There are many houses that get swallowed up by future construction and changes in how a property is used. I only recently learned that this building on the corner of Fair Avenue and Broadway has, at its core, a home built by a 19th century New Philadelphia merchant.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
The Hay family immigrated from County Derry in Ireland around 1812, or shortly after, when John Hay (1769-1841) and his wife Elizabeth Huston (1779-1834) brought their eight children to America. The family originally settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania before migrating into Coshocton County, Ohio before John’s death there in 1841. The Hay sons were an industrious bunch and became very active in business and industry in Coshocton in the 1840s. Among those energetic sons was Henry Hay (1808-1897) who took advantage of the canal traffic and established a grain and mercantile warehouse in town.
Henry’s business likely required him to travel to other communities and, over the course of those travels, he found himself occasionally in Wayne County, Ohio. There he met Sarah Spencer (1818-1872) and the two eventually married in a ceremony in Wayne County in the fall of 1843. The couple settled in Coshocton for the next 15 years as Henry built his business and they grew their family to include five children by 1858; four daughters and a son. We do not know why but, that year, Henry determined to relocate his business interests and family to the prosperous New Philadelphia area.
Henry and a partner opened up a mercantile shop on the busy Public Square and began taking out advertisements in the local newspapers promoting the business. Eventually the partnership dissolved and, by 1870, Henry was operating the Public Square shop on his own. It was also during this time period that Henry and Sarah Hay acquired the property on the west side of Broadway at the intersection of Broadway and Fair. During the spring of 1872, and shortly after the family moved into the home, Sarah became ill and two months later passed away at the age of 53.
There is very little exterior evidence of what the Hay house looked like when the Hay family was living in the home from the late 1860 until it left the family in 1917. One hint of the style of the home can be found in the fact that an image of the home taken in the 1930s shows the hipped roof that is also visible in modern aerial views of the property. The most dominant style of home with a hipped roof built during the period the Hay house is the Italianate style, a style that was very popular in New Philadelphia in general. Later fire insurance maps also show other details of the house, including that the house did not have a front porch, that it had cornice around the eaves, a slate roof, and a large summer kitchen off the back of the property. All of those exterior details are now gone, absorbed into the current existing structure.
Henry and five of his children all continued to reside in the home on Broadway after the death of Sarah in 1872 until they married and established homes of their own. Henry’s eldest daughter Elizabeth (1845-1917) remained unmarried and became the de facto lady of the house while his eldest son Robert (1849-1919), also unmarried, continued to live in the home as well. There were also times when relatives from the family in Coshocton would make their residence at Henry Hay’s home in New Philadelphia as well. Henry eventually retired from the merchant trade, selling off his businesses in 1878 and living the quiet life while being taken care of by his eldest daughter.
Henry Hay was in the 89th year of his life when, in October 1897, his health started to fail him. After five weeks of illness, and surrounded by his immediate and extended family in the house on Broadway, Henry Hay died on November 14, 1897 and was buried next to Sarah in the Fair Street Cemetery. His daughter Elizbeth continued to live in the home until her death in 1917, after which the house and out-buildings were sold to the publisher of the New Philadelphia Daily Press and the property started its new life as a commercial center.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.