Over the years buildings that were once used as homes have been added to and converted to commercial uses. This seems to be especially true when a home sits on one of a community’s main thoroughfares. This is the story of just such a home that went on to become a longstanding community gathering place.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
Ulrich “Hugh” Rinehart (1823-1887) left his home in Switzerland in late summer 1852 to seek out a new life for himself in America. Ulrich, a stone mason by trade, boarded the ship Gallia in Le Havre, France bound for the Port of New York. The ship arrived in New York harbor the first week of October 1852 and its passengers disembarked and scattered into the American landscape. Ulrich made his way from New York to Ohio, arriving in Tuscarawas County in the mid-1850s where his skills could be put to work in the growing communities there.
After living and working in New Philadelphia for a few years Ulrich met fellow Swiss immigrant, Margaret “Mary” Weber (1838-1917), who arrived in Tuscarawas County in 1859. Within a year of her arrival, and after a brief courtship, Ulrich and Mary were married in September 1859. The couple established their household in New Philadelphia on property valued in 1860 at $600, though the exact location of this property isn’t clear from the available records. Ten years after their marriage the Rinehart family had grown to include four children, all daughters. It was possibly after this growth that Ulrich and Mary determined to find a new home in New Philadelphia.
Ulrich, in the early 1870s, was hired to undertake all of the stone masonry for New Philadelphia’s new Emanuel Lutheran Church on East High Street. The total cost of the construction of the church was around $19,000 and it employed many prominent New Philadelphia craftsmen at the time. It is likely that the payday from this large contract provided the means for Ulrich and Mary Rinehart to acquire city lots 513 and 514. These lots were located on the north side of West High Street at the intersection of West High and, what was then called, Mulberry Street. It was on lot 513, the corner lot, that Ulrich and Mary decided to build their new modest home.
The home they built was a simple story-and-a-half wood frame house, totaling a little less than 1500 total square feet between the first floor and the small second floor space. The home was humble and in the form of a “gable-front family” style of architecture that was common in the rapidly growing, narrow lot communities of the 1870s. It is also possible that the Rinharts added decorative elements to give the home a Greek Revival or Italianate appearance. Changes to the external appearance of the home occurred throughout their ownership, with the most prominent early change being the addition of a front porch that spanned the home’s façade sometime between 1901 and 1910. Despite the many additions and alterations since, the structure and outline of that early home is still clearly visible.
Around the same time that the Rinehart family moved into their home on West High Street, Ulrich began a fifteen-year battle with tuberculosis. Despite his illness the Rinehart family continued to grow and, by 1881, included five daughters and two sons. Ulrich lost his battle with tuberculosis in the fall of 1887 at the age of 64 and his obituary reported that he “was a true Christian, a loving husband and a kind and indulgent father…” and “…was much respected by all who knew him.” The Rinehart family continued, now without the family patriarch, to live in the house on West High as the children grew, worked, and eventually moved on with their own lives.
Ulrich and Mary’s sons, Frank (1871-1924) and James (1875-1961), both worked in the rolling mill in New Philadelphia to help provide for their mother and siblings after their father’s death. Frank went on to work for steel companies in Wheeling, West Virginia and Steubenville, Ohio, and even went to work for a short time in Kobe, Japan instructing workers there on steel making. James worked his entire career at the American Sheet & Tin Plate Company, bought a home on the 500 block of West High, and served three terms on the New Philadelphia City Council. The Rinehart’s youngest daughter Pearl (1881-1977) never married and worked her entire life as a school teacher in New Philadelphia. All of the Rinehart children, with the exception of Frank, made New Philadelphia their home.
After Ulrich’s death Mary Rinehart began to subdivide and sell off portions of lots 513 and 514, while she continued to reside in the home. As her children married and established their own homes, Mary lived in the house with her unmarried daughter Pearl. During the early months of 1917 Mary started to show signs of a stomach illness that left her bedridden at times. She suffered from this illness until, on March 30, 1917, Mary died from what was determined to be stomach cancer. The Rinehart house was sold after Mary’s death and went through a handful of owners before being acquired in the 1950s and converted to its new role as a landmark community gathering place.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.