Located overlooking the Ohio & Erie Canal at 47 West Exchange Street, the Richard Howe House is a canal-era landmark in downtown Akron. Known as the "Howe Mansion" by travelers on the Ohio & Erie Canal, this 1836 high-style Federal structure was the home of Canalway engineer Richard Howe.
On June 30, 2008, hundreds of people came out to witness history being made: The 1836 Richard Howe House was moved down Exchange Street from its original site next to the Akron Beacon Journal offices, to its new site next to the Ohio & Erie Canal and Towpath Trail. Thanks to the City of Akron and many generous supporters, the Howe House has been restored. It now serves as a visitor information center for the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, a meeting center, and as offices for the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition.
As the resident engineer of the Ohio & Erie Canal from 1825 to 1832, Howe supervised the completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal from Cleveland to Massillon. Howe's responsibilities included engineering and designing the canal prism and locks between Massillon and Cleveland, including the fifteen-step lift locks built in the Cascade Locks Park. Howe also designed the configuration of Summit Lake and engineered the portage of the Ohio & Erie Canal over the Continental Divide. Howe served as resident engineer until 1850 and facilitated the construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal to the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal. This connection transformed Akron into a manufacturing and transportation center.
Richard Howe was also active in a variety of civic activities including the construction of the Summit County Courthouse and Jail, Akron Rural Cemetery, and the Akron Lyceum and Library Association. He also led a group of Akron residents to California to search for gold in 1850. Richard Howe's influence on the transportation history of Akron and northeast Ohio was significant and has had a lasting impact on the social and economic development of the region.
Today, the Richard Howe House is one of only two Federal-style homes in the City of Akron and serves as a historic reminder of Akron's early canal-era. Both the exterior and the interior of the Richard Howe House have substantial architectural elements and fabric that directly relate to the era of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Nearly all of the extant exterior features, including the stone lintels, door surrounds, and window fenestration, illustrate high style elements of Federal architecture.
The Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition restored the Richard Howe House to its original glory as a regional landmark. The Howe House serves as an information center for residents and visitors to the Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area, as well as meeting and office facilities. Working with the City of Akron and our community partners, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition celebrates the heritage of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Our goal is to stimulate community enrichment and economic development through the restoration of the Richard Howe House and Towpath Trail.