The Orr Mansion
The William Orr Residence:
William Orr Residence is now the home of the Logan County Historical Society. The Logan County Historical Society purchased the home and the attached nursing home in 1988 for $50,000. After much work remodeling, it was opened to the public in 1989.
The home cost $40,000 when it was built in the early part of the 20th century. This was a huge sum of money, for the average factory worker may only have made $2 per day. To show the change in times, in 1995 the Society restored the tile roof on the mansion at a cost of nearly $90,000.
I. BACKGROUND OF WILLIAM ORR
A. Came to Logan County from Uniopolis, Ohio, about 1891.
B. He was a lumberman who owned lumber mills in Kenton and Huntsville. In 1904, he moved his Huntsville Lumber Mill to Bellefontaine. At this time, he resided at 108 North Park St.
II. FACTS ABOUT THE ORR HOME
A. Bought the property from Mrs. Kate Berndt in 1906 for $2,500 in 1906. The property originally was part of the Hubbard family land.
B. The home was built in 1906—1908.
C. It was built with the finest lumber - some imported, all seasoned many years. It took two years to complete.
D. Mr. Orr called it his “dream house.”
III. CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOUSE
A. Woodwork: All hand-rubbed, quarter-sawed white oak
B. Flooring: The dining room was inlaid of honey-colored wood and the entrance and living rooms were parquet flooring.
C. Windows: Front entrance was all leaded glass and a large window at top of the stairs was stained glass.
NOTE: These windows were stolen before the purchase by the Historical Society and were replaced with plain glass. The stair window was replicated in 1997 at a cost of $3,010. This money was raised through contributions. The glass was done by Vera Proctor Sickles, a graduate of Bellefontaine High School, class of 1964, using a photograph of the original window as a guide. She also recreated the leaded glass panes at the house’s front door.
IV. OTHER OWNERS OF THE HOME
A. Mr. and Mrs. Carl E. Stuber, who bought it in December 1922, for $15,000.
B. Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Harrold, who bought it in January 1926, for $25,000. The property was transferred to Odessyl & L. H. Kelly in February 1942. (Mr. Harrold died in 1937 and his wife Odessyl married and later divorced Walter S. Kelly. The house rented out at times when the Harolds/Kellys were out of town.
C. The Harold Kerr Post of the American Legion, which bought it in May 1947, for $25,000.
D. Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Pickering, who bought it in November 1953, for $27,500
E. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Latham, who bought it in September 1960, for $38,500 and built additions on the north of the home in 1961, 1963, and 1965. These additions were used for the Latham Nursing Home business. The home could handle up to 52 patients, had a staff of twenty and was directed by Mrs. Olga Latham. The rates in 1965 were around $8.00 per day. The home closed in 1984, and the city’s zoning code prevented businesses from locating there. The Latham’s moved out in the late 1970s, and the building sat empty and uncared for until purchased by the Society.
V. HOME REFURBISHED/REMODELED - The Pickering Family did some major refurbishing and remodeling in the house.
Mrs. Pickering began the remodeling and kept very good records. When the bills were totaled, she had used:
1. 54 gallons of varnish remover and the same amount of alcohol.
NOTE: The beautiful woodwork had been painted, so she stripped all paint off.
2. Cut crystal chandeliers were purchased at a cost of $275 each for the living rooms and $249 for the one in the dining room.
3. They also built a two-car garage on to the back of the house.
4. The original door from the Music Room to the side entrance was closed up and the wall torn out for a doorway to be put into the downstairs hall.
5. New kitchen put in on first floor.
6. Dining room ceiling paneled and beams added and wainscoting refinished. Also wallpapered upper walls in Winchester Hunting Scene.
7. Living room had fireplaces relined and tiled; all walls were re-plastered, the woodwork was refinished, all floors were sanded, and all lighting was replaced.
8. Back stairway was closed and made into closets.
9. First floor bathroom tiled—both ceiling and floor.
10. Bought and laid 480 yards of carpeting.
11. Baseboard heating put in living rooms and kitchen.
12. Basement stairway and ceiling re-plastered and room in basement paneled.
13. 35 doors were stripped and re-varnished throughout the house.
The Society has plans to continue to restore this fine house to make it even more of a showcase of how an upper middle class family may have lived at the turn of the 20th century.
Based on the work of Jean Leininger. March 1996
The Logan County Historical Society renovated the first floor of the Orr Mansion in 2001. The rooms were redecorated primarily in the Arts & Crafts style that was popular in the early 1900s. The Society did not have photographs showing what the original wallpapers or paint looked like. The Society hired Bethany Wical of Flair IV Design to research the time period and decorate the home in a style that best represented the time it was built and what we knew of Mr. Orr.
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