A historic home that may have been constructed using timbers from the last building at the U.S. military's 1815 Fort Wayne has been purchased by local historic preservation group ARCH.
ARCH announced Wednesday it had acquired the Dr. Merchant W. Huxford House, a two-story, red brick home built about 1854 and located at 520 Tennessee Ave., just east of Spy Run. The purchase price was not disclosed.
“This landmark, Greek Revival-style house has been on and off our Endangered list for more than 30 years,” Michael Galbraith, ARCH's executive director, said in the announcement.
“We intend to rehabilitate and protect this special building by getting it listed as both a City of Fort Wayne Local Historic District, and by nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places,” Galbraith said. “We'll stabilize it first, and then rehabilitate it so it can be returned to active use.”
Preservation covenants will protect the exterior from being changed, ARCH said.
The house has a new roof, but it needs both exterior stabilization and interior repair, Galbraith said when reached by phone.
On the exterior, the windows need repair and the brick walls need tuck-pointing, he said. Inside, there is some water damage that needs to be repaired and debris that must be removed.
He estimates it will take $20,000 to $50,000 to complete the exterior work, and a similar amount to make the interior usable again as a residence or as space for a business or social-service agency.
ARCH will be looking for partners to help with those expenses, he said.
Local folklore says the timbers used in constructing the house reportedly were salvaged during the demolition of the last building at the site of the Fort Wayne constructed in 1815, the ARCH announcement said.
That fort would have been the fifth and final in a series of forts built here dating back to the French Fort Miami in the early 1700s.
Historical records verify the last structures at the 1815 Fort were demolished about the same time that crews built the Huxford House in the early 1850s, the announcement says. Salvaging building materials was a common practice in the 19th century, ARCH added.
Galbraith hopes ARCH can confirm the timbers' connection to 1815 Fort Wayne while doing the research needed to nominate the house as a local historic district and to the National Register of Historic Places.
Architecturally, the home is an “outstanding example” of Greek Revival style and one of only about four homes of similar style that still survives in Fort Wayne, the announcement said.
A druggist and amateur botanist, Huxford served as a Fort Wayne City Council member beginning in the 1830s and also served three one-year terms as Fort Wayne mayor from 1846 to 1848, the announcement said.
In addition, he helped found the local Episcopal Church, the Allen County Agricultural Society and the Allen County Horticulture Society.
Huxford was semi-retired when he built the house, and he lived there until dying in 1878, the announcement said. His property once included the land from what is now Lawton Park east to the St. Joseph River.
ARCH purchased the home with the help of a loan from Indiana Landmarks' Efroymson Family Endangered Places Loan Fund, the announcement said. Indiana Landmarks also gave ARCH a Partners in Preservation grant to help pay for the cost of nominating the house to the National Register.