At the turn of the 20th century, this home  stood on the southeast corner of  Public Square, today the location of the Medina County District Library. Built by pork dealer and merchant, David King in 1833, it must have been a dazzling sight in the tiny village which was just evolving from log cabins to little clapboard structures.  King, a man who obviously dreamed big, modeled it after the White House.

Today, still dazzling, the structure stands on a corner one half mile away, on North Broadway Street, amid rows of newer, more modest homes.  This grand dame of a house had  a near death experience in the 1990’s when a previous owner passed away after letting it deteriorate badly.  Fortunately, the new owner, whose family had lived there in 1940’s and 50’s,  was in a position to restore it to its previous grandeur.

Around 1900, the house was owned by Fremont Phillips, a leading citizen in the village.  A self-made man, Phillips started out as a teacher and eventually became a lawyer, mayor of the village, U.S. Congressman and probate judge. He was so prosperous that when electricity came to Medina, he owned the power plant.  Obviously a man who liked to be in charge — he had the switch to power the four new arc lights on Public Square installed in his living room.  He then decided when to illuminate the Square.

In 1905, Phillips decided to leave the Square — but not necessarily his beautiful, stately home.  His reasons are not known.  Perhaps the Square had gotten too noisy and commercial. At any rate, he sold the prime lot to a local cattle dealer, Franklin Sylvester, who wanted to achieve immortality by building a library for Medina that would bear his name.

Phillips then got busy and moved his entire household — lock stock and mansion.

His daughter, Florence Phillips, provided a vivid description of the event in a talk she gave to the Medina County Historical Society in 1952.

“The second week in June we prepared to move,” she wrote.  “The back part was cut first and taken onto North Broadway St. where it was turned and headed north.  The main part, 72 feet across, was taken and in the same way it was turned into the street.  Small rollers on railroad track ties were used to move the building.  In five days time, it was up and on a new foundation.”

The house arrived in its new location — a dirt road in what was still a rural area — without any damage.  In fact, the family continued to live in it during the move.  The only complaint came from the youngest member of the family, Tom, who claimed that he “lost his marbles.”

5 Responses to “Then and Now: The Story of a Grande Dame”

  1. Jess Brown Says:

    Fremont Phillips sounds like a very interesting person. I loved reading about him.

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