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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Settee and Chair, day 8

Today I finished the gluing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Settee and Chair. Day 7

I did some minor gluing yesterday and moved on to gluing up the three failure spots today; the center support and the two back joints. I've been curious whether those two back joints are original to the piece, or part of a later repair. I've found the answer by googling and finding several photos of Meeks settees that clearly show those joints. Most telling is the description and photos of this lot in a 2011 Cowan Auction, where the back is also "loose and needs reglued":

Here is today's episode:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Settee and Chair, days 4 and 5

Continuing on with the settee issues. Yesterday and today I worked exclusively on the crest carving...softening the glue with vinegar and working up to soaking the right amount of heat into the piece to get it to let go. Here's the result...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Settee and Chair, Part 3

Today I made a little progress on the settee. I didn't originally intend to turn this into a documentary, but one thing leads to another. Here is day 3:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Settee and Chair. Part 2

A further look at the Meeks settee to evaluate its structural problems and how to fix them.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

J. and J. W. Meeks Settee and Chair

I'm uploading this short video to document what I've discovered so far about the condition of the settee and armchair we recently acquired at Oak Hill Cottage from the estate of Wilda Lee Preston, great granddaughter of Dr. Jones of Oak Hill. These are laminated rosewood pieces, generically referred to as "Belter" after the manufacturer who originated this type of construction. Ours were made by the J. and J. W. Meeks furniture company in the "Hartford" pattern. At Oak Hill we had one side chair of this set still in the house, so now the set consists of three pieces.

Friday, July 11, 2014

hancock heights

The Historical Society has completed research on 417 Annadale Ave. in Mansfield and has taken a position opposing the proposed demolition by the new county land bank.


417 Annadale Avenue is one of ten identical brick houses situated across Olivesburg Road from the Reformatory in Mansfield, OH. Anecdotal evidence and the proximity to the Reformatory have suggested that they were built to house construction workers who were building the prison, or prison employees.

Construction of the Intermediate Penitentiary was begun in 1886.  Its name was officially changed to the Ohio State Reformatory in 1891, and it received its first prisoners in 1896, although construction continued after that date. 

Hancock and Dow, a local construction firm specializing in stonework, was awarded the initial construction contract. Robert G. Hancock and William Dow were the principals of the partnership. Hancock had emigrated from England in 1870, bringing large scale cut-stone work to Mansfield.  Mr. Hancock was married prior to leaving England, and the couple had nine children, of whom four survived him as heirs on his death in 1909. They were Ada (Underwood), Robert J., Albert E., and Anna (Goodwin). 

The parcel of land on which the 10 houses sit was originally part of the Wise farm, on which resided Mansfield resident Phoebe Wise, made famous by stories written by Louis Bromfield. Phoebe had sold 34 acres to the State of Ohio in 1885, making up part of the land on which the new prison was to be built.  In 1892 the remainder of the Wise farm was sold at sheriff’s sale to satisfy the Wise heirs, and a 26 1/2 acre parcel was purchased by Robert J. Hancock.




The ten houses built on the northern tip of the 26 1/2 acre were called Hancock Heights.  The school at the corner of Olivesburg Rd. and Fleming Falls Rd. was called Hancock Heights School and is shown on the 1896 map which is part of the county atlas of that year. 

The first city directory to list residents of the allotment was in 1899, but prior to that time did not list addresses that far out of the city.  The addresses were 1, 3, 5, and 7 Olivesburg Rd. and six unnumbered addresses.  H. C. Castor, the Assistant Superintendent at the Reformatory, was listed at 1 Olivesburg Rd.  Seven of the remaining properties were occupied by the families of Reformatory guards.  One occupant was listed with no occupation noted, and one of the unnumbered addresses was occupied by Albert E. Hancock with his occupation listed as engineer. 

By 1904 the directory listed the addresses as 1, 3, 5, and 7 Olivesburg Rd., 1, 3, 5, and 7 Anna, and 3 and 5 Robert (or Roberts).  Occupants were more diverse, including teachers at the Reformatory, a brushmaker, and a foreman at the Ohio Brass. 

After Robert G. Hancock died in 1909 there was some division of the larger property among the brothers and sister, with Robert J., his son, still owning the Hancock Heights parcel. 

