SSRG completed extensive site improvements and repairs around the original historic John Rankin House. Built in 1825, the Ripley, Ohio home is a National Historic Landmark due to its role in The Underground Railroad. John Rankin was an abolitionist and Presbyterian minister. He lived in this house with his wife and their 13 children. Rankin is reputed to have been one of Ohio’s first and most active “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. Historians estimate that more than 2,000 slaves seeking freedom stayed with the Rankins—sometimes as many as 12 at a time. The Rankin House is where Harriet Beecher Stowe heard the personal story from an escaping slave which became the inspiration for her famous work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. SSRG has a history with Harriet Beecher Stowe. The house sits at the top of a steep hill. Enslaved people seeking freedom had to climb the hill to approach the house. Years ago, the house added a long flight of wooden stairs. This allowed visitors to experience the severity of the hill and better understand how motivated enslaved people were to achieve their freedom. In 2018, a landslide shifted some of the stairs and made them unsafe. Since then, the stairs have been closed to the public. Over the years, the area around the stairs became overgrown with vegetation. SSRG was brought in for an original scope of repairing the stairs. During the initial site visit, half of the stairs were inaccessibly because of the degree of overgrown vegetation. Teams cleared the area, then quickly and efficiently repaired and replaced the stairs in order to open them back up to visitors. SSRG skillfully solves a variety of complex historic restorations. While working, teams heard from the client that they always intended to clear the original stone step path on the lower part of the hill. The path still held the original stones, plus some old railroad ties that had been installed years ago. The SSRG team offered to help achieve this goal. The team cleared an additional 500 LF of path of vegetation, replaced all the railroad ties, and reset the original stones to make the path a more accessible area for visitors to experience. This was a different kind of scope than SSRG usually takes, requiring meticulous craftwork to repair the trail while maintaining a natural appearance. The client was thrilled with the experience, expressing great appreciation for the team’s eye for detail.