Our story goes back 183 years–from a stop on the Underground Railroad to an African-American resort community where boxer Joe Louis was known to stay, Lucy Depp Park has quite the history!
Abram Depp, a freed Virginia slave, made his home on nearly 400 acres here in Concord Township in 1835. He purchased the land from Joseph Sullivant (son of Franklinton founder Lucas Sullivant) making it Delaware county’s first farm owned by an African-American.
He and his family turned the land into a small community, one that was used to help escaped slaves reach freedom in Canada. The escaped slaves hid in limestone caves along the Scioto River during the day. (Those caves were flooded in when the O’Shaughnessy Dam was built in the 1920s).
As you exit the light show, you’ll see the Depp barn, and in front the barn is the bell that was rung in the middle of the night to give the “all clear” signal to the escaped slaves. Legend has it that no runaway slaves that traveled through the Depp’s Underground Railroad stop were ever returned to bondage.
In the 1920’s, Depp’s daughter, Lucy, for whom our community is named, sold a portion of the Depp property to Robert Goode who had plans of establishing an African-American community here.
In 1928, Goode established Lucy Depp Park as a 102 acre subdivision with 720 lots, some of which sold for as little as $50.
It was not long before the peace and tranquility the area offered turned Lucy Depp Park into something of a summer resort for African-Americans from Columbus and elsewhere, from world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and, from time to time, musicians traveling through the area.
Today, most of the houses in the neighborhood are original Lucy Depp Park homes, including all 5 homes in the show. The neighborhood still has a diverse culture and, save for this one month when we do our light show, still offers the peace and tranquility it did all those years ago.