Albert E. Hancock (son of R. G.) was advertising rentals in the paper in 1910 though 1912.


The Hancock Heights allotment was an enterprise of the Hancock family to provide rental housing for married employees of the Reformatory. Other than the Superintendent’s quarters in the prison, there was no accommodation for wives and children. The state owned employee housing for guards and officers consisted of barracks within the prison walls. The division and sale of the Wise farm must have presented an opportunity for the Hancock’s to fill this need. Some of the anecdotal evidence agrees with this rationale: that the houses provided affordable rental housing for employees with families.  

The allotment was platted in 1947 as the Anna Wolf Allotment, and the street names later changed to Annadale and Gare.  417 Annadale Ave. was originally 3 Anna Ave.

Hancock Heights is a small community of ten identical houses representing a 19th Century rental housing development. It was situated to provide affordable housing for families employed at the state owned prison, across the road. A frame, one room schoolhouse, no longer standing, was built at about the same time as the houses. Numerous references in newspaper articles to “Hancock Heights” throughout the first half of the 20th Century make it evident that the community was well-known and required no further identification.

The ten houses in Hancock Heights are very similar to the small brick houses built as rentals on the south side of Mansfield by German bricklayer and contractor, Jacob Scholl.  Like the Scholl houses, Hancock Heights is evidence of rental property development in the late 1800s which might otherwise not be evident, if not for these modest brick houses.

Hancock Heights is associated with Robert G. Hancock, the stone contractor who brought large cut-stone construction methods to Mansfield, incorporated in landmark buildings here. On his death in 1909, the subsequent divisions of the larger property among his children, and the fact that son Albert had resided in one of the houses and acted as rental agent, suggests that it was a family enterprise, rather than just a project of son Robert J. whose name is on the deed.

All ten original houses still stand, and there is no evidence yet found that any other houses were built. Without question the community of ten brick houses, if kept intact, qualifies as a local or national historic district. 




Friday, May 9, 2014

mechanics bank

An article in the News Journal today features the renovation of the buildings along South Main Street in Mansfield by Mechanics Bank.  Not mentioned in the article, but an important aspect of how this renovation was planned, is the fact that the buildings are in the Central Park Historic District and had to pass muster through the design review process before the Historic Preservation Commission. 

"Much of the building’s original structure has been kept intact, including red brick walls and sweeping archways. Modern touches have been added, including an indoor brick walkway named 'The Mechanics Way,' which is complete with lampposts, a storefront and decorative ceiling. The brick walkway leads to the courtyard."

This marks a change in direction for Mechanics from previous expansions and updating of its downtown headquarters.  Former expansions into the adjacent building westward on Park Avenue and south on Main Street into the former Smart's music store building involved near featureless cladding of the storefronts with pink marble, a practice that would not have gained approval under the design guidelines now in place since 2003. 

The News Journal website has a gallery of pictures from yesterday's open house (link above) if you can get past the pay wall and tolerate the advertising.  Here are a few pictures from my files of the way it used to be.

c. 2005

16 S Main 2003


Little Journeys Bookshop 16 S. Main

Renovation at Uncle John's, next door in 2011.

c. 1900

Bowland Mansion, where Mechanics Bank now stands.

Fox Hunt

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

181 s franklin ave

The News Journal reports a fire destroyed 181 S. Franklin Ave. last night.  This is one of the Jacob Scholl built houses featured in previous posts.  The house was vacant, but with electricity still on, according to the NJ. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

more jacob scholl properties

NCSC Urban Center, N. Main Street

The 1882 map of Mansfield shows these two buildings and one behind them owned by Jacob Scholl, and undoubtedly built by him.  (see the previous post about 320 Altamont)
9/10/2013 Correction to the above caption:  Peggy Mershon has brought to my attention a notice in the Mansfield Herald of Dec. 4, 1879 which states that Jacob Scholl has purchased these N. Main Street buildings from Senator John Sherman.  Scholl was in the process of erecting the brick warehouse in the rear, but assuming he built these two buildings is very doubtful.  Sherman partnered with Jacob Emminger in a sash factory business across the alley to the rear of this location.  Emminger was an engineer and a builder as well. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

320 altamont avenue

The Richland County Historical Society reviews proposed demolitions prior to their being submitted to the Ohio Preservation Office for Section 106 Review, which determines whether the property is historically significant and may require remediation.  If our review warrants comments, they are included with the city's submission to Columbus.  The property at 320 Altamont was recently singled out for demolition, and the following article is our commentary on its significance.  Hopefully this will help forestall the loss of this house, and others built by Jacob Scholl in the mid 19th Century.

