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Tappan Square, Oberlin

#6 of 7 in Things to do in Oberlin
Landmark Tourist Spot
Tappan Square is a public park and National Historic Landmark at the center of Oberlin, Ohio. The park initially opened in 1885, on 13acre of city-owned land at the bequest of Oberlin College benefactor Charles Martin Hall. It was designed by the esteemed duo of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and John Charles Olmsted. The square in Oberlin was named in the 1940s, in honor of Arthur and Lewis Tappan, wealthy merchants of New York City who supported Oberlin College in its early days and who were ardent abolitionists. The square was previously known as College Park or the Campus. Until 1965 it held the Historic Elm, under which John Jay Shipherd and Philo Stewart were said to have knelt and prayed to God and on which spot they decided to found the town. The square held college buildings for many years, including a five-story brick college classroom and men’s dormitory called Tappan Hall. As the buildings on the square grew older, the area was cleaned up as a green space for the community, in accordance with the provisions of the will of Charles Martin Hall.HistoryThe site was founded by the presbyterian ministers John Jay Shipherd and Philo Stewart who declared their new community at the elm on the park's southeast corner. The historic elm remained on the square until disease expedited its removal in 1965. A year later, Tappan Square was granted landmark status. The park is named after Arthur Tappan, a 19th-century abolitionist who financially sustained the college in its early years. Initially known as “the Campus,” the square was home to several college buildings. At the bequest of 1885 alumnus and ALCOA founder Charles Martin Hall, the buildings were removed in order to designate the center of campus as a center for both students and community members. To this day, the only structures that remain in the square are the Clark Bandstand and the Memorial Arch.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
26 reviews
  • Tappan Square is the site of concerts, peaceful protests (there is usually a small group of elderly protesters on the corner), and overall relaxing fun. I used to see the famed albino squirrels there ...  more »
  • In the heart of Oberlin is Tappan Square. A National Historic Landmark public park that opened in 1885. Trees, beautiful trees and a beautifully landscaped, easily accessable experience. If you love n...  more »
  • This was a nice place for a quiet shady walk. Very small and ends at the buildings of the university.  more »
  • Peaceful, lovely scenery, place for people and pets to get a drink of water, historic feel.
  • A great place to see the students. Watch out for the squirrels.
  • Park in the heart of Oberlin. Paved, asphalt and brick walking paths through and around the square provide plenty of ways around campus and town. There is a lovely bandstand in the square with concerts on Friday nights in the summer. This is also the home of the Illumination Celebration during the College commencement week festivities.
  • Great spot for tree swinging and taking a Barefoot walk

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