Burgett and Robbins Law Firm – Ahrens Mansion
15 East Fifth Street
“Site Seeing” An Architectural Sampler, Fenton Historical Society, 1991
(The Fenton Historical Society sponsored a tour of several prominent buildings in Jamestown on August 16, 1991.)
George Ahrens, dealer in coal and oil, built this massive Italian stone mansion in 1898. The structure has been described as “..the most elaborate residence architecturally…” in the city. The design, in the grand classical style, was a trademark of American architect, Richard Morris Hunt. The architecture has been labeled Academic Revival or Beaux-Arts Classicism.
Remarkable features of the exterior include: the tall, paired Ionic columns on the portico which were carved in on piece and transported to this location; fine stained glass in the second story windows at east and west ends; and the ornamentally framed letter “A” over the front door.
The interior decorations of the first floor rooms are representative of a variety of European styles. The main hall’s oak fireplace and cornucopia are of Italian design. The drawing room to the right of the entry has an 18th century French flavor. Both the dining room and the library with beamed ceilings and oak woodwork speak of English manor houses. A game room with stenciled ceiling beams, and a kitchen and pantry are also on the first floor.
One of the most striking features of the interior is the massive Palladian staircase. It is flanked at the bottom by Corinthian pillars on marble bases and the divided landing is illuminated by a large colored glass window.
The house passed from the Ahrens family in the early 1930s. The cost of its maintenance during the Depression made it unacceptable to several city institutions to which it was bequeathed. It became city property in lieu of back taxes and was a center for federal WPA projects.
In 1941 it was purchased by Howard D. and Albert A. Wellman. They restored much of the original decor and Mrs. Alice Levan operated a tearoom on the first floor. The upper rooms were apartments and reception and dressing rooms for special occasions.
In the postwar years the mansion served as the home of the American Legion and more recently it has been occupied by professional offices.
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