It still sits perched on a rise on the south side of Park Avenue West as the street makes its way westward from the five way intersection. It’s truly hard to miss, as it is a massive structure, clearly designed to make a statement to passersby.
In April of 2018, however, the statement the house is making is more about the precarious situation in which much of Mansfield’s remaining history finds itself. The last several years have seen scores of unique survivors of the city’s nineteenth and early twentieth century past lost to demolition. Fortunately, the Dr. Ecki House joins others on Park Avenue West that hold on valiantly, defying the odds.
Certainly an amazingly beautiful house, 365 Park Avenue West was home to the family of Dr. Simon Peter Ecki and his wife, Dora Elliott Ecki.
Dr. Ecki was born in November of 1854 or 1855. After attending the New York Medical College, a homeopathic school in Manhattan that survives to this day as part of Touro College and University System, he served at both the Flowers Free Surgical Hospital and the Fifth Avenue Hospitals in New York City.
In Mansfield, Ecki was known both for his homeopathic medical practice and his appointment to the Medical Advisory Board, then Surgeon, of the Ohio State Reformatory. While his medical practice flourished, other interests occupied much of the Doctor’s time. With other Mansfield men he was involved in a side business in the western part of the United States – mining. The Nonpareil Mining and Lumber Company was its name, and it produced gains for the investors back in Ohio from Washington State..
Occasionally, this mining activity necessitated Dr. Ecki’s departure from Mansfield. In 1906, for instance, he received the following telegram:
Night Hawk, Wash.
To: Dr. S.P. Ecki, Mansfield, Ohio
Harman very sick. Am worried.
Ecki immediately traveled west where he spent two months tending to Harman, the mine superintendent, and to mine operations (the mine was at that time some 865 feet deep).
In 1906, Dr. Ecki gave up his post at OSR and also his medical practice. Eight years later, the he and his wife sold their Park Avenue West house, although they would eventually return to live in the 600 block of the same street.
Dr. Simon Ecki was known as the first Mansfielder to own and operate an automobile. This, in turn, gave rise to what may well have been the city’s first automobile accident. Driving down Park Avenue West in 1901, a dog named “Fockler” ran out in front of his car. Although the good Doctor tried to miss the canine, it ended up getting “mixed up in one of the wheels.” The car hit ts the curb, bounced off, and then struck a telephone pole. Ecki was thrown out of the car, did a somersault into a nearby lawn, and escaped largely unhurt.
Apparently Fockler survived as well. The dog’s owner was quoted this way in the Mansfield News, “I’ve told Doc several times to run over the dog or smash him with a brick or do something to him, for that beast doesn’t like automobiles and every time one goes past he rushes out. Plague take the dog!”
Park Avenue West gained its large houses in the decades following the Civil War, and particularly after the street railway system made commuting to downtown a practical option. The house at 365 Park Avenue West is an exuberant example of Queen Anne architecture, with its wide gable front and sides. The heavy cornice and brackets, however, suggest that it might date from the late 1880s, which would correspond to the decade after the Eckis’ marriage. A large Palladian window in the front gable looks out over Mansfield’s main street. The interior is breathtaking, even today.
The Dr. Ecki House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Sources: Mansfield News, Wikipedia, Find-a-Grave, History of homeopathy and its institutions in America, Ancestry.com — Photo: Public Domain