Property For Sale: A Historic Canal Winchester Home

Michelle Sullivan

Canal Winchester isa product of dissention. The area's first settler, Henry Dove, threatened to sue the state when construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Akron with the Cuyahoga and Ohio rivers and other Pennsylvania canal systems, cut through his wheat field. Instead, in 1828 his son Reuben platted a town, which he named Winchester, just off the canal, midway between Columbus and Lancaster. (In 1841, it became known as Canal Winchester.) Passengers and freight soon began to flow through on the canal, and the town flourished.

New Yorker Sam Bartlit made his way to town via the canal in 1839 and, in 1857, settled in a two-bedroom log cabin that had been built in 1825 and was one of only 12 houses in the village at the time. Bartlit made his fortune developing real estate throughout Central Ohio and operating markets and grain mills. As a state senator, he was instrumental in securing Canal Winchester's annexation to Franklin County and, eventually, its incorporation.

With black walnut harvested from the surrounding acreage, Bartlit added two bedrooms, a grand staircase, living room, kitchen and bathroom to the existing log cabin, which he encased in wood and plaster. That house, pure white flanked with forest-green shutters, still sits at 43 E. Columbus St. in Canal Winchester's historic district and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's said to be the oldest remaining log home in Franklin County, and it's still owned by Bartlit's relatives.

After Bartlit's death, he left the 3,000-square-foot house to his sister, who, in turn, left it to their nephew, David Cowan. Cowan married and had a daughter, Elizabeth, who marriedBland Stradley, former dean of admissions and vice president of Ohio State University and for whom Park-Stradley Hall on campus is named. In 1919, the pair had a daughter, Eliza, who lived in the home her great-granduncle built until her death last year. Eliza married three times but never had children; her beneficiaries are selling the house.

Inside, the Greek Revival-style house enchants. High ceilings, narrow hallways and ornate woodwork are products of a bygone era. In some rooms, creaky wood floors are covered by carpet that was extracted from the old Chittenden Hotel. Barlit's nephews were hoteliers; in 1890, they purchased the Downtown site of the original hotel, which had been destroyed in a fire, and rebuilt it. Closets in the bedrooms open to reveal depth of just a few inches and a handful of hooks for hanging garments. (Deep and wide closets elsewhere in the house compensate for the lost storage space.)

Once you know that half the house began its life as a two-story log cabin, indicative nuances become visible. A subtle ebbing roundness in the front wall of the formal living room hints at the logs underneath. Upstairs, a doorway to the original two bedrooms marks the divide. Other hidden details, like a secret stairway and hallway, allude to the fact that homeowners at one time employed servants. Their quarters now serve as a joint storage space and workshop.

Out back, a bricksmokehousepunctuates the property's four acres. Though it's used only for storage today, it's said that smoky, gamey scents still waft from within on hot summer days, reminiscent of smoked meat that fed one family for well over a century.

43 E. Columbus St., Canal Winchester

Listing price:$289,000

Listing agent:Jackie Groom, ColdwellBankerKing Thompson