The imposing brick house at 234 Park Avenue West once belonged to an imposing coal man.
His name was Charles William Upson. Upson, who was born in Tallmadge in 1855, came to Mansfield shortly after his 1879 graduation from Cornell University. A shrewd businessman, he joined with his brother and formed the Upson Brothers Coal Company. Coal remained his life for some 40 years.
Upson soon married Helen H. “Nellie” Sturges, a granddaughter of early Mansfield settler Eben Perry Sturges. Nellie died just four years later, and nine years after that, he married Caroline McGrew of Cincinnati.
After constructing this house, the Upsons entertained regularly. In 1899, newspapers chronicled a festive event here at which over 100 guests were welcomed to what was called an “elegant home.” The entertainment for the evening was listed as “Pedro” (no more information given), and dancing took place into the evening. A supper was also served. The next decade would see the house often mentioned in local media as a place for card parties, wedding showers, and other social events.
Over a ten year period, however, the Upsons were faced with some difficult family moments. In 1908, their son Fred was one of seven young Mansfielders who were in what was called at the time “the worst automobile accident that has ever occurred in this section of the state.” A touring car, purchased just two months prior and driven by John Bissman, fell down a ten foot embankment south of Shelby. The young people were injured, but all “miraculously escaped death or maiming injuries.”
In 1914, Charles Upson was struck with an illness that rendered his paralyzed. He would remain so until his death in September of 1928.
In the early 1970s, a news story claimed that the house was constructed in 1873, a suspect date given its Queen Anne architectural style, popular in the waning years of the Victorian era. In fact, a Mansfield Weekly News item in its March 10, 1892 edition confirms this by stating, “C.W. Upson is having plans prepared for his new residence, to be built this spring on Park Avenue West, opposite St. Luke’s church.”
The brick house itself features sandstone bands and lintels over the second floor windows. The wide front gable end has four large windows, with decorative elements above; scrollwork appears on the front porch. The porch railing and trim is still intact, and large, corbeled brick chimneys crown the house.
By the 1960s, the Upson house was home to four apartments. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 8, 1983.
Sources: Mansfield Daily Shield, Mansfield News, Mansfield Weekly News