The Ashland Press of September 18, 1896, reported “F.E. Myers, the popular implement dealer and his family moved into their new home on the corner of Center and Bank streets (later called College Avenue).” The paper called it a magnificently finished and furnished home inside and is added proof that Ashland is a town of many fine residences.
The new three-story heavy rock-faced limestone home had a turret and a candle snuffer roof. Some had called it more monstrous than beautiful; more flamboyant than tastefully striking. Others called it an American castle.
It resembled a house that had been built on a quiet avenue in New York City 13 years earlier, the house designed by William Morris Hunt and built by William Vanderbilt. It symbolized the era and, like its owner, it was one of a kind.
Francis Enoch Myers was born in 1949 in Perry Township. The son of George and Elizabeth (Morr) Myers, he was one of eight children. His father was a farmer.
When F.E. was 22, he came to town to work in a dry goods store and soon left to become a salesman for a local clover huller works. He was paid $65 per month or a 10 percent commission. He took the commission. He bought a horse in time from Emmanuel Swineford for $100. The commission allowed him to take up other lines. A few years later, he sold for the Imperial Plow Co. of Canton, who sent him to the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
When Alta Sims was doing her research for attaining recognition of the Center Street homes on the National Register of Historic Places, she discovered a letter, published in the Press. It had been sent by F.E. to his brother P.A (Philip Andrew) from Philadelphia. It reveals some insight into the man, who with his brother, founded the F.E. Myers and Bro. Co.; the man, who with little formal education, rose from a single farm boy to a millionaire.
“From my experience, I would say don’t be afraid of being lost in the city. Come with very little baggage. Don’t turn away because the street is so narrow and there are white board blinds and red brick walls and old fashion at that. Inside you may find a Brussels carpet, a piano, paintings on the wall, a marble fireplace mantelpiece, and all that is elegant. And sure if your experience is as mine, you will find warm-hearted people there who have allowed the sanctity of their home to be invaded by your strange feet and will toil for your comfort and give you the best their larder will afford, which is a good deal for the markets here are a never ending supply of goods. You will come away with a broader view of the world you live in and the people who in habit it.”
In 1871, F.E. married Alavesta Hohenshil from Rowsburg, and the year after their new home was built, they observed their silver wedding anniversary there.
The Press said the home was a brilliant and lively scene from 2 o’clock Monday until nearly 2 o’clock Tuesday morning. “Almost like the grandest palace with its fine appointments, glass paneled doors, mirrored walls, softly frescoed ceilings, its inset and oiled floors, rich rugs, extensive paintings, broad hall, and spacious rooms, it made a perfect setting.
“Mr. and Mrs. Myers stood at the entrance of the reception room in their easy, informal manner, received all with a heartiness of manner that made everyone feel perfectly at home.”
Through the reception, the popular New York Trio, “which has several times delighted Ashland people, discoursed the sweetest music.”
Refreshments of “cold meats, bread, pickles, cake, ice cream, candy and other delicacies satisfied the longings of the appetite.”
“Mrs. Myers was at her loveliest in a beautiful gown of pearl gray brocaded silk. Miss Mayme Myers, the eldest daughter, was attired in a handsome gown trimmed in violets. The dresses were made in Philadelphia, and of course were of the finest material and manufacture.”
A loving cup service was performed by the Rev. A.H. Smith at 6:30 for members of the family and a few friends. A gift of a large silver cup bearing three handles and engraved with names of the Myers family (in all about 40 members) was presented to the couple and passed around the circle where the witnesses sipped unfermented wine.
No one enjoyed the reception more than Mr. and Mrs. George Myers and Mr. and Mrs. S. Hohenshil, parents of the couple.
“As they left the next day, the Hohenshils looked at the old sorrel Bill, the horse that carried Mr. Myers and his bride to Rowsburg 25 years earlier and the one he bought from Swineford and used in his travels. Bowing to humble submission after hauling a man to great business success, the horse contentedly carried Mr. and Mrs. Hohenshil to their home.”
Two other outstanding social events were the weddings of two daughters. Mary Estell (Mayme) was married to Frederick Livingston Parker on January 27, 1909, when 350 guests witnessed the ceremony. The paper assured the readers that Mr. Parker lived in just as fine a home in Westfield, Massachusetts.
Helen Myers married Thomas W. Miller March 31, 1909. Member of the Nine Pins Club formed two rows on the wide staircase and held a white ribbon in one hand to form a passageway for the bridal party, and large bouquets of sweet peas in the other.
Other Myers children were John C., who followed his father as president of the company; Katherine, who died in Florence, Italy in 1906 while on a European tour; and Jay, who died in 1915.
At the time of his death in 1923 Mr. Myers was also president of the Cleveland, Southwestern and Columbus Railroad, a director of the Nickel Plate Railroad, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Wittenberg University, director of the Faultless Rubber Co., and on the boards of several banks and industries.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Myers were very philanthropic, giving to benefit several churches, the hospital and the community.
Among the items from the home at Ashland County Historical Society are the architect’s drawing of the home, an oil portrait of F.E. Myers, and several pictures of the home’s interior, and some items of furniture and clothing.
Following the death of their parents, the heirs gave the house to Ashland College, and during the 1940s and early 1960s it was used as their music department and for formal parties.
When the Arts and Humanities Building was completed on Ashland College’s campus, the college no longer had use for the building, and it stood idle for a number of years. Eventually, the land was purchased by the trustees of the Good Shepherd Home in 1975 and was razed to make room for the Good Shepherd Villa apartments.
The operator of the dismantling crane was heard to remark, “Boy, is she stubborn. She resists every blow we give her.”
The icon of Ashland glory days was demolished in 1975 to make way for the current apartment complex.