There’s a restoration project underway at a historic home in Wellston, Ohio. The owners have moved mountains bringing this gorgeous old house back from the brink. I got to see inside yesterday as they have been opening it for tours during the holidays.
A man named Charles Haslett had the home built and his family moved in around Christmas in 1909. The home cost about $8,000 to build – well over a million dollars in modern money.
The property was originally an 800 acre farm. Tunnels were built from the home to the barns and one still exists. A small ballroom graces the third floor and all of the rooms have large windows and beautiful woodwork.
Haslett was a local politician and the youngest person to ever be Jackson County Commissioner. He ran for state office, operated a highly successful dairy, owned coal mines and had a number of other business interests. To say he was a hard worker is an understatement.
Here’s the entrance to the tunnel that runs from the home to the carriage house. Imagine being able to get from the house to the carriage without going into the cold!
As part of the tour, they sat our group of 47 participants in the newly restored carriage house, fed us refreshments and told us stories. We learned about the house, the Haslett family and the restoration. We also saw pictures and learned about the golden age of mining in Wellston and nearby Coalton.
In case you don’t know, Wellston was home to one of the finest veins of coal you’ll find anywhere. There was great wealth there and abundant opportunities to be entertained, to shop and to drink.
Mr. Haslett operated a race track very close to his home, a popular destination for harness racing enthusiasts from far and wide. When he grew tired of operating the track, he donated the land to create permanent county fairgrounds.
Countless people have benefited from his generosity and business acumen, particularly the generations of kids who have been involved in 4H.
One of Mr Haslett’s daughters inherited the home after his death by suicide in 1939. She eventually sold everything by auction before the property changed hands a number of times.
The home was vacant for a decade or more, left vulnerable to vandals, homeless people and drug deals. At one point, someone pulled up with a truck and carried out doors, stained glass windows and other architectural pieces. They even used chainsaws to remove priceless pocket doors.
I was indignant at the very idea.
The new owners have done beautiful work breathing new life into the place when many others might have jumped ship. They shared pre-renovation pictures and it’s practically unrecognizable. The floors are especially gorgeous.
I really liked the areas with personal touches, things that belonged to the original owners.
It’s so well done, especially given that this is a family working together rather than an organization that might have more volunteers or access to grant funding. Our tour guide was the owners’ daughters. She’s a local teacher who has been doing the research into the home, property and the place in this world occupied by Mr Haslett and his family. She has clearly done her homework and gave a fun tour.
She said they will have more work done in time for the Christmas tour next year. I will absolutely go back. Admission was free but they were accepting donations for the Wellston High School Band.
I’ll share a few more pictures in the Make the Journey Fun Facebook page so be sure to check over there for more.