In describing 421 Center Street Alta Sims said it is a
“remarkable for its solid construction and its colorful quality; its
orange tile roof contrasts with the dark vertical siding and the brick
structure of the lower portion.”
Inside, the home is tastefully finished with fine woodwork and
beamed ceiling in the dining room and part of the living room.
Originally, many of the rooms had Tiffany-style shades.
William V. B. Topping built the home about 1907 replacing a
frame structure built by his father George, a hardware dealer, shortly
after the street was laid out.
The younger Topping, a graduate of the Naval Academy, left
his father’s business to establish the Safety Door Hanger Co. in partnership with Guy C. Bowman and John Burkholder to manufacture Burkholder’s invention of door hangers to be used on barns, factories, and warehouses. In 1915, a dozen pairs of door hangers weighing 96 pounds sold for $19.20. In writing about the company, historian Will Duff said the product was known from the Atlantic to the Pacific and also sold in South American. The plant on East Fourth Street had 14,000 feet of floor space and employed 20 people. With the popularity of the automobile, the Topping sons were no longer content to devote full time to the business their father started. Instead they opened a dealership in 1922 selling Fords and for a short time, Buick automobiles. Maurice continued as president of the Topping Mfg. Co., formerly known as the Door Hanger Co., and his brother Roger was also president of the Capital Finance Co. in 1930.
The Center Street property remained in the Topping family for 71 years until 1926 Edgar Koehl became the new owner. Koehl was president of the Ashland Printing Co., publisher of the Ashland-Times Gazette and had served as city auditor and several terms on the school board. From 1952 to 1964 Kenneth and Kathleen Gongwer and their family lived here. Stuart and Alice Smith purchased the home in 1964. Smith was formerly associated with the National Latex Co. as vice president for advertising specialty promotion. His office was located in the same building where the Safety Door Hanger Co. was formerly located. Ruth Detrow, realtor and city council member, lives here today with her dog, Goldie.