Matamoras Minute: Brick buildings

Photo provided by the estate of Diana McMahan. The oldest brick structure in Matamoras is shown during the beginning stages of its demolition. During the razing charred timbers were uncovered. These were evidence of the great fire in downtown Matamoras on Aug. 17, 1874 during which nine buildings were destroyed.

Continuing the topic of specific buildings of the town will be the first brick building ever constructed in Matamoras. It stood on property across the alley from the present post office where this narrow lane joins Front Street. The house faced the river.

Built in the 1840s by William McGee Ellis, the first stone and brick mason to live in town, the clay for the bricks was dug from the hillsides around the town. And the bricks were baked in huge kilns placed in the middle of Front Street.

Hired for the construction of the house, Ellis worked for John Scott. Later James Sheets, a steamboat captain, and his wife Elizabeth lived there. Eventually it received the title of the “Old Richardson House” when Dr. Samuel Richardson, local druggist, and his wife Sybil, daughter of William Ellis the builder, made it their home for many years.

The house was considered one of the finest homes in town. With its two floors it was viewed as a mansion. The interior dividing walls were built three bricks thick. The home has been replaced by a modern structure.

A second brick structure built nearby by Ellis still stands. This is the first house downriver from the intersection of Front and Main Streets. Presently a yellow painted brick home it was at one time the Huffman Hotel.

Ellis had his roots well established in Grandview Township and built homes below town along what is now Ohio State Route 7. His father, Silas Ellis, was also a mason. His home was in present day Beavertown which at that time was known as Dawes, Ohio. And William’s grandfather was Thomas Dickerson, a Revolutionary War veteran.

Ellis moved to a home on the corner of Third and Vine Streets in Matamoras in 1847. This was one year after the town was platted. There he and his wife, Clarissa Ankrom, reared their six children. He took great interest in the growth of Matamoras, serving three terms as mayor of town.


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