The Historic Rumsey Ballroom is one of the oldest properties in Vermilion Ohio. The original house was built in 1835 and was later remodeled and expanded by Al Rumsey and his sister Anna. The expansive Rumsey Park Farm stretched over 148 acres and it had many outbuildings on the property. Al Rumsey boasted “There are seventeen buildings on this farm and you can get a cooked meal in any one of them any hour of the twenty-four.”
Albert Rumsey was the Commissioner of the Great Lakes Shipping association and maintained residences in Cleveland and Vermilion. He was known to practically every big shipper and vessel man along the Great Lakes and made money shipping ore and coal. He was first a Cleveland policeman and conductor of natatorium and physical culture gymnasium. He had a gym with a boxing ring constructed on his property and trained the famous boxer Jack Dempsey. He was a promoter of boxing matches which he held in hay lofts and barn yards by moonlight. In those days, the spectator had to be prepared to run away in case the sheriff around.
With the aid of his sister Anna, he converted the property into one of the most desirable estates on Lake Erie. He had a 2000 square foot ballroom added at the turn of the century with a large grand fireplace that was made from stones found on the property.
The home was one of the first to have electricity and you can still see the original circuit panel and breakers in the ballroom. As the master of the Rumsey estate he surrounded himself with animals of all kinds. He had a den of bears, wolves, foxes and other animals that were native to the land. He was an eccentric character and would take his bears into town on a leash. The bear cage on the property can still be seen from the lake.
Al Rumsey was married twice and had no children of his own. Upon his death in 1921, he requested that his home be converted into a home for sailors down and out. He left his estate to his housekeeper Miss Eleanor Gregory if she carried out his request that his funeral be held without mourners, without flowers, without music and without prayers. “If you dare send any flowers when I am dead I will come back and haunt you” he would tell his friends.
There were many other owners of the property, Pop Haines, the Rathburn Family, Ray Thoms, and Tom and Nettie White. There was also a lot of time that the property was rented out or vacant. There are many rumors about the Rumsey Farm, it was said that there was a tunnel that went from the basement in the house to the lake. There are stories about rum smuggling and being a stop on the Underground Railroad.