Imagine waiting 10 years to move into your dream home. Day by day watching it slowly being built from a distance, saying to yourself that one day you will be calling this beautiful mansion your home - only to move in and die three years later.
After waiting ten years for their home to be built, Eliza Putnam, the second wife to Douglas Putnam, passed away in 1862 from heart disease in the very home that her husband built for her. The funeral was even held at the mansion in the formal room.
Douglas Putnam was a successful investor and entrepreneur in the years prior to the civil war. Douglas became known as a real estate banking and railroad man of power after making some very smart investment moves that put him at the top of his business class.
Douglas was the great-grandson of General Israel Putnam. Douglas' brother, David Putman Jr., was the leading abolitionist in Marietta, Ohio.
Abolitionist was a movement that sought to end immediate slavery in the United States. David was said to visit the home quite often, which led to the belief that the home was used as a part of an underground railroad system. But there was not enough evidence to prove this case.
The underground railroad, if you didn't know was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States, during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans, primarily to escape into free states and Canada.
In 1849, the Putnam's began the construction on their home on Putnam Avenue. It was to be called Putnam's Palace and was modeled after Eliza's dream home. A home based on a Tuscan villa style that mainly appeared in the New England region.
The mansion was to be built at a cost of $65,000 which in today's dollar is equivalent to $1.7 million dollars. This beautiful mansion had 22 rooms along with a grand tower. The massive walls were made from 24 inch thick sandstone that was taken from around the area.
The rooms had elaborate 12-foot ceilings with beautifully handcrafted wooden moldings and a marble fireplace that would show off the luxurious life that the Putnam's were lucky enough to live. The tall windows would allow the natural light to shine through showing off the Victorian era furniture they had, along with very expensive oriental rugs. The Putnam's dream home was supposed to take five years to complete, but the construction was prolonged with complications that would be caused by the civil war. (Yes the Civil War was from 1861-1865, but from what I gathered it was probably the tension leading up to "actual" war.)
While this was happening, Eliza went into a depressive state due to the delays in construction. Then in 1859, after 10 long years of waiting, the Putnam's dream home was finally completed.
After three years of living in their home, Eliza became very ill and died abruptly with a case of acute heart disease. After the death of his wife, Douglas could not stand living in the mansion alone, as this was Eliza's dream home. Being in the home was too much to bare. So Douglas moved out and in 1894 he sold the home to the highest bidder for $12,000.
The highest bidder was Harry Knox. As soon as the home was bought, the Knox family redesigned the original driveway to appear as an anchor. The Knox family was heavily involved in boat building. They wanted this massive property to reflect their lives. The home overlooked the city of Marietta and they could see their boating business down below. At this point they renamed their home the "Anchorage Mansion."
Through the years, many people had taken residency at this mansion. In 1960, a nursing home was established in the home and it utilized the mansion itself to house patients. At that time, they altered the name to "Christian Anchorage." The nursing home renovated the mansion to fit their needs and care of their patients along with modifying the grand staircase. They would incorporate rubber tile steps, to decrease the threats of patients slipping and falling down the stairs.
They also installed an elevator, which today is closed and blocked off. The transition of the third floor still remains a mystery to this day. There are large rooms with lower ceilings, barely tall enough to stand or even crouch under. Today, this part of the home is blocked off and it is unknown what the purpose of this area was used for. There has not been any documented proof to indicate what it was used for and why it was built. Maybe storage of maybe an area for the children.
By 1986, the nursing home fell into disrepair without appropriate funding. The mansion sat abandoned for a while, and then was donated for $1 dollar to the Washington County Historical Society in 1996.
Later, the Historical Society turned over ownership to the Hidden Marietta. This nonprofit organization has made much progress in restoring the home room-by-room back to the original condition.
The nonprofit organization is taking donations and are looking for good contractors to help volunteer to get this place back to the original condition and style. Walking around and exploring this four-story mansion, really takes you back to the 1800's. Only being able to explore two of the four floors, you could still see the craftsmanship in this home and admire the work that was done by hand.
Seeing a home like this makes you realize that the homes of today are just not built with this type of passion. From the custom plaster crown moldings, the hand-drawn plaster designs on the ceilings to the handcrafted wood floors and trim throughout the house.
4. WCHS History