320 Altamont is a 1 1/2 story, gabled brick house located in an addition to the city that was platted in 1863.  The street name was originally Cemetery St. and the house number was 9.  At the time the house was built and still today it is on the short street that approaches the entrance to the Mansfield Cemetery.   It is one of a number of similar houses built on the South side of the city by Jacob Scholl (Shull), a German immigrant stonemason.   

Jacob Scholl was born in Bavaria in 1808 and immigrated in 1840 after the death of his parents.  He married in Mansfield in 1844 and practiced the trade of stonemason.  He is mentioned in Graham’s 1880 History of Richland County, OH as the successful bidder in 1846 to construct fire cisterns in the city.  In 1850 he went to the gold fields in California, apparently with little luck, and returned.  He and his wife had nine children, 7 of whom survived.  Brothers John and Peter Scholl partnered in the oil and gas business.  Brothers Joe and Jacob Jr. partnered in the drug business.  

Jacob Scholl acquired a large amount of property in the city.  His obituary mentions “business blocks” and dwellings.  An existing building at 215 N. Main Street on lot 310 is the “Scholl Block”.  He made his home at 111 S. Diamond St. which today is a house within the complex of buildings of the Diamond View assisted living facility.  On parallel streets, S. Franklin and S. Adams, there are 9 other examples of the 1 1/2 story brick houses built by Scholl.  All are modest sized consisting of a 26 x 16 front gabled body with a 16 x 16 side gabled wing.  Additional examples may be uncovered with additional research.
His obituary mentions that he contracted for street improvements and was a building contractor.   Some of the houses he built on Franklin and Adams St. would appear to have been kept as rental properties.  Perhaps most were rentals, but further research into the titles of each one would be necessary.  At least on the 1882 map, Jacob Scholl’s name is on multiple of these houses.
Jacob Scholl died in 1902.  The Mansfield News mentioned on May 28, 1902 that the meeting of the Pioneer Society on June 7 at the Madison Grange Hall would include a “general obituary of all the pioneers who have died in the county during the year”, naming Jacob Scholl as one of the subjects.  His newspaper obituary appeared in the Mansfield Shield on April 3rd of that year. 
The modest brick houses built by Jacob Scholl on the city’s south side are significant in being the craftsmanship of German immigrant tradesmen of the mid-19th Century, representing one of the many nationalities of people who made up the population of Mansfield.  The houses are very similar to the houses built by German immigrants in German Village Historic District in Columbus, Ohio.
Judging by the 1882 map these little houses have had a very high survival rate, and their historic integrity seldom marred by modern work.   They are all of a size that is within the ability of the individual homeowner to maintain or restore. 
Gallery of Houses Built by Jacob Scholl on S. Adams and S. Franklin




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

documenting 147 w. first st.

The following is documentation the Historical Society developed relating to 147 W. First St. which has apparently been torn down by the city without historical review. 

The house at 147 W. First Street is located on the west half of lot 2310 in a group of several lots just to the west and at the SW corner and outside of the original city boundary laid out in 1808.  The area is designated as Sturges Subdivision, originally owned by E. P. Sturges.  The ground was within the old Methodist graveyard according to the 1853 map of the city.  Adjacent, and within the city boundary was the Presbyterian graveyard, later to be occupied by the First Ward School, shown on the 1882 map of the city.  By that time the Methodist graveyard had also been removed and the area developed into lots. 

