House of stone

LOWELL-Nestled on a hill overlooking the Muskingum River sits a three-story home built in the early 1800s.

The house joined the National Registry of Historic Places on Jan. 11, 1983 and is a local example of a historic site that’s been well-maintained and preserved over the years.

“The Jonathan Sprague House is built out of huge (sandstone) blocks,” said local historian Phillip Crane.

Budd Sprague, of Canton, is a Sprague family historian. He said construction on the house took about three years.

“It was about 1800 that he began the process of building his stone house,” Sprague said. “It took three years to build it. It was completed in 1803, the same year Ohio became a state…The sandstone came from stone quarried on the property.”

The house was built by Jonathan Sprague, a Rhode Island native. He, his father Joshua and brother William worked as carpenters in Rhode Island and moved to Pennsylvania when the Westward movement started.

Sprague said the three were Revolutionary War veterans and it was in Pennsylvania that they learned that Rufus Putnam, founder of Marietta, was putting a group together to travel west.

“They went there with this idea there was going to be a continuous flow of people moving into the Northwest Territory,” Sprague said. “Their purpose was to build boats for the settlers going to the Northwest Territory. They built the (flatboat) that carried Rufus Putnam and his group (to Marietta).”

Sprague said after Putnam arrived in Marietta, he realized there weren’t enough carpenters and builders to “get things going” and build the settlement. Jonathan, Joshua and William made the trek to Marietta in 1788 and built one of the blockhouses at Campus Martius.

Later, Jonathan and his family traversed the Muskingum River and landed in Lowell, what was then Waterford Township.

Crane said the house is spacious and has large fireplaces.

“The interior is very spacious inside and there are walk-in fireplaces,” he said. “It’s just the way you’d expect an old house to be.”

Sprague said the layout of the house has changed somewhat over the years.

“The basement was the kitchen area,” he said, adding that over the years a kitchen and dining area were added on the second story. He said the fireplace there was used for cooking and heating the house.

“The second floor was the main living space and had two bedrooms, which later one of the rooms was converted to a kitchen, and a screened-in side porch was added,” Sprague said.

Current owner Jean Wells, 79, said the kitchen is the only thing that has changed in the home.

“We didn’t want to (change anything else),” Wells said.

He said there were bedrooms on the top floor and fireplaces at each end of the home. One of the chimneys in the upper level has been removed because it had fallen into disrepair.

Wells said the floors, doors and windows are original, right down to the walnut doors inside.

“(The walnut doors have) the cross on the door and the open Bible,” Wells said. She said the wood cam from and was processed at a mill on the property, adding that, “The lumber from this farm helped build the original Blennerhassett Mansion.”

For many years, the house had a porch on it, but it was removed. It has since been rebuilt by the current owners. Sprague said they have brought the home back to its former glory.

“The Wells family have rebuilt the front porch onto the house so the appearance is much more in keeping with the original,” Sprague said. “(They) have done an excellent job in restoring its appearance and keeping it really livable.”