Henry Reeder/Nathaniel Lincoln House
Centerville and Washington Township are notable for their many limestone structures and in the past we have written about several of them in the historic district, but did you know that Lot 21 of the Benjamin Robbins plat contains a very old stone building and an early brick building as well? These buildings are located at 27 West Franklin Street, on the north side not far from the corner.
Montgomery County records show that in 1826 Benjamin Robbins sold Lot 21 to Joseph Fisk, who had married his daughter, Mary Robbins. Joseph paid about $175 at a time when lots were selling for $40, so we have reason to think that some structures were included with the lot.
Our Landmark files tell us that the small limestone building was probably built first, as during the time from 1806 until about 1840, the pioneers had learned to utilize this abundant natural resource and most of the stone buildings were being constructed. The building is small, only 12 X 14 in size, and is partially covered with stucco. Inside are hand hewn beams, just one window and the door. It may have been used as a summer kitchen or a workshop.
The records indicate the two-story brick building was probably built in the 1830’s, as the tax values more than doubled by 1835 when it was recorded at $500. In the year 1831, Joseph Fisk had sold the lot and buildings to Henry Reeder. Henry was a blacksmith and lived there from 1831 until 1873. The building is characterized by Flemish bond brickwork. The internet tells us that bricks are laid to expose the ends (header bricks) or sides (stretchers bricks). The way in which they overlay is called the “bond”. In Flemish bond the bricks are laid with headers used on every other brick in alternating rows called “courses”. This method produces a very strong and durable structure. Originally the front of the building, facing on West Franklin, had three windows above and just two below, with a door centered in the middle. The side entrance, front and back porches, were added later. The building can still boast original woodwork and two fireplaces, one upstairs and one by the entrance.
Longtime residents of our area sometimes refer to 27 W. Franklin as “the Lincoln building”, because for 54 years it was owned by Nathan Lincoln and later his wife, Elmira . Nathan was a cousin of Abraham Lincoln, and a man of many skills. The 1850 census listed Nathan’s occupation as carriage maker, the 1860 census indicates he was a wagon maker, and just 10 years later he is listed as an undertaker. Nathan had moved his family to Centerville from Ridgeville in the mid 1800’s and in 1874 they purchased the house. During the Civil War he and Elmira saw two sons march away from the home to join the Union forces. In an interview with Elmira written about 1917, she comments that her son, George, “passed away in the south from a fever”. The other son, William joined the 179th Ohio Volunteer
Regiment and served more than a year. In 1889, Nathan Lincoln died, but Elmira continued to live in the house until just before her death in 1920.
Although Centerville has had many changes since the Lincoln’s lived here and the old brick building has had a variety of merchants breathing new life into it, 27 West Franklin continues to be an important part of our historic district.
By Ferne Reilich, Curator
The Curator, June 2008