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Historical Society looks to buy 'most beautiful home in Medina' to display 'collection as generations of donors intended'

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    In what has been called the most beautiful home in Medina, the McDowell-Phillips home is being purchased by the Medina County Historical Society for about $300,000. The house was built in 1890.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — The Medina County Historical Society plans to purchase “the most beautiful home in Medina” to display its collection.

Brian Feron, president of the historical society’s board of trustees, has signed a letter of intent to purchase the McDowell-Phillips House for about $300,000 from Drew and Miriam Phillips. The historical home is at 205 S. Prospect St.

Feron said Monday the huge Queen Anne shingle-style house eventually will become the second home to the county’s largest and oldest historical society.

The historical society currently is in the John Smart House, 206 N. Elmwood Ave.

Local historian Joann King said the additional space for the historical society is needed.

“This house will provide additional space for the society to display its extensive artifact collection as generations of donors intended,” King said Monday. “The home and surrounding grounds will also eventually serve as a new and unique venue for cultural and educational events as well as for community and private usage.”

Feron said after the historical society raises the $300,000 to buy it, another $200,000 will be set aside for preserving and repairing the home.

Feron said there are 14 rooms, including four full bathrooms and seven fireplaces, in the about 5,000-square-foot house. There are also two barns on the 1-acre property.

The value of the house and land on the Medina County Auditor’s website is listed at $247,540.

The front porch of the house was rebuilt after a car ran into the structure several years ago. There also is a new boiler.

Feron estimates that it would cost about $1 million to build the McDowell-Phillips home today. The home was built in 1890 by R.M. McDowell for $10,900.

Feron said he’s planning a private donor reception at the house at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30. He said the society will begin raising funds for the purchase.

“The owners have been very flexible with us,” Feron said. “We need time to raise the money.”

The historical society raised $150,000 in 1983 for the John Smart House. It conducted a land swap with the county for the Munson House, where it was once housed. The Munson House was moved from East Washington Street to 141 S. Prospect St.

“We’ve come full circle,” Feron said. “We outgrew the Munson House.

“Now, we’re out of room (at the John Smart House). This has been an answer to our prayers. We’ll have so much space in the most beautiful house in the city.”

He is hoping to collaborate with some community partners to help with painting, carpentry and landscaping.

Feron said he’s excited to announce the new community endeavor that will preserve one of Medina County’s most architecturally significant and historic homes.

Feron said the attic is filled with historical artifacts like letters from H.G. Blake, photos, furniture and trunks. R.M. and Elizabeth McDowell’s original bed also is on the second floor.

Most if not all of the items will be included in the sale price.

The house has been passed down through the family for 130 years.

McDowell was a prominent citizen and president of the Old Phoenix Bank. Elizabeth Blake McDowell was the daughter of H.G. Blake, a leading citizen in Medina County and Ohio, as he served as a state representative, U.S. Congressman and staunch abolitionist. Blake’s other daughter, Helen, married R.M. McDowell’s brother, O.H. McDowell.

“The society is concerned that a normal real estate sale of this home could easily lead to its demolition as the property’s size might lend itself to new construction,” Feron said.

“The beauty and historic nature of the home make it well worth an intense preservation effort.”

Miriam and Drew Phillips have triplet daughters, two of which still live in the house.

The family donated a sleigh and carriage to the historical society in the past. Miriam Phillips approached Feron a couple years ago about possibly selling the home.

“It’s a bit emotional for them,” Feron said. “They are ready to move on.”

Feron said he hopes the society can close on the house by Christmas in time for an open house.

The Medina County Historical Society was established in 1922. Its mission is to preserve and protect Medina County’s historic artifacts and information for future generations.

To donate to the project, send checks to MCHS, 206 N. Elmwood Ave., Medina, OH 44256, attention: McDowell House Campaign. For information, call (330) 722-1341 or email MCHS@Zoominternet.net.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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