob Miller’s Tavern. Jacob Miller purchased the property now in Somerset’s historic district in 1805. He and set about opening a tavern shortly after. The tavern is built on the historic Zane’s Trace (Ohio’s first major thoroughfare). The structure is one of the oldest two story log structures in Ohio, and after Miller’s death, was also the the boyhood home of Civil War General Phillip Sheridan. It’s area, Pigfoot Square, is marked on four corners with postage stamp lawns. Recently, local business owners were granted permission to turn Jacob Miller’s Tavern into a distillery. Dubbed “The Project at Pigfoot Square,” the project also includes other historical sites to help with catering, tourism, and revitalization. Read the full story of Jacob Miller’s Tavern here.
Other business owners are also renovating and using the charm of the historical town. Businesses like Strong and Co., and Sophie’s Tea Room and Cafe are bringing great dining and shopping to the area. Owner occupancy of businesses are high in Somerset, and the backbone of the town. This atmosphere creates strong service based businesses such as Clay Haus, Wannabees Bar and Grille, and The Hole in the Wall which have become staples of the community.
The Village of Somerset itself are taking an interest in the downtown renovations. Currently, they are building a new library, leaving its current space available for possible consortium projects proposed for collaborative community use. A woodworking shared space is also currently in discussion to move into the downtown area.
Churches Strong Influence Yesterday and Today
Located just outside Somerset is Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church. Saint Joseph’s Church is a the oldest Catholic church in Ohio, and is located on State Route 383. A beautiful stop to see this historical gem, and it has historical relevance to Perry County. It has several beautiful features such as its stained glass windows made in Munich, and that used to hang in St. Vincent Ferrer, NY.
There are also unique remnant’s of the First Lutheran Synod Church located right in town. A Cemetery that dates back to the early 1800’s keeps cemetery enthusiasts, and the plain curious, vising the historic place year-round. These are just a few of the highlights of several churches in Somerset.
Recreation- Lakes, Fishing, Kayaking:
There are several great places to get on the water in or near Somerset. Go kayaking on Rush Creek Lake, or travel a little further and head down Little Rushcreek. There is a good chance you will see otters and bald eagles along the way. Go hiking at Finck’s Nature Preserve, located at 215 E. Main St., Somerset. It is owned by the Village of Somerset, and maintained by the Perry County, OH OCVNs (Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalists). Go paddling at Clouse Lake Park. Or go do some great Bass Fishing at the St. Joseph’s Lake and Somerset Resevoir. Part of Rushcreek Watershed, St. Joseph’s Lake was purchased to be developed into a park by the Rushcreek Conservancy District.
All you need in a Small Town Setting:
Long gone are the days since Belden Brick Company was the largest employer in Somerset, but now you can have all the charm of yesteryear with today’s amenities. With downtown Somerset being within walking distance of many neighborhoods you have access to several local businesses offering necessities. Businesses like the local grocer Carpenter’s Market on Columbus Street, Northside Somerset Pharmacy right on Main Street, and Rosey Reds a local florist and gifts, all within walking distance. Educational institutions like Hocking College are also taking advantage of the downtown scene, and the public and catholic schools offer employment and events contributing to the community. Somerset also boasts a new medical facility (Genesis Medical Center) moving into the area. All offering jobs and quality of living in Somerset Ohio.
MTT Antique and Market Finds
Great Antique Shops and Farmers Markets are familiar sights in small towns. This can also include Thrift Shops, Local Eats, and the like! Here are some great MTT Antique Finds from Somerset:
My Town Today has started a referral section of each article. It’s based on the fun of visiting a town, and seeing what town the majority of its citizens would recommend for My Town Today to visit next.
The referral for this entry is: Chester, OH. Stay tuned for My Town Today to pop up there soon.