Building Blocks: The Anchorage a Marietta fixture since 1859
A glance at the buildings and locations that have shaped the Mid-Ohio Valley
MARIETTA – High on the hill at the end of Putnam Avenue in Harmar, the Anchorage has been an impressive Marietta landmark since 1859.
The large house served a succession of Marietta families for more than a century before being converted into a nursing home.
Today the Italian villa-style home is owned by the Washington County Historical Society, which purchased the home for $1 from Marietta Memorial Hospital.
Douglas Putnam had the home built for his second wife Eliza. Designed by noted local architect John Slocomb, the 22-room mansion is typical of the Italianate style that was popular at the time. Slocomb also designed the Unitarian and Episcopal churches in Marietta, and Henderson Hall in Boaz.
Construction of the home started in the early 1850s. Sandstone quarried from the top of Harmar Hill was used to construct the house. Wood used in the house was locally harvested oak.
The family first celebrated Thanksgiving dinner in the home in 1859.
The house is huge. The main building is two-stories high, 80-feet wide and 68-feet deep.
The four-story belvedere of the home offers a commanding view of Putnam Avenue, the Putnam Bridge and downtown Marietta.
Eliza’s time in the house was short lived. She died of heart disease at 53, in September 1862.
Putnam remarried and continued to live in the home until his death in 1894.
The next year the home, which is believed to have cost Putnam around $65,000 to build, was sold to boat builder Harry Knox for $12,000.
Knox nicknamed the home the Anchorage and could see his boat building business a few blocks away from the top of the home. The driveways and walks in the front of the home formed the shape of an anchor.
The home then passed to the Merydith family who lived in it for six years before it was sold to the Roberts family, who lived there from 1911-1918.
Edward MacTaggart bought the house after that and lived in it until his death in 1952. His sister, Sophia Russell, would be the last person to make the house a home, living there until she died in 1962.
The once grand home would then become part of a nursing home complex. Grand staircases were closed in, an elevator added to the front of the home, and the charm that once ran through the home faded.
The last nursing home resident left the Anchorage in 1986. For years the building sat largely unused and unkept.
The historical society is bringing some life back to the old structure.
“It’s a huge undertaking for an organization,” said society President Bill Reynolds.
A study of the building’s brick, mortar, electrical and plumbing systems will be conducted this year to determine what are the most important projects to tackle.
Last summer the state of Ohio assisted in a replacement of the roof.
“Now it is watertight,” said Reynolds.
The idea now is to focus on the restoration of the front four rooms of the house, “get them really nice so we can rent them out for things like weddings.”
Lack of income from the house has made things move slowly for the organization. A recent partnership with Hidden Marietta has moved the home from being an expense to one that is breaking even, according to Reynolds.
“We need to get it so we can generate some revenue from it,” said Reynolds. “That will allow other projects to take place.”
By the Numbers
* Name: The Anchorage, aka, Putnam Villa.
* Construction started: Early 1850s
* Original owner: Douglas Putnam, local businessman, one of the founders of Marietta College and the grandson of Revolutionary War Gen. Israel Putnam.
* Architect: John Slocomb
* Original size of estate: 9 acres
* Size of main house: 80-by-68
* Office and library: 30-by-19
* Washroom and storeroom: 32×28
* Stable: 28×36
* Cost to build: Around $65,000
* Second Owner: John Knox, who purchased the home in 1896 for $12,000.
* Other owners: Edward MacTaggart, who left the home to his sister Sophia Russell who lived in the home until 1962.
* Other uses for home: The home was part of a nearby nursing home until 1986.
* Current owner: Washington County Historical Society.