Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


President's House

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Institution Name: Marietta College
Original/Historic Place Name: Wilcox-Mills House
Location on Campus: 301 Fifth St.
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1822original construction Unknown
1840sexpansion; the back wing to a bedroom and kitchen, and projection of the ridge pole at the front and back Unknown
ca. 1855addition of street wall and curved iron railing at the Putnam St. entrance Harte, Rufus Erastus
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone
Walls: brick
Roof: asphalt shingle
1822-1937private residence
1937-present (2007)president's house

Significance: architecture, culture, history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterWilcox-Mills House (1973)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

Built in 1822 by Henry P. Wilcox, Marietta's eighth postmaster, and acquired by 1837 by Col. John Mills, Sr., the President's Home is the oldest building on the Marietta College campus. The side porches and the front portico, which has three asymmetrical, full-height bays, were added to the two-story, gable-roofed, brick building about 1840. The portico entrance has a flat-arched stone lintel with an elliptical fanlight and sidelights. Fanlights crown the doors on the side porches. Col. Mills expanded the house in the 1840's with the back wing for a bedroom and kitchen, and projected the ridge pole at the front and back. In the mid-1850s, Col. Mills added the street wall and the curved iron railing at the Putnam Street entrance, both designed by Rufus E. Harte, architect of Erwin Hall. Although the College had supplied homes for its earlier presidents, it was not until 1937, when the trustees purchased the property with its home and carriage house from the Mills estate, that they provided such an elegant and architecturally defined house. Externally, the president's home today exhibits the alterations made by the Mills family during its century of ownership of the property. It is more difficult to learn the interior modifications made by the Mills family. The College has renovated and remodeled the interior to accommodate the house's residents.

In addition to its importance to the College, the Wilcox-Mills house is also a part of Marietta history. On January 1, 1825, Postmaster Wilcox, having been accused of mail tampering, quietly departed town and left his home and other liabilities to Gov. Return Jonathan Meigs, Jr., a distant relative and benefactor of Wilcox. Col. John Mill, Sr., a local banker and businessman, subsequently acquired the house. Mills was college treasurer (1835-1850) and benefactor of the College; at his death in 1882, his sons inherited the property. John Mills, Jr., and W. W. Mills were graduates of the College as well as trustees and generous benefactors. During the College's 75th anniversary in 1910, President William H. Taft was a guest in the Mills home. Through the years, the tastefully appointed President's Home has played an important role in the social and cultural life of Marietta College.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Beach, Arthur G. A Pioneer College: The Story of Marietta. [Chicago]: Privately printed. [John F. Cuneo Company], 1935.

Koe-Krompecher, Laszlo, and Owen P. Hawley. Wilcox-Mills House [Marietta College]. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1973.

McGrew, Vernon E. In the Various Branches of Useful Knowledge. Marietta, OH: Marietta College, 1994.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices

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