Old Houses of Warsaw
George A. Nye

I have often been asked about certain old houses in Warsaw as to their age etc. One of the first show houses of the village it is said was where the K. P. Lodge Home is now. Here in early day was a frame house in which C. B. Simonson lived. He was an attorney in the village. This house had brass knockers which was something new. Later Andrew Peterson and his family lived here. Dave Peterson was one of the sons. He told us once that when he played around here with other boys that there was a pond opposite the present library site to the south and several piles of lumber afforded hide outs. George R. Thralls, who was about the earliest surveyor of the village, built the first brick house within the town limits about 1848. It was in the west part of town southeast of the present West Ward school house. Thralls went to Florida some years later and sold the place. (Died in Florida 1888) In the advertisements in the old Indianians he mentions that the house has about fourteen rooms. Thralls owned much of the land in the west end of town. The grounds northwest of the house was called Thrall's grove and it was here that they held picnics. This house was torn down about forty years ago.

Another old house is the one used by the Christian Science congregation as a church. The original structure here dates back to the 1840's. This was a hotel at that time run by one VanCamp. It had at one time a high elevation on it and people called it the Shot Tower. Reub Williams who came to Warsaw as a boy in 1849 remembers that this corner was the main part of the village. It was here, he says, that the boys left for the Mexican War in 1847. They were hauled to the nearest railroad town in wagons.

One of the oldest houses in town today is the small house just east of William E. Roger's house on Ft Wayne Street formerly known as Water Street. This house dates back to the 1850's at least. Others like it used to be in this neighborhood but they have been torn down. In several places about town we can see houses made out of old store buildings that were up town years ago, but were moved away to make room for more substantial brick buildings. One is at the northeast corner of Pike and Columbia, another is on North Buffalo, another on Prairie Street at Buffalo, etc.

The old Moon house was being built in 1851. It stood on a knoll where the Murphy Medical Center is now. Ed Moon used to live here in the 1890's. This was a rather large two story structure well made. It was torn down some years ago when Dr. Samuel C. Murphy built the present hospital. This old house had become more or less dilapidated before Murphy took it over. Selden Webber used to live in a large house where the Sears Roebuck Store is now located. It was the old Cosgrove home of the 1860's. After the Webbers were through with it some people ran a boarding house there for a number of years and then it was torn down. The old Cosgrove Meeting House used to be on the north end of this property. West a half a block on Market Street is another large Square two story house that is an old one. It dates back to the Civil War days when Rigdon Wright lived here. Frank McConnell says that when he was a boy in that neighborhood in the early 1870's Wrights were the only people that had silverware. This was considered quite aristocratic seventy-five years ago. Ross Baker and his wife, a grand daughter of Wright, have remodeled this old house so that it looks quite modern.

When we get into the years from 1860 to 70 we can mention several large houses that date to that period. The Bram Funk house where the Senior High School is now was one of them. This was a long two story house with porches above and below. It faced east and the beautiful yard was all terraced. Funk got it from Pottengers in 1850's. It was one of the show houses of the town. It was moved south a block about 1904 when the present high school was built. Finally it was torn down. Perry Jaques had a three story house on East Center Street where Felkners and Mrs. Frazer now live. It was quite low and marshy there in the 1860's so that his house was on an island. This house was a large one of many rooms. The kitchen was in the basement. The basement, however, was about the same as the first floor. Wide steps went up from the south to the next floor. These steps were outside. This house was torn down many years ago. It was there in the 1890's. Jaques became sheriff in 1872-4 and advertised the place for rent. He was the second sheriff to live in the new jail. Jaques was a contractor who built East Center street across the marsh 80 years ago.

The old Frazer house across the marsh on Center Street dates back to 1867. Judge Frazer went from her to Waukegan, Illinois and stayed about four years and returned about 1856. From then on he made his home here. This was for years one of the largest houses of the town and was popular for entertainments. The Frazer girls, Hattie and Jennie, were active in the social life of the town. This plat of ground is peculiar in that it still has a metes and bounds description although it is within the city limits. After the death of Harriet Frazer a few years ago the place was sold and has been remodeled into a very aristocratic home. Several land hungry individuals had their eyes on the place to divide it up into lots but fortunately this was not done. This place was the ideal place for a Kosciusko County Museum for perhaps no other man in the history of Warsaw became so prominent as Judge Frazer. The grounds are very beautiful.

The old J. D. Thayer home dates back to this 1860 period. It was far out of town when it was first built. Scott Street was then the west line of the fairgrounds and the town was creeping slowly eastward from the C. W. & M. tracks after 1870. The Funk house south of the Methodist church is an old timer dating back about to 1860. Funks were among the very first settlers of the town. Michael Funk sponsored the first Methodist church in the village. The abstract to this Funk corner would be very brief for it has changed hands only a few times since 1836. Other houses of this period we would say were the homes of C. W. Chapman, of Herman Lang, of George W. Lightfoot, of Dr. Furlong, Fred Trish, Varnum Card, Silas Chapman, and perhaps the old MacDonald hospital on Indiana Street which was built by Billy Williams about seventy-five years ago. The Baptist church replaced Lightfoots about 1916. A filling station is on the old Chapman site. The Card home remodeled still stands east of the Hays Hotel. This house used to have up and down siding which was considered stylish three quarters of a century ago. We still see a few of these at Leesburg and other places over the county. Such a house is marked as an old timer.

