According to the Ashland Union of June 22, 1859, “Being
erected on Center Street, all of brick, are the private residences of Jacob
Hildebrand, Dr. J.P. Cowan, and Jonas Freer.”
Hildebrand came to America alone when he was only 13,
according to Hill’s Ashland County History. A native of Germany, he
eventually migrated to Pennsylvania, and came to Ashland County with
the Studebaker family in 1835. He first worked as a blacksmith.
Gen. Willard Slocum, the county’s highest ranking Civil War soldier,
appointed him assistant internal revenue collector. Later, he sold
insurance and served as a city councilman. His son, George, became the
editor of the Ashland Times and continued in the capacity when the Times and Gazette merged. Among the other owners of the house between 1865 and 1885 was J.B.F. Sampsel. While removing wallpaper, the Conrad family who lived in the home in the 1980’s found his name written on the wall underneath.
Originally, the home was Greek Revival. Since Philip Shearer, who purchased the home in 1885, was in the lumber business (Kagey and Shearer on the corner of Washington and Taylor Streets), it is very possible that he had the addition constructed and made other changes.
When his daughter, Kit, married F.J. Bockley, they moved in her parents, as was the common practice at that time. A 1911 city directory lists the Bockleys living there with their children, Martha and Philip, students. Another notation in the Ashland Press announced that that Fred Bockley had a new porch built on his Center Street home. For a period of 75 years, the house remained in the Bockley name.
Daughter Martha remained in the house many years after her parents’ deaths.
Forrest L. Conrad, Jr. and Judith Conrad purchased the home in 1987 from Kenneth E. and Sandra Booth, who bought it from the Bockley estate 10 years earlier. Continuing the restoration work, Ken and Diane Hammontree purchased the building and have operated the Jenny Wade Bed and Breakfast since 2003.
Architectural features of interest include the parquet floor in the entry hall, long self-supporting staircase, the French doors with leaded glass, dental molding, the leather wainscoting, cherry hardwood floors, and teardrop window trim.