View southwest to the site of lot 3777.
View southwest to the site of lot 3777 in 2013.
Victorian House at 529 N. Wittenberg Ave.
Victorian House at 529 N. Wittenberg Ave.

In 2012 a house at the southwest corner of West College and North Wittenberg on Wittenberg’s campus was demolished.

Eight feet of clean fill was placed atop the concrete basement slabs to fill in the basement area and the the remains of the house built in 1936 removed. The only memory of  a house is a slight u-shaped rise on the west side of the lawn that faces Wittenberg Avenue. The lot sits empty and yet, this location has a rich history both for Wittenberg and for Springfield.

Lot 3777 (50 x 150 feet) is found on the plat of Wittenberg College and was first sold by the Board of Directors in 1882 to Springfielder David R. Hosterman. It is not clear if the wooden Victorian house was present at this time, but by 1891, the outline of the Victorian home appears on the Sanborn Fire Maps. The Springfield City Directory  for 1890-91 records two tenants: Lizzie Whitely and Samuel F. W. Myers. After only 8 months,  Hosterman sold the property to John Myers, a resident of Pike, Ohio. Myers assumed Hosterman’s mortgage. Three years later Flora E. Winger (née McKibben) bought the property in 1886, along with several other lots throughout Springfield. Flora and her husband John C. Myers then sold the property to Ella I. McMillen (née Hill; known later as Ella I. MacMillen) in 1892. McMillen was married to Samuel Melvin MacMillen, former editor of the Marietta Times and a collector for the US Internal Revenue, based in Columbus. Samuel and two of his sons, Charles and Samuel E., would live with him at 218 Ferncliff Avenue. On rare occasions  Ella and Francis would join them when not living abroad on a concert tour or in Marietta with Ella’s parents. One of their sons, Francis Rea MacMillen, became a world famous violinist, with his solo debut with the Queen’s Hall Orchestra in London in 1903. Just two years later, in 1905, Ella sold the house to Ollie Abbott, wife to Elmer D. Abbott, a superintendent in the school district and manager of the Springfield Gas Company. The Abbots, like the Hostermans, were Springfield residents, who made their name by working within the city and purchasing several properties in the area. Their son, Charles Abbott, lived at 529 N. Wittenberg, with his parents, while he attended Wittenberg Academy in 1907 and 1908.

In 1908 the house was bought by Clara Hamma. She was just two years into her marriage to Rev. Michael W. Hamma, who was 30 years her senior at the time. They resided in the house together, with a maid Mary McQuire (1912-1915), until Michael’s death in 1913. Clara continued to live in the house but took in  at least one boarder, Louise Hoover, who was attending Wittenberg Academy. By 1919, Clara decided to sell the house to the alumnae chapter of the ΑΞΔ sorority that she served as a patroness for several years. As the women moved into Clara’s house, she would relocate to 40 W. College, the first house of the ΑΞΔ sorority.

Remodeled Georgian House after 1936 at 203 West College.
Remodeled Georgian House after 1936 at 203 West College.

The next significant change came in 1936 when the house was remodeled from the Victorian style to a Georgian house. On May 1, 1936 the Wittenberg Torch, the campus newspaper, recounted how Springfield Architect Ralph Harmon shifted the entrance of the house to the permanent entrance at 203 W. College. Support for the remodeled was attributed to three alumni: George Ballinger, who was married to Helen Protzman ’24; Marjorie Smith Gotwald Voigt ’06; and Margaret Louise Shuberth ’25. All three women were members of the ΑΞΔ sorority. Both Shuberth and Protzman lived in the 529 N. Wittenberg house while students. Voigt lived in the original house in 1906. At the time of the renovation, Helen Protzman was president of the local Springfield chapter of the Alpha Z’s and Margaret Smith was the treasurer.

By the 1980’s membership in the sorority dwindled and they were no longer able to maintain the house. In 1992, the sorority’s Alumni chapter sold the property back to the Board of Directors of Wittenberg University. The property had then returned to Wittenberg after 110 years. The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity moved into the house in 1992 and remained there until 2010?, when the condition of the house was deemed a significant health risk and condemned.

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