RICHMOND COLUMBIAN PROPERTIES
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History




William G. Scott

The William G. Scott House

This outstanding house built by William G. Scott is owned by Richmond Columbian Properties.

Mr. Scott was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, November 17, 1824. He was a cousin of Andrew Finley Scott whose home still stands at126 North 10th Street, and a cousin of Clem Scott whose home was on 8th above North A; this house is no longer standing.

On June 3, 1847 William married Malinda Gaar, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Gaar. Malinda was 26 and William only 22. They had a child who soon died and the mother in her despondency hanged herself in the stairwell of their home in April 1848. Two years later on March 13, 1850, Mr. Scott married Betsy Matilda Rodgers from Newbury, Vermont. Mr. Scott married a third time in 1864 to Clara A. Robie McCoy after Betsy died in 1862.

The Scotts lived in the second house here until in 1885 construction was started on the current home. On February 14, 1885, the Evening Item carried this notice:

“William G. Scott has perfected the arrangements for his new residence on North 10th Street. Yates and Son, the contractors, did not commence tearing down the old residence last Thursday, as we announced was the intention, on account of the severity of the weather. The proposed new house will be composed of Connecticut brown stone and pressed brick, and will cost $18,000 just as it stands, making it without doubt the finest private residence in the city.”

Dr. Jean Sizemore, PhD, University of Arkansas, wrote in 1990, “This is an unusually sophisticated version of the Queen Anne style interpreted entirely in brick and terra cotta panels with none of the reliance upon ready-made wood jig sawn ornament which characterizes the ordinary frame houses executed in this style. The design exhibited the architect’s awareness of English variations of the Queen Anne. Its outstanding features include two towering Flemish gables which break the simplicity of the tall hipped roof and which carry an intriguing variety of molded decorative terra cotta details in carved panels, voussoirs, cartouches, volutes and foliate spandrels. Its tall, richly elaborated chimneys, paneled and corbeled, are unique in this area.”

The fine red brick said to been imported from England, arrived with each brick wrapped separately in paper to keep it from being marred in shipping. The bricks were laid with a thin “buttered” joint using red mortar. This along with the red slate roof produced a distinctive red house on a heavily rusticated gray limestone base.

The house has woodwork and wall paneling carved in delicate, intricate designs in cherry, walnut, oak and maple. Each room has a fireplace faced with marble and tile. There is a wide central hall on both the first and second floors. The stairway, the beautiful stained glass windows, woodwork, paneling and enclosed marble lavatory in one of the bedrooms upstairs are among the features of the house found most interesting.

Characters from the legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are depicted in marble and tile around one of the upstairs fireplaces, now found in the bar area of the club. The work was by an English artisan, Smythe.

The third floor has three rooms used by servants, along with storage space.

When the new house was built a large matching carriage and horse barn was built of the same red bricks. William G. Scott and his son-in-law, John B. Dougan, who later owned the house, kept well-groomed horses to draw their carriage about town. This barn was torn down for parking and the original cupola was incorporated into and addition built at Barker’s Fireplace Shop.

When Scott died in November 1897 his widow sold the property to their daughter and son-in-law, Helen and John Dougan. At the time of his death Scott’s estate was valued at over $800,000. In today’s market this would be the equivalent of over 20 or 30 million. Mr. Scott had become very important in the successful Gaar, Scott & Co. Later he became the second president of the Second National Bank (now U. S. Bank) after the death of his cousin Andrew F. Scott who had been the first president. John Milton Gaar succeeded Mr. Scott and in 1900 John B. Dougan became the fourth president.

When John B. Dougan died his half-brother Daniel G. Reid obtained the house. Mr. Reid had become a prominent New York financier through his ownership of the American Tin Plate Co. His daughter Rhea, became the owner of the house on the death of her father and she sold the property to the Knights of Columbus in 1921. Rhea had married Henry Topping and their son Daniel Reid Topping, was at that time co-owner of the New York Yankees baseball team. The Knights of Columbus purchased the house in October 1921 for $25,000.

The William G. Scott House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Starr Historic District. The district is and early Victorian neighborhood, perhaps one of the finest remaining in the Midwest. It was an elite residential area of large townhouses and mansions. The dominant architectural styles are Italianate, Second Empire, Greek Revival, and Queen Anne.

The neighborhood was laid out and developed by Charles and Elizabeth Starr after purchasing the land from Jeremiah Cox. The district is an excellent example of of the life and time s of that period. It is a symbol of that era and of the people who organized, operated and dominated Indiana economic life prior to 1900.

 


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