She’s old, she’s spooky, and she’s got a story!
Have you ever read someone’s life story and felt like it should be a Lifetime TV movie? That’s how I felt while researching this house!
Let’s begin with the landowner before the house was built: Israel J Richardson, who said he was from New York but was more than likely from Pennsylvania. He was an attorney who was friends with other prominent Delaware landowner Milo Pettibone. Fun fact: Milo named Waldo, Ohio after his son of the same name. Milo died in 1842 and just six years later Israel married Estelle Pettibone… Milo’s daughter. At the time Israel was 54 and Estelle was 19. They had three children, Carlisle (who died as a toddler), Isabella, and Margaret. After Israel died in 1870, Estelle eventually moved with her daughter Isabella and son-in-law Walter Dennison to California.
The home itself was likely built by Reverend Orin Henricus(!!) Newton of the Second Presbyterian Church of Delaware and his wife Catherine in 1860 after purchasing the lot (presumably) from Richardson in 1856. The Second Presbyterian Church was an offshoot group formed in around 1841 but went back in 1870. Orin was well known throughout the state as an inspiring speaker and devout man of faith, ministering to Union soldiers during a 6-week “vacation” in 1864. By 1873 he was a chaplain at the Ohio Penitentiary, but a calling to Mount Vernon, Ohio would make Orin, Catherine, and their 7 children sell the home in 1875. He would die there in 1878 at age 56 after suffering “paralysis of the heart.”
In 1875, the home was sold to Henry C. Godman. Yes, the Reverend sold the house to a guy named Godman and for what it’s worth, this guy tried to live up to his name. Henry was a lawyer, businessman, millionaire, and philanthropist, who definitely knew how to make a statement. He only owned the house for 6 years but his story is so bananas I have to share it. At the time he owned the house he and wife Catherine had already lost 2 out of 3 of their children. By the time they sold the property in 1881 they would be completely childless. Henry was already doing well after essentially inheriting his father’s law practice in Marion. He could’ve just retired from law, but he founded the HC Godman Leather Company in Columbus in 1893. Later known as the HC Godman Shoe company, its factories would operate into the 1930s and the Brooks-Godman brand appeared into the 1950s. The shoes they produced were sold all over the country.
The leather goods business moved Henry and Catherine into Columbus proper (they rented their Delaware home to book, music, stationery, and notion store owner Joseph Lindsey before finally selling). Catherine began getting sick and Henry would hire nurse Cora Flora (I am not making this up) to tend to her until she died in 1901. Having no heirs, Henry, 70, filed papers to adopt Cora (widow, mother of 2, and in her late 30s) before deciding to marry her in 1903. As in, they had to ask the courts to get rid of the adoption paperwork in favor of a marriage license. After Henry died in December of 1907, Cora filled out a passport application in 1908 for herself and her daughters promising to return to the US within two years. I spent a little bit of time digging, but I haven’t found the rest of her story. I like to imagine her sipping beverages at a seaside cafe in the south of France.
Back to the house: John Williams and Alice White purchased the home from the Godmans in 1881. He appears to have bought the home for his mother, Anna C. Williams White (daughter of judge Hosea Williams), after their father’s death (coincidentally, I’ve already researched her sister Margaret’s houses here, here, and here). After getting two degrees from Ohio Wesleyan, John received his PhD from Harvard in 1877 and went on to be a professor of Greek at the college, maintaining residency in Cambridge even after retiring in 1909. His work is still recommended as a resource for learning ancient Greek today (check out this list). Even in retirement he continued his passionate studies of Greek, translating Aristophanes until his death in 1917 (another of his published works can be found here). After his mother died he rented the home to the local Phi Gamma Delta chapter before selling it in 1900.
William Allen Hall, wife Lina, and children Edna and John moved to this house from their previous one a literal 5 minute walk away (which is now an auto repair shop). William was an attorney with an office in (on?) Lamb’s Block on the corner of Sandusky and Winter Streets (above what’s now a coffee shop). This space would later house Main Insurance, operated by Wasley B. Main, whose son, Ernest, built my house. William also served as a member of the Carnegie Library Board. He was the oldest member of the Delaware County Bar when he died of a heart attack at age 80.
The house then passed to his son John M Hall (of Tulsa, Oklahoma) until he sold it in 1941.
Stay tuned for more updates!