The stone Carpenter & Ozier Block (later known solely as the Carpenter Block) located at 37 East Fourth Street in downtown Mansfield, is another stop of this weekend’s Secret City Tour. More information on the Tour is available here.

The building was constructed in 1891 and the three story structure has served various roles in its time. It was the site of Mansfield’s first Kroger store, for instance, a landmark in the city’s commercial history. Over the years, it transformed into a hostelry along the original route of the Lincoln Highway, later becoming the Lincoln Restaurant, Dailey Bar, Wooden Pony, and now, the City Grille.

Co-builder Frederick Seldon Ozier was listed as a cigar merchant in the 1900 census. He lived until 1941, finally settling in Los Angeles. His partner was attorney Robert Reid Carpenter, who often went by his middle name, who was one of the organizers of the Ohio Brass Company.

A Versatile Space: From Apartments to Business Operations

The Carpenter & Ozier Block was not just a commercial hub; it was a versatile space designed for community living and business operations. The building featured two floors of apartments above stairs, with a second landing that sometimes housed businesses. The third floor was an architectural marvel, designed as a balconied gallery illuminated by a grand skylight. This allowed sunshine to brighten a central foyer, which doubled as a waiting room. Over the years, this space saw a variety of tenants. 

The first advertisements from the Carpenter Block were for Attorney J.E. LaDow, Insurance Agents L.J. & J.G Bonar, and others. In the 1900s, a doctor set up a practice there, and in the 1910s, a hairdresser offered services to the local community.

The Dream That Almost Was: Mansfield Board of Trade Block

The original builders had grand visions for the Carpenter Block. They intended it to serve as a Mansfield Board of Trade block, with spaces for the organization below and upper spaces filled by labor union and manufacturing management offices. When that was not possible, it was named “The Insurance and Real Estate Block.”

By the 1930s, the Carpenter Block had transformed yet again. All the apartments were occupied by older couples, creating a unique dynamic. The building’s design, which allowed all doors on both floors to open into a common sunny area, fostered a sense of community. 

A Significant Structure On East Fourth Street

The structure echoes the stone façade of the nearby Hancock Dow Building, a few doors up the street, although the Carpenter Block features the familiar pink-toned Mansfield limestone. The large arches on the first floor, and the heavier ornamentation on the upper floors, is also reminiscent of the popular Richardsonian Romanesque architecture of the era. The two, two-story bay windows on the front give it an imposing presence on the street.

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