MARIETTA - When Roger and Penny Hall purchased the Return Jonathan Meigs Jr. Home on Front Street in Marietta nearly a decade ago, they weren't thinking of it as a place to live.
Built in 1802 as the home of Meigs- the city's first postmaster, Ohio's fourth governor, a chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court and the United States postmaster general from 1814 to 1823- the structure had been an office building for more than 30 years.
The Halls bought it with the plan to continue in that vein, but as they worked on the building, their minds began to change.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Roger Hall discusses the mantel he uncovered while restoring the historic home of Return Jonathan Meigs Jr., a former Ohio governor and U.S. postmaster. Hall and his wife have lived in the home for the last six years.
"I said, 'We couldn't use this as commercial property. It's got to be a residence,'" Roger Hall said.
After nearly four years of work and approximately half a million dollars later, it became the Halls' home. Six years later, they're saying goodbye to the house- and to Marietta- and moving on to the next phase in their lives. They'll start in South Carolina, wrapping up business with some rental properties they have there.
"The ultimate place we're going to land is Hawaii," Hall said, noting the couple has vacationed there in recent years.
Built in 1802 by Return Jonathan Meigs Jr., Marietta's first postmaster.
Meigs served as Ohio's fourth governor, from 1810 to 1814.
He was postmaster general of the United States from 1814 to 1823.
His father, Col. Return Jonathan Meigs Sr., was one of the original 48 settlers in Marietta.
Source: Marietta Times research.
The Halls are traveling light when they leave town, offering just about everything in the house in a tag sale that starts at 8 a.m. today and continues Friday and Saturday.
The house has been purchased by local realtor Karen Strahler for about $540,000. Like the Halls, she will keep it as a residence, with its spacious chambers providing plenty of room for visits from her six children and eight grandchildren.
Strahler said she wasn't sure what she was looking for in her new residence but figured she would know when she saw it.
"I walked through the door, and I knew this was it," she said.
She almost didn't go, remembering the house as it had been in its office phase, but her daughter, fellow realtor Traci Strahler- Chichester, told her to give it a chance.
"So I went, and the rest is history," Strahler said.
When the Halls bought the house, it had been used as a doctor's office among other things. The large, first-floor room they refer to as the "ballroom" had been divided into five exam rooms, including one where surgeries could be performed.
Breaking down the barriers between the rooms, Hall eventually discovered artifacts from the original home like a pair of columns and a fireplace mantel built in the 1700s in Maryland.
"It came in covered wagon to Marietta for this house," he said.
At one time, Hall considered replacing the cracked stone hearth in front of that fireplace.
"But then I thought, 'Return Jonathan Meigs actually walked there. His wife and his daughter cozied up to the fire there,'" he said.
According to "A Window to Marietta," a publication outlining notable structures in the city, a portico, balcony and wrought-iron fence were added to the house after Judge M.D. Follett purchased it in 1854. In 1916-17, his son raised the house about six feet and moved it back and north to center it on the property frontage. He added rooms on the back and a side porch.
Hall said if a person didn't know which areas were added when, they'd be hard-pressed to pick out which portions of the house weren't original.
"Whoever did any additions or any work on this house did it right," he said. "This thing is so well integrated that you really would not know that it's been added to."
Doug Hines, owner of Circa at the Elms in Belpre, helped the Halls furnish the house, including using period-correct colors to paint the inside.
"It was a complete pleasure to bring something back to life, such a gem in the city, and to even uncover an 1802 floor and preserve it" in a second-floor bedroom, he said.