Former mansion now golf clubhouse
BEVERLY – Nearly 200 years ago Benjamin Dana held wolf hunts on the acreage surrounding his large mansion, known then as “The Cedars.” Today the wolves are gone, but hundreds of golfers roam some of that same property, and The Cedars now serves as a clubhouse for the Lakeside Golf Course along Ohio 60, just south of Beverly.
A grandson of Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam, Dana was born in Pomfret, Conn., in 1770. His family later moved to Vermont where Dana was raised. He came to Washington County in the early 1790s with his cousin, Israel Putnam III.
“They rode all the way here from Vermont on horseback. It’s hard to imagine a journey like that in those days,” said Susanne Burchett, a member of the Lower Muskingum Historical Society, who has done some research on Dana and his mansion.
She said Dana initially did farm work for some of the pioneer families in the Belpre and Newport areas, but was later able to acquire a 100-acre tract of land where he built a cabin on the east side of the Muskingum River in what is now Waterford Township.
“He eventually accumulated about 1,300 acres in that area,” Burchett said. “His industries-trades he learned while growing up in Vermont-were raising sheep and sugar maple trees.”
Built around 1818, Dana’s two-story brick home includes a full basement, huge attic and 12 fireplaces, and would have been a big attraction in its day. Enoch Shepard McIntosh built the house, including the brick, stone and woodwork, taking on the work in 1817 for the grand sum of $2 a day, Burchett said.
“The walls of the main house are about 12- to 15-inches thick, and at one time there was also a six-bedroom wood frame addition on the back side of the house-but it’s no longer there,” said Dave Combs, current manager of the Lakeside Golf Course and Motel.
Dana established a deer park near the house, and had imported several peacocks that roamed throughout the property, according to historian Ray Swick in an article published in an issue of the Washington County Historical Society’s “The Tallow Light.”
Burchett said Dana’s fine home would have been a notable landmark during the early settlement of Washington County.
“It was quite a place. Benjamin named his house The Cedars because he had planted a long double row of tall cedar trees along the north side of the property,” she said.
Benjamin and wife Sarah Shaw Dana lived at The Cedars with six daughters and one son.
Dana held wolf hunts on the grounds, as wolves attacking livestock was a real concern for area farmers, according to Swick who quoted from an 1883 memoir by Major Lewis John Pope Putnam:
“Mr. Benjamin Dana had been giving a premium for live wolves brought to him in traps, and letting them loose for his dogs to catch a number of times; always guaranteeing the bounty in case they got away from his dogs; but they never got away.”
Benjamin Dana died at The Cedars in 1838, and Sarah Dana passed away six years later. Their only son, John Winchester Dana, died in 1849 at age 38, leaving no male heirs to continue associating the Dana name with the property.
One of John Winchester Dana’s daughters married a John Henry Hubbell in 1867, and they had a son, John Dana Hubbell.
“The house had fallen into some disrepair, and he restored the property to its former glory,” Burchett noted. “They often held parties at the house and the list of guests would include a ‘Who’s Who’ of Marietta’s leading citizens.”
John Dana Hubbell, Jr., was the last Hubbell to own The Cedars, and on his death in 1920 the property was sold to Wheeler Keever of Marietta who left it to his daughter, Betty Keever.
Betty married Heber “Chop” Ullman of Beverly who, following World War II, began developing The Cedars property into what is now the 18-hole Lakeside Golf Course and Motel.
“Chop turned the mansion into the golf course clubhouse in 1964. He spent $30,000 on the renovation,” Combs said. “Now the property belongs to Chuck Ungurean from Coshocton who purchased it along with two partners in 1989. But Chuck is the sole owner now.”
Combs said visitors are often surprised to see an original stone sink next to the huge fireplace near the back door of the clubhouse, which is now the main entrance to the facility.
“If Chop hadn’t turned the property into a golf course this building would likely have been totally lost,” he said.
Burchett said she would like to see the historic home eventually listed on the National Register of Historic Places.