One of my mantras is that every building, every place, has a story to tell us if we are willing to look and listen. While the histories of pristinely restored stately homes attract the most attention, the more modest homes that dominate any community have histories as well. The people that lived in those homes are equally worthy of having their stories told. This is the story of one of those homes.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time. The house that occupies Lots 386 today carried various house numbers over its lifetime.
It is difficult from readily accessible records to date definitively when the modest frame house on Lot 386 in New Philadelphia, Ohio was constructed and by whom. The architectural style of the house is that of a very simplified Greek Revival design with a projected gable bay, simple lintels above the windows and doors, and an off-center entrance. Additionally, the porches originally would have had very simple, classical, columns. The Greek Revival style was most popular between 1820 to 1850, but the style lingered in more rural areas of the country. This timeframe fits with the date of construction listed on the Tuscarawas County Auditors website of 1837, though I believe the construction is likely later than that date.
Given the simplicity of the house’s style and floorplan, the house on Lot 386 was likely constructed as a rental property for a more well-off landlord. Further evidence of this can be found when the property was sold by local banker John Hance to New Philadelphia sisters Charlotte and Frances Doll in 1882. The Doll sisters owned other property and lived elsewhere in New Philadelphia. Those listed in census records as early as 1880 for the house on Lot 386 were listed as renters, something that did not change until the 1920s.
It is notoriously difficult to track down the names of all the individuals and families that may have rented the house on Lot 386, but one of the earliest known tenants was Reverend F. William Leich (1871-1935). Reverend Leich, of the local German Reformed Church, lived in the house with his wife and daughter during the 1890s until he left in 1901 to lead a church in Cleveland. Reverend Leich eventually settled in Galion, Ohio where he died in 1935.
The next tenant to rent the home was the man hired to be the new Principal for the Central Public School, George A.B. Wyly (1867-1945). Wyly graduated from Marietta College and, later, Denison College and was often referred to as “Professor” in period records. Wyly had previously taught and administered schools in Johnstown, Ohio where he married and started his family. He began his service as Principal for Central Public School in 1901 and served in the role until 1908 when he moved to Minnesota, divorced his wife, and taught and administered in schools in Duluth, Minnesota.
After Professor Wyly left New Philadelphia, the house on Lot 386 began to be occupied by the family of fallen hero Private Carl C. Stoller. Private Stoller’s father, Christian Stoller, was active in local politics and operated saloons and boarding houses on West High Street and, then later, North Broadway. The Stoller family was renting the house in 1910 and before the 1920 census, had purchased the home. One of Christian Stoller’s daughters, Lillian (1897-1981), was the last Stoller to live in the house. She taught in Hummel Valley, Oldtown Valley and Roswell schools and at New Philadelphia in the West and Front Elementary schools prior to teaching 25 years at Tuscarawas Avenue Elementary School. When she retired in 1961, the library at Tuscarawas Avenue School was named the Lillian Stoller Library in her honor.
The building that currently sits at the intersection of Ray Avenue NW and 2nd Street NW has seen numerous tenants over its long lifetime. It has been “home” to many individuals and it is impossible to know all of the stories that the house can tell. The stories we can tell however, shed more light into what life was like in our community. As I said at the beginning, every building, every place, has a story to tell us and this little house is a wonderful example of the truth of that belief.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.