High on a hill in Fort Wright, Kentucky sits a modest 1940s house that was once home to Fern and Sheldon Storer. Fern was popular in the area due to her regular columns in the Cincinnati Post as the paper's food editor; she even went on to write her own cookbook. The Storers lived a quiet life in the house until they both passed away — Sheldon first, then Fern (years later) in 2002.
After their passing, the house and land were deeded to the Northern Kentucky University Foundation. NKU, unsure of how to effectively utilize the off-campus estate, sold it to the city of Fort Wright for a substantial amount. But the reason the property was so valuable is what makes the Storer's former abode interesting. Before the home was even built, the land was home to an entirely different history.
WHY IT MATTERS
The hill the house sits on was once a military outpost during the American Civil War called Battery Hooper. It was one of 30+ batteries built from Ludlow to Fort Thomas to repel the Confederate invasion of Cincinnati. With its placement on the Ohio River, the Queen City proved attractive to Confederate General Henry Heth and his soldiers, and Union troops sought to protect it.
With a sprawling southern view into Kentucky, the placement of Battery Hooper was ideal for spotting advancing enemy troops. When General Heth sent recon teams to scope out the line of military fortifications that included Battery Hooper, he decided his forces were woefully outmatched and retreated.
Thus, Battery Hooper and the hill upon which the Storer's house was later built helped repel a Confederate army from invading our city in 1862 without bloodshed.
COMMEMORATING ITS HISTORY
Due to its significance, the city of Fort Wright purchased the property with the intention of turning it into a museum that covered three subjects relevant to its location: Battery Hooper and the area's involvement in the Civil War, Fern Storer's professional legacy, and Fort Wright itself.
In 2005, the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum opened inside the Storer's old home. It was named for the NKU history professor and Civil War author of the same name.
The free-admission museum is filled with artifacts from the Civil War. Framed photos and storyboards about Battery Hooper and other fortifications tell the tale of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky's involvement in the war. A perfectly preserved 1950s kitchen pays tribute to the professional successes and interests of Fern Storer. And the room devoted to Fort Wright history explores various institutions and people in the area.
This 3-in-1, incredibly unique museum may not be especially large, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in niche local history appeal. Seldom do you find a museum as tailored to its physical roots as this one, which ultimately makes it worth a visit.
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The James A. Ramage Civil War Museum is located at 1402 Highland Avenue (41011).