218 Main Street: The Ebenezer Brown house

218 Main St

benezer Brown built this house about 1828, which was the year he bought the lot from William Tolford. Tolford acquired it from Abraham Wagener in 1824 but apparently never lived on it.

Brown added a couple of small pieces of land on the north side, including one about 1830 on which he built a small building to serve as a post office. Cleveland thought this was the first separate post office in the village; prior to that it had been in the postmaster's home.

In 1836 Brown became, in the phrase of the day, "embarrassed." He left town for Goshen, Indiana and the almost universal conclusion was that he had defalcated; in fact, before he died he paid all his debts up to the dollar, a fairly remarkable circumstance in those debt-ridden cash-poor days. Cleveland takes care in his remarks to mention this evidence of Brown's exceptional integrity; he had been sheriff as well as postmaster, which was (and is) an elective position, so it was very important to his reputation.

William M. Oliver acquired the property when it was foreclosed in 1836, and immediately sold it to Charles G. Judd, son of the physician Uri Judd who lived on the spot where Robert Chissom's 1791 house and tavern had stood. The younger Judd was a lawyer, and served as the County's District Attorney for some years. The property stayed in his hands for decades, until eventually it was sold to Helen Holdsworth, who in 1909 sold it to George L. Barden. All this time it was a single family home, much enlarged from its earliest days, with a beautiful curved wooden balustrade on the staircase, big floor-length windows, elliptical arches and other features that showed the prosperous lifestyle of its early owners.

In the 1970s it was turned into apartments, rather unhappily cutting up the interior. After that the building received only minimal maintenance. By the time it was razed in 2001 it was regarded by many as an eyesore, and there was very little protest at its destruction.

The main block of the house was the original 1828 building, basically Greek Revival with some Federal details, particularly inside the house. Judd added the rear wing and the Italianate porches much later, perhaps in the 1860s. The unique triangular louvers in the pediment on the east side were original to the 1828 building.



Far right: 218 Main Street, a picture taken a short time before the structure was razed to create parking and a Main Street entrance for the new County buildings.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
  Ebenezer Brown
     Charles G. Judd


Related sites:

    222 Main Street

Related history:

The County Seat