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.