Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Rush R. Sloane House, Sandusky, OH

The Rush R. Sloane House, Sandusky, OH. 1850s Photo: Wikimedia
The Sloane house in Sandusky, OH was built in the early 1850s, but is known by its most famous occupant Rush R. Sloane who purchased it in 1854 from its builder, Samuel Torrey. Sloane was a lawyer early in his career and later became a railroad president and mayor of Sandusky. The house is well-known because it likely served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

This house follows the side hall plan, but it is also towered, a sometimes seen variation on the traditional side hall house. Although the house seems in rough shape in this image, the decay shows us that it is built of fieldstone with a plaster coating, probably to simulate cut stone; cut stone is also implied by the corner quoins. The white coloring of the house is probably not historical; it is likely it would have been painted various shades of brown, also to simulate stone and because Downing's color theories held a lot of sway in the 50s. Downing railed against white houses as being disturbing in the landscape and instead advocated for tans, browns, pinks, and pale blues as appropriate colors. The cornice is of the paneled style, with heavy brackets and large dentils. The ornament is overall exuberant. The house has eared moldings with hood moldings that appear like broken reverse ogee arches with incised ornament and strong keystones. They seem to be made out of cast iron. The left side features a rather damaged Juliette balcony with a fringed wooden awning, while the entrance porch has a flat top trefoil arch and Corinthian columns. The lions on the newel posts do not look original to me.

The roof and tower are particularly beautiful in their execution. To increase the appearance of the tower's height, it is situated on a base with panels and rusticated edges. The arched windows are surrounded by panels and pilasters. The tower roof is a very small mansard with a shallow slope. One more detail that caught my fancy was the chimney. The chimney visible in the image is paneled and has a bracketed cornice with a round pediment. This is a particularly French looking detail. Certain aspects of the house, the trefoil arch, the elaborateness of the hood moldings, the Second Empire style chimney, and the complex cornice tell me this might have been remodeled or added to in the late 60s or 70s. Since Rush achieved his fortune in the 60s and became mayor in the late 70s, he might have decided to update his more sedate villa of the 50s with fashionable elaborateness. It does remain a grand looking house despite its current disrepair. The following enlargements show some of the details.


  1. According to the book "At home in early Sandusky" (1975 reprint), there was "a secret hiding place" in this house that still existed in the late 40's, a place where the original owners could hide runaway slaves.
    I was just in Sandusky and was quite impressed with many of the buildings. Unfortunately I missed the Sloane house but hope to go back and see more. Dave S.

  2. At present the Rush R. Sloane Home is undergoing a major restoration to bring it back to its glory

    1. rush sloane shapleighJanuary 7, 2014 at 10:54 AM

      Could you please let me know the progress of this restoration and who is in charge. I visited the house several years ago. Also, I have an item which I am considering donating to this house, and I would appreciate the contact information. Thank you.
      Rush Sloane Shapleigh (great, great grandson of Rush Sloane)

    2. Mr. Rush Sloane Shapleigh,
      My name is Robert S. I am the contractor in charge of the restoration, please contact me anytime at 419 six five six 6475. I will be anxiously awaiting to speak to you about this historical landmark.
      Thank you,
      Robert S.