There is house that sits unoccupied on a lonely corner of Ray Avenue NW in New Philadelphia, Ohio. The broken and boarded-up windows, damaged siding, and overgrown yard belies a history of ownership by a historic and prominent New Philadelphia family.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
The Strine family got their start in Tuscarawas County with the arrival from Switzerland of Frederick Arnold Streun (1835-1916) around 1860. Shortly after his arrival, Arnold (he went by that name rather than Frederick) signed up to serve in the Union Army. He enlisted as a private in Company I, 107th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment in August 1862 and served for the duration of the the war. Arnold was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 and suffered, off and on, from the wound for the rest of his life.
After his return to New Philadelphia from his service Arnold found work as a stone mason and, in 1869, he married fellow Swiss immigrant Mary Schwab (1841-1916). Arnold and Mary Strine (the last name appears as both Streun and Strine) purchased a home on the 600 block of West Ray Street where they raised a large family. The children all attended school in New Philadelphia in the latter quarter of the 19th century and, when finished, they worked in a variety of occupations. One of their sons, Frederick A. Strine (1872-1955), married Emma Kuhn (1875-1963) in 1898 and started a broom making business in partnership with another businessman.
Frederick Strine’s broom making business was in partnership with William D. Grunder (1864-1930) and they established their broom factory on an alley between, what was then, North 7th and North 8th Streets just above West Ray Street. The establishment of the factory in that part of town, and the success of the business in general, necessitated a move from the Strine’s original home on South Broadway to something closer to the business and more representative of his success. Frederick A. Strine, in July 1905, purchased a vacant portion of Lot 408 on West Ray Street from John F. Congleton (1862-1940).
Frederick and Emma welcomed their only child, a daughter named Marian Dorothy (1905-2008), shortly after beginning construction of their home on West Ray Street. The house was constructed in a style referred to as Colonial Revival and was a typical example of a popular version of that style; a hipped roof with a full-width porch. The house was about 2000 square feet, had three rooms and a reception room downstairs with hardwood floors, four bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, and a completely finished attic. It boasted the gable roofed dormer windows and a columned front porch with a pediment above it typical of the style.
Whether Frederick and Emma planned to fill the four bedrooms with more children is unknown, but they had no more children after the birth of their daughter. Regardless, as Frederick Strine rose in status in the community the home became a meeting place for civic, religious, and social gatherings. Marian Dorothy’s birthday parties at the home often made the newspaper’s social section as the family hosted many fine young ladies from the local community. Meanwhile, Frederick Strine expanded into other commercial endeavors among which was a grocery store on West High Street.
The small Strine family continued to live in the house on West Ray Street as Marian went on to attend Oberlin College and then returned home to New Philadelphia to work as a teacher. Marian married Dover dentist Brinley L. Lewis (1901-1989) in the 1930s and she then moved in with her husband in Dover. Frederick A. Strine died in November 1955 and, as Emma went to live with her daughter and son-in-law, the house on West Ray Street was put up for sale. The asking price at the time was $15,000, the equivalent of approximately $160,000 today. Emma Strine outlived her husband by eight years, dying in December 1963. Frederick and Emma are buried at Evergreen Cemetery in New Philadelphia and Marian is buried at Maple Grove Cemetery in Dover.
Today the Strine house on Ray Avenue NW sits empty, several ominous city notices taped to the front door. While the house is quiet and dark now, when the Strine family lived there the house entertained friends and family from throughout the community. If you walk past the house today, be sure to close your eyes and imagine the sounds of birthday parties and social gatherings that once emanated from its hardwood floored rooms. Perhaps someday those sounds will return.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.