The streets of my community are lined with historic homes, churches, and other buildings. While many of them are beautifully restored to their former glory, others show the of signs of time and neglect. All of them though have many stories to tell us; stories of families and businesses long past. On my regular walks through my neighborhood, I often pass a house that I believed must have a story to tell. I was not disappointed.
The Peck family, headed by George Peck (1809-1894), relocated from Connecticut to Clarksfield Township, Huron County, Ohio in the 1840s. The family consisted of George, his wife Emily Andrews (1809-1876), and three sons born between 1833 and 1840. While all of the sons were of the perfect age to serve during the Civil War, and indeed registered for the wartime draft in 1863, there is no evidence that any of them served. The eldest of the sons became a farmer and spent his whole life in Huron County, Ohio. The two younger sons pursued medicine, leading one to Cleveland and the other to New Philadelphia.
The middle son, George H. Peck (1847-1915), was named after his father. According to a biography printed in a 1905 history of homeopathic medicine in America, George attended Oberlin College in the 1860s. George Peck then went on to be one of the first students to attend the short-lived Detroit Homeopathic Medical College. George married Jane M. Wells (1836-1927) of Erie County, Ohio in the spring of 1872 while still attending medical school. Immediately after graduating in 1873, now Dr. George Peck moved to Wooster, Ohio where he briefly worked in the office of a Dr. Warner.
It is unclear what drew Dr. Peck to move to New Philadelphia, but he did so sometime in early 1874. That spring he advertised that patients could obtain his services at his rented office and residence at “22 South Broadway” in the city (roughly the location of the modern Mustards Drive Thru and the Wine Rack). Dr. Peck worked and lived at this location until 1889 when he moved his practice into a second floor office near the Exchange Hotel on High Street. Shortly after he relocated his office, Dr. Peck and his wife purchased the west side of a two-home brick structure (No. 145/143, Lot 290) on the northside of the first block of East Fair Street (modern Fair Avenue, NE).
The dwelling at 145/143 East Fair Street was likely built sometime in the 1850s as the City of New Philadelphia’s population was expanding. The original, and previous, owners of the home are outside the scope of this story but the house may have originally been constructed as a rental property for its original owner/builder. Census records indicate that most of the occupants of No. 143 East Fair rented that side of the structure during the time when Dr. Peck owned No. 145. There is no evidence that Dr. Peck, at any time, owned more than the west side of the property.
An examination of Sanborn Fire Insurance maps between the years 1887 to 1914 speak to the appearance of the house during the time that Dr. Peck and his wife lived there. The main part of the house was a two story brick duplex structure with each side measuring 28 feet by 22 feet. There was also a wood-frame porch, now removed, that stretched across the entire façade of the brick home. Additions to the two homes were found on the north-side of the house as well, adding to their living space. The past additions on the west side (Peck side) match the addition seen on the house today. Meanwhile, the additions on the east side of the home have been removed, but the ghosts of them can be seen on the brickwork.
Eventually Dr. Peck moved his office to the first block of North Broadway, a short walk from his home on East Fair. In addition to his own private practice, at the beginning of the 20th century Dr. Peck served for over a decade as the City of New Philadelphia’s Health Officer. Among his duties in that role he worked to address concerns over the health effects of the city’s sewer systems, educating the public about the dangers of different contagions, keeping statistics on deaths in the city caused by various diseases, and communicating with other communities’ health officers about potential dangers.
Dr. George Peck died in November 1915; his death was attributed to a history of heart disorders. His widow, Mrs. Jane Peck, continued to live in the house until her death in the spring of 1926. Mr. and Mrs. Peck had no children and, following Mrs. Peck’s death, the house was placed on the auction block the following year. Now when I walk past this house on my regular strolls through town, I know a little more about this house’s history and so do you.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.