Attendees at this weekend’s Secret City Tour will have the opportunity to visit several spaces, including the almost 110 year-old Eagles Building on the west side of North Main Street between West Fourth and West Fifth Streets.
The four story brick structure has been a feature on Downtown Mansfield, Inc.’s, tours since they began several years ago, and is an annual favorite. The building was built for a specific purpose by what was then a relatively new civic organization — Aerie 336 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. When it was constructed between 1912 and 1913, the local chapter was only 10 years old but already had over 500 members.
What was built was extraordinary.
The Eagles Building was designed by architect Frank Hursh, a name we have run into before in our Landmarks of Mansfield series. A native of Richland County, he had graduated from what is now Ohio Northern University in Ada and started his local architecture practice about 1900. Hursh’s commissions included the Fraser House (located just east of the entrance to South Park off of Park Avenue West), as well as St. Matthew Lutheran Church.
The cost of the building at 129 North Main Street was $30,000.
What coverage called the “fire proof and up-to-date” Eagles Building measured 32 by 112 feet in size and rose to four stories. The ground floor had general commercial spaces while the second floor held the lodge and club rooms. The fourth floor had a kitchen and dining room.
Initial plans called for a three story building, but this was changed in the planning process. It was dedicated in October, 1913.
The crowning jewel of the structure is the two story-tall dance room, also called the ballroom, on the third floor. It included space for a band and a viewing gallery. The dance hall door featured a peephole that was used to identify members that wished to enter during the days of Prohibition.
By 1915, the building was a community icon. In 1915, for instance, the “Days of 49” celebration featured “One Week of Riot and Fun.” Dancing took place each night
Built in the prevalent commercial style (sometimes called “Chicago Commercial Style” of the first two decades of the 20th century, each of the large two story bricked-in areas on the front facade originally held a two story, divided window that projected out toward North Main Street, crowned by a small open porch. You can view a current Google Maps image below.
The Eagles left their home in 1966, and other uses took up residence there until early 1984.
Sources: Abandoned; Mansfield News Journal; Secret City brochure; The Mansfield News — Photo: 1812Blockhouse