Van Wert “Castle” house built in 1890s for sale

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VAN WERT, Ohio (WANE) — Just south of downtown Van Wert on Washington Street sits a house recognizable by many in the community as Van Wert’s very own Castle, and right now it is for sale.

The house, which sits at 308 S. Washington St., is currently for sale for $479,900. It has been known for its architectural elements since it was first built.

“It’s recorded in the courthouse when it was built as the Castle so everybody knows it as the Castle,” said current owner Shirley Holmes. “When it was turned into a nursing home they just called it the Castle Convalescent Home.”

The Chateauesque-style home was built in 1898 for local business man and Ohio State Representative William T. Hughes.

“It’s William T. Hughes and he had three children,” said Holmes. “One died in infancy, he had a daughter that died at 23, and then the son was older and of course he’s the one that inherited it and then he sold it to the nursing home and a lot of the damage came forth during that episode.”

When Holmes purchased the in 2005 it needed extensive repairs and restoration throughout.

“They had to put a sprinkler system in it in the ’70s, I believe it was. I purchased it in 2005. The place was stood empty for four years and at some point during those four years prior to our buying it, those pipes froze, busted, and water ran in here for a month,”said Holmes.

The six-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house had water damage to the ceiling and walls, and although many decorative elements like the original tile pieces in the entryway, bathroom, and fireplaces were still in the property they with varying degrees of damage.

“When we got it, [the upstairs bathroom floor] had plywood, it had tar paper, it had carpet, but that’s all I could salvage,” said Holmes. “It was all cracked and broken.”

Holmes was also able to preserve some of the original tile in the entryway and able to find close color matches for the fireplace tiles.

Because of changes made to the house while it was a nursing home, Holmes had to do a lot of guesswork when it came to restoring the Castle to its former glory but it has allowed her to create her own stories of what life might have been like during the home’s early years, like the possibility that young suitors would visit Hughes’ daughter would sit on the courting bench attached to the stairs.

“That is what I’ve been told is a courting bench. They had a young daughter. Any suitor that came to court her, that’s where they sat,” said Holmes. “You didn’t go off in another room like you do today or go off in the car or buggy or whatever.”

Or, how a large empty space on the second floor was used.

“This is the, I call it the sitting room,” said Holmes. “I assume in the winter time it was very cold in here because they heat it with coal but heat rises and I assume they came up here, read whatever, before retiring.”

And behind that, the servants’ quarters which consist of a bathroom and three small rooms, two of which were at one point connected by a small door. Holmes speculates that it could have been a nursery attached to a maid’s room so that the maid would have easy access for caring for Hughes’ children.

She also drew inspiration from other pieces she finds .

“A lot of things, I don’t know what was there so I use my own thoughts,” said Holmes. “We knew [the banister] had a light in it of some sort because there was a hole there so I found [a lamp] on the Internet in California and thought, that’ll work.”

Other rooms were decorated based on a central piece of artwork.

“They say take a picture and build your room around the picture,” said Holmes. “I had [the master bedroom] picture and I thought, that kind of picks up that color. And see it has a birdcage? That’s why I got a birdcage.”

Holmes’ favorite features in the home will always be the unique aspects that have withstood the test of time, like the green man carvings adorned to the walls of the entryway or the ribbon emblems plastered in a border around the dining room.

“That entryway too. The faces kind of stood out to me and the dining room with the emblems and all, I’ve never seen that in homes.”

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