If we raised our period under study another decade we find a good many of our large old houses being built. In the 1870's it seemed to be stylish to build a large house with high ceilings, plenty of porch room, and perhaps a balcony of some kind, the purpose of which the writer has never found out. Such a house was that built by Sam Oldfather on a site opposite south of the present library. This was considered a wonderful house in its day which was about 1872. It was decorated with fine paintings. It had a greenhouse in connection west of the house. Oldfather and Chapman, his neighbor to the west, built a double barn with an archway over the alley. It was the day of fine horses. Here the Oldfathers lived for twenty years or more. They and their son Odie figured quite prominently in society circles of the day. Oldfather ran an elevator and owned several business rooms in town. The C. W. Chapman home just to the west dated back to this period. It had a French mansard roof. And just west of this across the street William Conrad built a fine home in 1874. It still stands. His wagon shops were on this corner but he moved them across the street to the north and built his house. The Conrads were prominent democrats of the town, and belong to the higher social circles which dominated the city for forty years. William Jennings Bryan was entertained in their home when he was speaking once in Winona. Mrs. Conrad was a Saxon and related directly to William McKinley. It would be a long story to tell of all the houses built about this time but the following is a partial list. We would mention Hud Beck's on Fort Wayne Street, McSherry's north of the West Ward school house, Ancil Balls where Robinsons live, Tim Leightons where the printery is on West Market, Doctor Davenports where the library is now, Andy Milice's where James Pfleiderer has lived for several years, Os Funk's where Arnolds live, Eppersons where Holbrooks live, the John N. Runyan home, the Joe Baker home, the Comstock home and perhaps some on Prospect Hill. Lumber was plentiful and carpenter work was much cheaper than now. Brick were made here in the county. Some very fine interior finishing work went into these old houses. With furnaces added, and certain other innovations installed most of them are still in use either as individual homes or cut up as apartments.

The 1880's was a period of substantial growth in Warsaw and we find more large houses being built by those who could afford it. The building of the courthouse here from 1882-84 led to the building of several store buildings and some large homes. The Dr. Bash home was built about this time and a very attractive and expensive stone fence was built around his home. Bash was a young doctor at the time having come here from McCordsville, Indiana, and having married Elizabeth Wallace of west of Leesburg. This house had complete basement rooms for laundry service etc. It faced the south. The furnace was in a separate brick building on the alley and heat went though steam pipes through a tunnel. The Bash home was torn down about 1930 to make room for the present postoffice. The Gibson home was built in the early 80's. It is now the K. P. Home. W. H. Gibson was in the mercantile business here for a decade or more. He had the two rooms in the Moon Block in the 1870's and had moved into Chapman's new block a year or so before his death. After his death the store was closed out and Phillipsons moved to this corner from the room just south of the Lake City Bank. Reub Williams then took this room and the Northern Indianian and Daily Times were published there until about 1930 when the present Times corner was built. The Gibson house ornamented with a tower and other fancy decorations in style at the time was considered one of the show houses of the town. Other houses built about this time were as follows: Phillipsons, Eschbachs, Josh Curtis, Glessners, Burkets, Hosslers on Lake Street, Dan Hardman, peter J. Hardman, Roberts, Ripples, Hessels, and Beyers on High Street. It was during this decade of the 80's that many old frame uptown store buildings were replaced with brick structures which are still in use today. The Haas meat market building across from the public square dates to 1888.

We now reach a date where we no longer have to rely upon newspapers and the testimony of old timers for our information. The period of the 1890s beginning with about 1896 is within the memory of the writer. We shall mention now some of the larger houses that were built in town since 1890. 1890 to 1900 was a period of slow growth, slackened some by a panic called the panic of 1893. It lasted several years. The W. D. Frazer home was built during these years. Frazer was a son of Judge Frazer. His law office was above the old State Bank. The John D. Widaman home was erected in the early 1890's. (1889). He came here in the 70's and married Stella Saine, daughter of Allan Saine, a business man of the Civil War days. Saines lived on the south lot and Mrs Alexander lived on the north lot. She died in 1888. The Ed Graves home was built about this time north of the Christian church. About the end of the century we find the following homes being built. The Royse home on Detroit street, the Mel Williams home a block south, the Dave Peterson home, a house by George Stephenson opposite the old Center Ward school, the Dr. Webber home, one by George McCarter on Indiana Street, one by Bert Shane north of the high school, one by Mayer Richardson which is now the Presbyterian manse, one by Amos Ringle on South Buffalo, one by Wilbur Maish on High Street, one by Gene Coleman on Lake Street, one by Lones, another by Dave Peterson on Center Street perhaps the most imposing of the older houses of the city, another north of it by George A. Snyder, and others perhaps that should be mentioned. The Mel Williams home torn down for a filling station was south of the present Baptist church. It was one of the first to be made of imported pressed brick with the corners in places made of circular brick. A bird box model of the house was on a pole in the yard of Reub Williams a half a block north. The Mel Williams house was considered the finest in town when it was built. It never had the proper setting, however, for a fine home. The yard was too small. And so we bid goodbye to the days before the first World War when it was the custom to erect large houses many of which cause our city today to present a good appearance. it would be difficult to judge just which one today looks the prettiest and the best kept but my choice would be the old Dave Peterson home just west of the U. B. Church. Before Dave built here this was the home of Mother Trish and the old Trish blacksmith shop was just west of the Trish home.

In the last twenty-five years some very fine homes have gone up in Warsaw and on surrounding plats. Clarence Maish was one of the first to erect a really modern home. This is on Scott Street. It is outstanding. Akers built a modern home near the old Beyer Home which We forgot to mention as an oldtimer. Other fine modern homes have been built by Mathias and Sharps on Union Street. Mike Hodges, Gable, Arden Poor, Charlie Ker, Justin Zimmer, and Grimes. Others are being built on plats near town so that the City of Warsaw in the future will appear in a new dress.

Original manuscript, no date.