Tour Our Buildings

Please note that the Oberlin Heritage Center will be closed to the public from Sunday, December 17, 2023 - Monday, January 15, 2024. We will resume normal open hours and tour offerings on Tuesday, January 16, 2024. 



Greet Straus the stag. Ring the school bell.
Learn about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

***COVID-19 Pandemic Procedures***

Update: 1/3/2023

Masks are not required for visitors as of 1/1/2023. Visitors who have COVID-19 concerns are invited to contact us about private tour options as well as request that the docent wear a mask during tours

If you have any questions or concerns about our history walk operations, or would like to make a reservation, please call 440-774-1700 or email the Museum Education and Tour Manager. 

 On this page: 

Guided Oberlin Origins + Little Red Schoolhouse Tours

Guided 45-minute tour of the first floor of the 1866 Monroe House and the 1836 Little Red Schoolhouse. Hear about the events and individuals that shaped Oberlin’s first one hundred years. Topics include Oberlin's beginnings as a Christian Perfectionist community and its philosophies on education, abolition, integration, and more. 

Tour Times

Tour Fee

Self-Guided Oberlin Origins Tours

Are you unable to attend a guided tour? Then drop by during our open hours for a self-guided experience of the popular Oberlin Origins tour. Visitors are provided with a tablet that will take them through the first floor of the 1866 Monroe House. Hear about the events and individuals that shaped Oberlin’s first one hundred years, including stories of those who lived in the Monroe House. Topics include Oberlin's beginnings as a Christian Perfectionist community, coeducation, and abolition. 

Tour Times

Tour Fee

Upstairs/Downstairs Guided Tour: Small Town, Big Stories

*Please note at this time, OHC is not offering this tour except for group tours arranged in advance. Please see Group Tours for more information.*

Enjoy the lifestyles and architecture of historic Oberlin in a guided tour of three beautifully preserved buildings that tell the unique, nationally significant story of the community and college in Oberlin from their beginning in 1833 until the 1930s. Learn about Oberlin's founding as a Christian Perfectionist colony, women attending college, African American education, abolition and the Underground Railroad, aluminum history, decorative arts, the Progressive Era, student life, and more.

Tour Details

  • Tours begin at the Monroe House of the Oberlin Heritage Center. Directions & Map

  • Tours typically last 75 minutes.

  • All ages are welcome but the tour is of most interest to adults and children above the age of 7 years.  See our Event Calendar and Bring a Youth Group page for more children-friendly options, such as the I Spy Oberlin scavenger hunt or Lessons in the Past program.

  • Due to the historic nature of our buildings, the tour involves walking and climbing stairs. Portions of the buildings are accessible by wheelchair. Contact our office for advance arrangements. Guests with hearing difficulties can ask the docent to wear an audio amplifier. For more information, visit our Accessibility and ADA page.

  • Groups of 8 or larger should contact the Museum Education and Tour Manager prior to registering for tours. Group Tours

Tour Fee

  • $6 per adult

  • Free for members, college students with a valid ID, and children under 18 accompanied by an adult. Also free for active duty military personnel and their families as part of the Blue Star Museums program.

Reserve a Tour Online

Specialized Tours

Historically Inaccurate Tour

Are you a myth buster? Can you call someone’s bluff? Come test your skills on this fun, thought-provoking 75-minute tour of the Oberlin Heritage Center's three historic buildings. This tour will include some Oberlin and national historical myths along the way, and at the end, we’ll explore what is fact or fiction. This tour is available year-round at special times.

Music in the Home Tour

Listen and learn how music was used for entertainment, fellowship, and teaching in nineteenth and early twentieth-century homes during this 60-minute guided tour of the historic properties at the Oberlin Heritage Center. Musicians and non-musicians alike will enjoy his opportunity to view musical artifacts up-close and hear sounds of the times. This tour is available year-round at special times.

Our Historic Buildings

The Monroe House (1866)

This brick Italianate-style house is the starting point for your tour. It was originally the home of Civil War General Giles W. Shurtleff, the leader of the first African-American regiment from Ohio to serve in the Civil War. The house was subsequently the long-time home of James Monroe and his wife, Julia Finney Monroe. Mr. Monroe was an important abolitionist, advocate of voting rights for African Americans, and friend of Frederick Douglass. Monroe taught at Oberlin College, served as the U.S. Consul to Brazil, and was a five-term U.S. congressman. Mrs. Monroe was the daughter of Charles Finney, the great religious leader of Oberlin College.


The Little Red Schoolhouse (1836/1837)
This was the first public school in town and is Oberlin’s oldest building. In defiance of Ohio's "Black Laws", the school was interracial from its inception. Sarah Margru Kinson, who as a young girl was on board the infamous Amistad slave-trading ship, returned later to America and was among the first African Americans to attend school in Oberlin.  Restored as a pioneer-era one-room school, it is a special favorite of school-age visitors.


The Jewett House (1884)
This was the home of Oberlin College chemistry professor Frank Fanning Jewett, and his wife Frances Gulick Jewett, author of books on public health and hygiene. The Jewetts and subsequent owners, the Hubbards, rented rooms to male Oberlin College students who slept in the attic and studied on the second floor. This wonderfully intact house and its simple wood frame barn are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On display in the house is an exhibit on "Aluminum: The Oberlin Connection" that includes a recreation of Charles Martin Hall's 1886 woodshed experiment.


For more tour options, check out the Event Calendar, History Walks, Bring a Group, and Bring a Youth Group pages, or contact the Museum Education and Tour Manager  to discuss customized tours.

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