Dear Families and Friends of the Columbus Learning Cooperative,
As yesterday was Halloween, we thought we'd dedicate this newsletter to sharing some info about the big, beautiful (and sometimes spooky) mansion that the Columbus Learning Coop has been calling home for the past year and a half.
The W.H. Jones Mansion was built in 1889 for William and Josephine Jones at 731 East Broad Street, a wide, tree-lined boulevard. It was originally built for 11,250 dollars (about 300,000 dollars in modern day USD).
William H. Jones was born in 1842 near Zanesville, Ohio. He married Josephine C Grummon in 1865 and together they had a daughter, Dorah Jones. The family lived in Toledo before moving to Columbus. Jones made his fortune as a wholesaler of "dry goods," which were considered to be textiles, sundries, and even some furnishings. He was first a proprietor of Jones, Garner and Co., and then Jones, Witter & Co. According to census documents, the Jones family occupied the mansion with their various servants and coachmen until William's death in December 1922 and his wife's death the following December.
Our little Hogwarts, takes influences from many styles of architecture including Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque. It was built of red pressed brick on high ashlar stone, with a hip slate roof. Other distinctive features include the ornate friezes and lintels that adorn the outside of the building, a corner turret, and a third story ballroom. The rear carriage house is one of the largest and most elaborate carriage houses remaining in the city of Columbus.
The legend goes that Jones modeled his home after another in Barnesville, Ohio- which is apparently no longer standing. According to the story, the Barnesville mansion was built by a man with a very sickly daughter. He consulted a soothsayer, who told him to build a house with protective numerology in the architecture. The house (and it's alleged copy) was built with ceramic gargoyles to ward off sickness and specific numbers of steps up from the street, columns around the front porch and twists in the ironwork, all in groupings of threes, sevens and nines.
The story itself may have been twisted around over time, though...
After some research we found no proof of such a mansion in Barnesville. Yet, we did find an almost exactly duplicate mansion built on East Ferry Avenue in Detroit, Michigan (pictured on the left or top below). The two are almost identical. In fact, when we presented our members with the two pictures and asked which mansion was ours, the majority picked the wrong one! The Detroit mansion was originally owned by George A. Owen, who coincidentally also worked for a dry goods company. The Owen House, which is now operating as a bed and breakfast, was a project by renowned Detroit architect John Scott. It was built from 1886-1887, a full two years before the W. H. Jones Mansion was completed.
So, why are they so similar? Did the two men meet while in the dry goods business? Did they both model their mansions after a long-gone Barnesville original? It remains an intriguing mystery. Since 1922, the house has been the home of the Schorr Ketner Furniture Company, as well as many offices including that of a lawyer, and a construction company. Most recently, it was home to Local Matters, a community food advocate. The building was declared a National Historic Place in 1978, when it was in danger of being demolished to make way for a Long John Silver's restaurant. It was also chosen as the Decorators' Show House in 1987.
All we can say is that we feel lucky to call the W. H. Jones Mansion our home, and that the special magic of the place feeds our inspiration to learn every day. Happy Halloween!
Yours in Learning,
Kate Weigel, Multimedia Director (on behalf of)
Devin Fraze, Founder and Director
Marcelle Gilkerson, Mentor
Destiny West, Administrator
Ulises Cruz, Facility Manager
Tommy Jones, Teacher
Rosemary Marston, Teacher
Cary Harris, Teacher
"Never make fun of someone if they mispronounce a word. It means they learned it by reading." -Unknown
Sources for this newsletter: Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Library Digital Archives, Old House Dreams, Wikipedia, National Park Service, Ohio Department of Transportation, The Inn at Ferry Street, Columbus Neighborhoods, a Guide..., and Ohio Historic Places Dictionary.