Shop Talk: History and Tradition at The Morgan House
Located in a converted farmhouse, The Morgan House has been a popular dining and shopping destination since its founding 35 years ago. This restaurant and giftshop combo provides guests with an all-encompassing experience. While they are open year-round, they hit their peak charm at Christmastime.
Kendra Heinlen worked in a gift shop in Dublin and dreamed of someday owning her own, with the added element of a restaurant. She wanted to create a whole-afternoon experience for guests where they could enjoy lunch and browse unique items. Her dream became a reality when she purchased a farmhouse, commonly called the Morgan House, in Southeast Ohio and moved it to its current location in Dublin. Her husband Steve, who is a homebuilder, helped her add on and create the now-familiar landmark. The addition of several thousand square feet, including a second dining room, kept the farmhouse design with open beams, brick walkways, and hardwood floors.
Although it formerly resided in Morgan County, that’s not where the farmhouse got its name. During the Civil War, the Weaver family owned the house. When Confederate General John Morgan brought his troops north on one of his infamous raids, they commandeered the farmstead and 200 Confederate troops camped out on the Weaver’s property. Locals started referring to the house as “Morgan’s House” because of his extended stay there, and the name stuck. When Heinlen purchased the house and opened her business, she kept the name as a nod to its long history.
Heinlen’s son, Travis, began working at The Morgan House while still in college. Twenty-some years later, he is still working in the operations of the business. Having spent so much time over the past two decades in the shop, he has come to know regular customers. Travis said it’s common for families to make a trip to The Morgan House a tradition.
“I’ve seen babies come in here in baby carriers,” he said, “who are now in college. It’s neat to watch them grow up through their trips here.”
One regular customer, Evelyn Mason, first discovered The Morgan House in the early 90s.
“It is a cozy, comfortable place and has become a tradition and fun outing with my daughter-in-law and granddaughters,” she said.
For the past few decades Mason and her family have enjoyed Christmastime at The Morgan House.
“We keep coming back because there’s always new things to see,” she said.
The Morgan House has two dining rooms, one in the original cabin and one in the addition. Both are outfitted in wooden tables and chairs and have a stone hearth that holds a warm fire on a chilly day. During Christmas, both dining rooms are decked out with trees and seasonal decorations.
The Morgan House Restaurant is run by Chef Chris Meadows. Meadows worked in the kitchen for many years before a brief intermission at another restaurant, and has recently returned to The Morgan House as head chef. Meadows creates daily chef specials along with an array of standby favorites. Among the more popular items on the menu are their chicken salad, Reuben sandwiches, and their own Morgan House Soup. Every day the restaurant also features a quiche and soup of the day. They also offer several salads with house-made dressings. For dessert, the restaurant offers berry, lemon meringue, and chocolate pies as well as a warm fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie served in a cast iron skillet with vanilla ice cream.
Adjacent to the restaurant is a separate cuisine gift shop that boasts a wide variety of treats. Specialty coffee by the pound, hot chocolate mixes, baking supplies, jams and jellies, tea service, and small giftable treats. They stock dozens of types of candies, their most popular being toffees and caramels.
The main giftshop spans four levels and is packed full of home décor, serving ware, clothing, handbags, and accessories from national vendors. There are also handmade items from over 40 local artisans ranging from art to greeting cards to jewelry. A few well-known offerings are Vera Bradley bags, Nora Fleming ceramics, and Christopher Radko ornaments. They also carry fully customizable upholstered furniture as well as offer an in-home decorating service.
The items in the shop cycle with the seasons. They feature home décor items for spring, summer, fall, and winter, but the most notable is season is Christmas. It is the only holiday for which the entire building transforms. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of Christmas trees are stocked with every imaginable type of ornament—traditional, themed, personalized, handmade, glass. Tree skirts hang from a railing, an army of Nutcrackers line up on an end table, themed greeting cards cover a display case, and holiday treats overflow from baskets.
The Morgan House’s two dining rooms and overall 18,000 square feet are a far cry from the one-room farmhouse that sat in Southeast Ohio over a century ago. Whether for dining or shopping, the Morgan House offers a one-of-a-kind experience to guests.
The Morgan House is open seven days a week and is located at 5300 Glick Rd. in Dublin.
More information can be found at www.morganhse.com.
All photos by Randi Walle.