It is altogether fitting that the house at 544 Park Avenue West is painted in several hues. After all, in its day the house was home to a man whose business regularly dealt with colorful things.
Robert Sandiford was known in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a a master florist and horticulturalist. A native of London, England, Sandiford lived in both Canada and Cleveland before reaching Mansfield about 1870.
His early years as a florist were nothing short of amazing. He was gardener for and lifeline friend of Lord Joseph Lister, internationally renowned British surgeon and a pioneer of antiseptic surgery (more about Lister can be found in this Wikipedia article). In his Mansfield work, he largely dealt with the hybridization and cultivation of specific varieties, producing the first sold white pelargonium anywhere – known as the “Mrs. Robert Sandiford.” Bessie Sandiford was also a native of England.
Sandiford was certainly well-connected. Not long before his death, he needed to facilitate a passport so that his niece could come to America to provide in-house nursing care. Skipping the consulate, he wrote directly to no less of a person than Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who answered him and arranged the matter. He died on December 29, 1920 in this house, having been ill for some 17 days. His funeral was also conducted at the residence, led by the then Rector of Grace Episcopal Church.
544 Park Avenue West has seen less removal of historic features than many period houses on the street, and retains much of its original look. Built in the Queen Anne style, it is not terribly large however it showcases much of the exuberance of that type of architecture. A front dormer with turreted top is echoed in a projecting bay window in the main gable facing Park Avenue West. The second floor also has a bay window with a semicircular topped upper sash.
The Robert Sandiford House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 8, 1983.
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