The imposing, three story Hancock and Dow Building was constructed in 1887 at 21 East Fourth Street.
The building bears the name of a stone masonry contracting business that stood at the forefront of such firms in north central Ohio in the latter half of the 19th century. It was a partnership established by two enterprising Mansfielders, Robert Greenway Hancock and William Dow, both of whom were immigrants from the British Isles almost twenty years earlier.
The firm is likely best known for being the stone masons for the Ohio State Reformatory. In addition to that project, they were responsible for the Bissman Building on North Main Street, as well as several churches in Mansfield and public buildings in places like Marysville and Marion.
The Hancock and Dow Building has had a variety of businesses and uses over its lifetime. Those include a short stay by the Elks Club, as well as retailers the Boston Store and the Lantz Dry Goods Store, Mansfield’s largest retailer from 1890 to 1914. As an outstanding example of stonework by a firm at the top of that field, it was placed on the National Reigser of Historic Places in 1987.
English-born and trained Robert Greenway Hancock and his wife, Anna Scutts, had nine children and were actively involved in the community. Shotly before his death in 1909, the couple had a harrowing moment. Accustomed to vacationing in California during the winter, the Hancocks were in San Fransicso at the time of the great earthquake. According to one obituary, they “…had exciting experiences in escaping from his hotel to a place of safety.”
William Dow was born in 1846 in Scotland, and came to the US in 1869. He married Lisetta Loudermilch and had 3 children. The Dows’ family home was the incredible Dow House, built in 1896-8 for $14,000, which is still standing at 564 Park Avenue West. The basement of that structure has 21 inch sandstone walls.