153-155 College Street | Western Reserve College, President's House​

153-155 College Street | Western Reserve College, President's House​


This Federal-style home is the oldest building on Western Reserve Academy's campus, originally built to house both the president and professor of theology of Western Reserve College (note the double entrances).​


Charles Backus Storrs (1794-1833) was the first president of Western Reserve College and presided over the school during the abolition/colonization controversy. Prior to his presidency, Storrs was active in the anti-slavery movement and was an early member of the Portage County Colonization Society and later served as secretary and president. ​


Like his fellow professors Beriah Green and Elizur Wright, Storrs' views on slavery changed after reading William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator. He became the first president of a college to declare himself in favor of abolition. His abolitionist viewpoint often put him in opposition to many of the colonization-supporting trustees.​


On May 8, 1833, Storrs spoke for nearly three hours on abolition at a meeting in Tallmadge. The next day, he suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage, which required a leave of absence from the College. He died five months later. His obituary stated that, "it may almost be said that he was a martyr to the abolition cause," inspiring poet John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) to write the poem, To the Memory of Charles B. Storrs.

Audio


"In the evil days before us,    

And the trials yet to come,    

In the shadow of the prison,            

Or the cruel martyrdom,—    

We will think of thee, O brother!    

And thy sainted name shall be    

In the blessing of the captive,    

And the anthem of the free."


John Greenleaf Whittier, To the Memory of Charles B. Storrs (last stanza)