All Things Business, History & Tourism

Landmarks Of Mansfield: The Finley Block

27 Aug , 2018  

The three story brick building currently being renovated in downtown Mansfield bears the name of its original owner and builder.

Dr. Mary Jordan Finley was a person of great note, not only for being a female physician at a time when such was relatively uncommon, but also based on her contributions to the community in which she lived.

Photo taken on Sunday, August 26.

Born in 1849 in Philadelphia, Finley practiced medicine in Mansfield for many years, quite possibly the first woman to do so. Her first office was in the Sherman House Hotel at the southwest corner of Fourth and Diamond. A 1900 Mansfield News advertisement stated that she was a “Specialist in the Diseases of Women.”

Shortly after constructing this her block in the late 1890s, Finley took her practice to Mexico. About 1909, she contracted a fever there which led to her death in Philadelphia on December 17, 1912. In her obituary, the Mansfield News noted that many of Finley’s letters, particularly those from her time in Central America, were published in its pages. Her body was returned to Mansfield for burial.

The original ground floor tenant on the east side of the Finley Block was druggist William Dice. In the next 100 years, the building would house Isaly’s, an optician’s office, an embalming and undertaking parlor, and headquarters for the “Broadway Theatre League.”

Finley Block shortly after construction

The work to transform the building at 46 Park Avenue West is well under way this summer, with substantial interior work taking place and with replacement first floor storefronts removed.

Dating from the 1890s, the building once had two commercial spaces on the ground floor with apartments on the two floors above. After many years of vacancy, the plan by owner Carrousel Properties, LLC is to provide a home to residents in four separate apartments with small businesses renting the first floor.

The total estimated price for renovation is $1,100,000. Work is being accomplished in part by an Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit worth $249,900. This credit was awarded in late 2017 together with the house at the corner of Fifth and Walnut – a project we hope to be updating soon.

The design of the Finley Block is a somewhat typical one for its period, hearkening to the commercial blocks being built across the Midwest – sometimes called the “Chicago” or “Commercial” style of architecture. The upper floors of the façade feature brick ornamentation. Five semicircular-arched windows are on the second floor, each retaining what appears to be original fanned wood decoration. Small foliage designs are on the capitals which top columns between each window, and rows of decorative brick banding crown the building.

Sources: Ancestry.com, FindaGrave, Mansfield News, Ohio Historic Preservation Office

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