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A window into history

Oak Ridge House offers historical venue for events

By Taylor Burnette

From politics to family living, the three-story historical home on South Eighth Street in Ironton has seen it all.

The Oak Ridge house, built in 1891, is now a stunning and unique event venue in the heart of the city, featuring high ceilings, glass chandeliers and a grand staircase, along with charming historical details.

Erica Berry, who currently runs the space with her husband, jokes that her father purchased the home during a “midlife crisis,” and later decided it could be used as an event venue. The house holds seating for 102 guests, and has held weddings, parties and photoshoots,     Berry said.

The front veranda is visible from the street, with the original wooden-plank roofing above being held up by white pillar columns. Thin burgundy bricks cover the house, accented by the house’s white windows and features.

Above the front door, “OAK RIDGE” is spelled out in unique custom glasswork, and the oversized wooden door leads into the front of the house.

The front entrance to the foyer features two more unique wood and glass pane double doors that open into the rest of the house. The doors are one of Berry’s favorite features because of the detail, like the ornate glass handles, and how elaborate they make the entrance into the house feel.

“I have always liked all the details in this house,” Berry said. “These two doors are the first thing I fell in love with when I came in.”

In the foyer, all eyes are directed to the magnificent wooden staircase featuring glowing lamps on both sides and a rolled out red carpet for the house’s guests.

At the top of the stairs is a colorful stained-glass window original to the house, and a small wooden sitting area with cabinets and benches. Berry said the small, open room is often used for photography due to its unique lighting.

On the first floor, the first two rooms feature the house’s original fireplaces and some of the house’s other large, original windows. The historic furniture throughout the house has been collected over the years by Berry’s parents.

For events, the venue offers stand up tables that can be moved and set up as the host wishes. Typically, the larger room is set up with tables, Berry said, and there is plenty of space for food.

The dining room leads to the house’s kitchen, which leads to a large screened-in porch.

Up the grand staircase, on either set of curved stairs beyond the stained-glass landing, are the more intimate rooms of the house. Often, the former bedrooms are used as an area to get ready for a bride or groom. Berry said she would like to possibly turn one of the rooms into an overnight bridal suite with a set of ornate, vintage furniture.

The second-floor bathrooms in the house are currently under renovations, but the original claw foot bathtub will stay in the house. Berry said they are utilizing the time during the pandemic that the house has been empty to take care of some of the issues in the home.

Unique features in the Oak Ridge House do not end on the first and second floors, however. An old servants’ entrance can be accessed from the back door of the house, and leads to what Berry has said is dubbed “the ballroom.”

The ballroom features windows looking out around the city, with windows on all four sides of the room. The ballroom is currently not available for rent, Berry said, but she looks forward to seeing what can be done with it in the future.

Originally built by someone who Berry has heard was in the oil business, the house was used mostly for parties back when it was originally built. Rumor has it that a U.S. president once stayed the night in the house, and Berry said the it was once referred to as the “GOP House.”

She believes the ballroom space was used for the house’s many parties over the years.

“I would have loved to see what it looked like when it was first built,” Berry said.

A telephone connects the ballroom and the kitchen, and there is also what Berry believed to be a dumb-waiter going all the way up.

Although it has been closed through the pandemic, and will likely remain closed through September, Berry said she is still dreaming up ways for the house to be used going into the future, and is thinking of maybe starting a business there.

The house can be rented hourly or by the day, with additional rates available for photography sessions.