Stonibrook was a large estate off Northampton Road in Peninsula, Ohio. The location was near what is now Blossom Music Center in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Bill and Ann Johnson were a married African American couple who lived on the 45-acre estate filled with evergreens and three inland lakes. Bill was a World War II veteran who returned to the United States after the war and worked as a physicist for the Atomic Energy Commission. His work for the AEC gave him the means to purchase the estate, according to the Cleveland Call & Post. The couple took residence on the property sometime in 1957. This property record conflicts with Summit County property records which state the land was owned by Albert and Celia Green. The Cleveland Call & Post may have erroneously reported the Johnson’s ownership of the land and the extent of the Johnson’s involvement in the land is ambiguous. In July of 1957, the resort suffered destruction in an arson attack that appeared to be racially motivated. According to Summit County property records, the Albert and Celia Green owned the property until August 4, 1957, one month after the arson attack.

Location of Stonibrook Arson | Call & Post, July 13, 1957

In 1949, the Stony Brook Club, Inc., was on a 45.5 acre parcel in Lot 61 in Northampton. The company’s president was Roy W. Akins and the secretary was Charles D. Akins. In 1949, the property was sold to Ellen R. Eastman. A delinquent land tax notice for the property was listed in the ABJ on December 30, 1950.

The December 16, 1951 Akron Beacon Journal detailed the Eastman’s ownership of Stonybrook. Ellen and her husband Anthony Eastman “bought a run down 50 acre campsite in Northampton,” so her children and her neighbors’ children “could have camping every summer without having to leave home.” Anthony was a civic leader in Akron with an impressive career, were some of his co-workers called him “the mad professor”. He main occupation was B.F. Goodrich personnel director. Anthony also served as a Salvation Army advisor, a University Club director, and Camp Y-Noah committeeman. He was also took on a United Fund trusteeship and was elected to the Akron Board of Education. The December 16, 1951 Akron Beacon Journal reported “If anything trips him, the worries say, it will probably be the same quality that makes him special – lack of ability to live along patiently amid things that don’t look right to him.” When not occupied with his civic and professional career, spent his spare time building roads, setting up a water system, and wiring and restoring the buildings on the property. They had three cabins on the property in 1951.

In the July 27, 1952 The Akron Beacon Journal the Stonybrook was listed for sale by the realtor company Ear G. Smith Inc. The property was marketed as “A touch of the Rockies… 8 miles from Akron.” The forested retreat was described as heavily wooded and filled with “an abundance of wildlife, birds and forest.” The recreational appeal of Stonybrook was also emphasized “Here’s unsurpassed relaxation, delightfully cool swimming, potential for seperate fishing lake, nature at it’s best unspoiled setting.”

On May 5 1953, Stonybrook was advertised again for sale as “Ideal for Private Club: Small Commercial Resort” on 45 acres with 6 furnished cottages with electricty, running water, etc. “An income producer of $3,000 per year. On June 16, 1953, Albert L. and Celbia B. Green bought the 45.5 acre property, while the Eastmans bought the Green’s property in Akron. Both the Eastmans, Greens and Roy Akins bought and sold several properties in Akron.

The Johnson’s residency at the property is only mentioned once—in the July 13, 1957, edition of the Cleveland Call & Post. Tract records kept by local historians do not mention that the property was ever owned by the Johnsons. Despite the absence of the Johnsons from tract records, however, the Cleveland Call & Post reported that the Johnsons purchased the property through Akron real estate agent Ed Griner. The property was comprised of lodges all furnished with electricity, and three inland lakes fed by spring water. The Johnsons planned to develop the property with $250,000, equivalent to about $2,400,000 in 2021. They intended to operate the estate as a summer camp for underprivileged Black youth. Months after the purchase of the property the Stonibrook was a target of arson on July 1, 1957. Call & Post reported the fire as a hate crime. Nearby, Cuyahoga Falls, nicknamed “Caucasian Falls,” was a known sundown town. An oral history collected by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park reports that the Ku Klux Klan had an office located off Northampton Road. Although Klan involvement is unconfirmed, there is a pervasive history of hate crimes in the area which must be considered.

Remaining cabins after arson attack | Call & Post, July 13, 1957

After the fire, Bill Johnson told the Call & Post, “If I die I am going to make certain that this property is made available to Negro youth, who have no opportunity to attend a summer camp.” Bill Johnson believed that the Akron Beacon Journal deliberately sought to silence the arson story. He stated, “There was a complete newspaper blackout of the incident by Akron daily and other area newspapers.” Later in the article he commented, “I was told during the war that this was a fight for democracy overseas – well, I’m fighting for it right here at home now, and if necessary, they may come to call this Johnson’s tomb.” It is unclear what happened to the Johnsons, as this is the last time the couple appeared in the Call & Post. The family was never mentioned in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Bill Johnson and others cleaning rubble from arson| Call & Post, July 13, 1957

Per property records, Albert and Celia Green held onto StonyBrook until August 4, 1957, when it was sold to Nettie W. Slaughter of Cleveland. This purchase took place one month after the arson attack. The Slaughters took out a mortgage fromThe Greens in the amount of $15,000 and another for $2338.50 from the Harris Wrecking Co. In the latter mortgage, the property was described as “known as 4458-64 Northampton Rd, formerly known as Stoneybrook Club, now known as Hidden Valley Estate.” The Slaughters signed for two additional mortgages in December 1957 for Lots 61 and 51 in Northampton in the amounts of $7000 and $1500. During the next summer, in July 1958, the Slaughters sold the property to Oblie Elie of 3200 East 90th St in Cleveland.

In the present day, the former property is within the boundaries of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and is no longer a private residency.


  • Loewen, James W. Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. New York: Touchstone Press, 2005.
  • Williams, Bob. “Mystery Fire Razes Negro Resort: Set Hate Blaze Damage At $30,000; Owner To Rebuild.” Cleveland Call & Post. July 13, 1957.
  • “A Touch of the Rockies . . . 8 Miles from Akron.” Akron Beacon Journal. July 27, 1952.
  • “Biography in Brief Anthony Dey Eastman.” Akron Beacon Journal. December 15, 1951.
Northampton Rd in Cuyahoga Falls

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7 thoughts on “Stonibrook

    1. Hi William,
      Unfortunately, it is unknown what happened to the Johnson family. Local newspapers do not mention the estate or the Johnson family afterward. And unfortunately, no resources suggest that the summer camp ever came into being. The history of the property is not detailed in any land tract records I have found from local researchers, either. In 1966 the Musical Arts Association purchased the Blossom property. The land is now in Blossom Music Center/The Cuyahoga Valley NP.

    1. Hi Michael,
      I have not been able to find exact details. I have asked local researchers and archivists and no details have emerged. I will update the story if any resources are found.

  1. I thought that this property was on the opposite side of Northampton Rd and a little northwest of Blossom. There is the remains of a dam from a rather large lake that shows on many older maps. Above the former lake is an old chimney that appears to have been inside of a cabin at one time. Someone once told me that the KKK had destroyed a cabin in there. This is the first time, though, that I have seen a reference to the area as Stonibrook. The land is owned by NPS and has been for 30+ years.

    1. Hi Thomas,
      Thank you for your comment. You are correct. The property is a bit northwest of what is now the Blossom Music Center ampitheatre. It is located on a piece of land that was later accquired by Blossom Music Center and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The ruins at the former Stonibrook property is what prompted the initial interest in the location. I started this research as a Park Ranger at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and later brought it to Green Book Cleveland. There are CVNP oral histories that recall a hate-crime in the area and other locals who have reported similar stories.
      -Erich S

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