Like many houses in that district, 147 W. First Street is predominantly a Queen Anne style house.  It has the asymmetrical massing and irregular floorplan that are common elements of the style. A square tower or turret rises to a third story height between the main front gable and a prominent gabled side bay. Fishscale shingles cover the upper face of the gables and narrow clapboard siding covers the balance of the exterior walls.  Windows on the second floor of the turret and front gable are topped in a Gothic fashion. Eastlake elements predominate otherwise in bullseye motifs on the trim beneath the third floor level of the turret, incised carving of large brackets holding up the eaves of the bay gable and of gable trim elements, and the turned porch posts. 
Architectural historian Craig Bobby has given the opinion that the house and its neighbors are derived from plans by Palliser, Palliser & Co. shown in their 1878 catalog, Plate. 14. 
147 W. First Street was built c. 1885 along with two houses to the east identical in floor plan, form and roof line.  The trim elements of the three houses are different. It was first occupied by Harry Orwig, a travelling salesman, whose residence is first listed there in the 1886-87 city directory and numbered 44 at that time.

The existing residential neighborhood that includes W. First Street and W. Second Street out to Sturges Avenue was identified in the city’s Preservation Plan in 1985 as a priority for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.  Little has changed in that area until the recent spate of vacant properties, blight, and demolitions have threatened it.  The eminent demolition of this house, and its neighbor at 143 W. First street, would create a large gap in an otherwise unbroken block face. 143 and 147 are two of three side by side houses that are identical, save for the trim elements. A large imposing brick house at the east end of this block face has been inappropriately gutted by its owner and will be unlikely to survive.  The proposed demolition of 143 and 147 will leave two occupied Victorian era houses isolated from the neighborhood on the east end of this block.  Across the street demolitions have begun to seriously encroach, already isolating houses on the edge of the neighborhood nearest St. Peter’s School. 

147 W. First Street is RIC 0228-11 on the Ohio Historic Inventory.

The house has architectural qualities that would make it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is part of an area that Judith Williams, the author of Mansfield’s Preservation Plan, identified as a potential National Register Historic District, of which Mansfield has none established at this time.



update on 147 w. first st.

147 W. First St.
In 2009 at the worst juncture in the Historical Society's struggle with the city over Section 106 Review, this house at 147 W. First St. came up for a Council vote to be demolished.  At that time HUD had suspended NSP funding to the city because of the administration's ongoing disregard for the review process, and for not recognizing the Historical Society as a consulting party.  I spoke up at the Council meeting urging them not to vote on this because there had been no Section 106 Review of it, and it's being on the Ohio Historical Inventory and in a potential Historic District.  Mayor Culliver, however, urged Council to take the vote but that the demolition would be held up until the review had been completed.  Council voted 5-4 to demolish. 
In the 3 years since that time no further action was taken by the city.  Brian Dormaier and I secured the board-up and mowed the property.  Home Depot donated materials and Worner Roofing put a patch on the roof at one point.  Our ongoing efforts were made to keep the property from attracting further city attention, as long as nothing was moving forward. 
Unfortunately last month we became aware that the city has torn it down.  I've contacted Community Development and they have been promising to give us the review documents or Ohio State Preservation Office approval, but we are coming up on 1 1/2 months now with nothing forthcoming.  I'm assuming at this point that no review was done.  This is disheartening considering all the work that has gone into reviewing hundreds of demolitions for over three years now.  Out of all of those properties, the Historical Society had spoken up for this house, its neighbor at 143 W. First, and 331 Prescott.  143 W. First had dropped off the radar because it had a new owner. 
Another situation that we are in right now is that the city has not exercised a proper Programmatic Agreement with the SHPO, and with the Historical Society signed on as a consulting party.  We are now dangerously close to the same situation we were in in 2009 when NSP funding was suspended.

Monday, April 22, 2013

laundry building at the county home (dayspring)

This is the last remaining Richland County building from the 1870s era, which once included the Courthouse, Jail, Infirmary, and Children's Home.  All of these were brick with the banded stone pattern.  I've posted this here for a link from the I Love Mansfield facebook page.  This building, being north of the city and out of its industrial and coal-burning atmosphere is cleaner and brighter that the memories people have of the buildings in town. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Central Park Cut Through

Bill Sharp and I were on Doug Theaker's show at WMFD on the 11th, talking about the effort to eliminate the cut through of our Central Park here in Mansfield.  You can watch it here .
My vision of a restored Central Park is to reestablish the original design as much as current conditions allow (the original sidewalk pattern), and to halt future encroachments that eat up green space.