MEDINA, Ohio — Ever since the Medina County Historical Society finalized the purchase of the McDowell-Phillips House in December 2019, the historic homestead has been a hotbed of repairs and restoration.
The iconic 14-room Queen Anne house, built in 1890, is located at 205 S. Prospect St. in Medina. It is easily recognizable for its turret and deep front porch at the spot where West Washington Street dead-ends into Prospect.
During the past eight months, despite the disruption of COVID-19, the historical society has financed and arranged for extensive exterior work. So far, damaged shingles have been replaced and the house has been painted.
The original slate roof was repaired after minimal damage sustained in Medina’s tornado in April. The two porch roofs were replaced with shingles donated by Owen-Corning. New gutters and downspouts were installed to address water issues, such as rotten window sills and dampness in the basement.
In the past month, 170 feet of uneven and broken sandstone sidewalk across the front of the property was replaced with concrete to remove tripping hazards. Some sandstone pieces were moved to other walks where they could be safely installed; others were stored elsewhere on the property to use in future projects.
With an Adopt a Tree program and with the help of Beth Schnabel of the Medina County Soil and Water Conservation District and a group of volunteers, 30 blue juniper trees were planted along the borders of the 1-acre property. A row of redbud trees will be planted in the spring.
Schnabel also returned to help transplant peonies to a new flowerbed alongside the restored barn.
As the new trees were being planted, three old, dead or dying 150-year-old trees had to be removed. One mulberry, one maple and one ash tree were taken down and cut into firewood lengths.
While the exterior work was progressing, Paul Wood performed his magic in the upstairs turret bedroom. With 13 angles and planes, the room was a wallpaper hanger’s nightmare, but volunteer Wood made it look beautiful.
The home’s original set of bedroom furniture has been placed in the room, along with dressers from the same period recently donated by the Waite family.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, air conditioning is being installed in the house, primarily to maintain proper humidity levels to preserve the furnishings and artifacts. While those workmen are installing discreet air conditioning ducts in the ceilings, a new security system is also being installed.
Although the Phillips family left most of the original furniture in the house when they moved, some pieces need to be replaced. The historical society rarely finds it necessary to purchase furniture — most pieces are donated by generous local families.
Recent donations of chairs by Patty and Jim Chapman and by Jean and Ted Gulyas will provide seating for guests at future events in the house. The Chapmans brought two velvet-covered Victorian occasional chairs and a rocker, while the Gulyas family added six caned chairs that had been purchased by Jean’s family in 1893.
Other recent donations came from Nancy and Linn Mast. The Masts brought a large framed picture of a hot air balloon rising from the foundation of the future Medina Hospital in the late 1980s. Dr. Linn Mast, chief of staff of the hospital at that time, was a passenger in the balloon when it rose.
Letters attached to the side of the balloon were to have read “MEDINA COMMUNITY HOSPITAL — On the Rise.” Unfortunately, two of the letters were transposed and the word “Hopsital” appeared. Someone in the audience noticed the misspelling and the balloon was lowered to make a quick correction.
The Masts also donated a slate from the roof of the original hospital building, which had been painted with a picture of the house that originally served as the hospital.
The John Smart House museum on North Elmwood Street is still very much an integral part of the historical society’s mission. Outdoor lighting has been installed in memory of Larry Prebis and his 40 years of service to the society.
The historical society cannot accept all donations of artifacts for lack of space, but is still in need of monetary donations to complete the restoration of the McDowell-Phillips House and to maintain both homes.
The Adopt a Tree program asks for a donation of $100 per tree, but any amount is welcomed. Donations should be sent to the Medina County Historical Society, 206 N. Elmwood, Medina, 44256.
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