History & Tourism

Landmarks Of Mansfield: The Silas M. Douglas House

31 Mar , 2020  

Publisher’s Note: Realizing that many Richland Countians are now working from home or forced to remain there due to self-quarantining or reduced travel, we are sharing stories from our archives, and adding some new ones, over the next few weeks in what we hope will be occasional diversions from coronavirus worries. This post was published by 1812Blockhouse back in June 2017:

This stately home on Park Avenue West was built by a man with a sterling reputation in the community.

His name was Silas Marion Douglas, but around Mansfield he was commonly referred to as “Judge Douglas.” He was born in January, 1853 in Monroe Township, Richland County, and was a graduate of both Heidelberg College in Tiffin and the Cincinnati Law College.

Douglas had followed his older brother Augustus into the legal profession; his brother was a respected Mansfield attorney who was also the Superintendent of Schools in Bellville and Richland County Prosecuting Attorney.

He was also a family man, marrying the former May Weagley and having four children – Stephen, Eleanor, Marion, and Hilary.

As his grave marker in Mansfield Cemetery notes, he served as Chief Justice of the Ohio Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from 1898 to 1904. Douglas was also interested in politics.  In 1918, he was chosen as statewide Chairman of the Central Committee for the Democratic Party, and enjoyed two terms in that role.

A member of First Presbyterian Church, Douglas died on September 16, 1925 in Mansfield.

The house Douglas built at 437 Park Avenue West is a good example of a Queen Anne style residence. Popular during the later years of the 19th century, this style was known for the exuberance of its design and decoration. As building methods had advanced, it was now possible for an architect to jettison standard, boxy plans. Instead there was often, as here, an asymmetrical façade, a dominant front-facing gable, large eaves, and a turret or two.

That is exactly what Douglas chose to build on Mansfield’s avenue of grand homes. Likely dating from the mid 1880s to mid 1890s, the Douglas House still sits proudly on its rise just east of the former YMCA building. It has both a prominent front tower and gable, multiple porches, and exuberant decoration.

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