Ideally, Greg and Pauline Rand wanted to restore the historic Mother Thompson House and make it their home. But now, as reported over the weekend in The Times-Gazette, the 1830s era structure they own in Hillsboro is coming down and they plan to construct a new home for themselves on the spacious Willow Street lot.
The former plan, Greg Rand said Monday, was to remove the three large additions to the original home, remove the roof because much of it was rotted, then build a new home inside the original exterior walls.
“We just basically were going to have the walls standing and see if they would stay up,” Greg Rand said. “I didn’t think they would and no one else did either, but we were going to try to attempt it. We were going to build inside the frame, but it wouldn’t stand. It’s just crumbling away. It’s just too far gone.”
Greg Rand said the plan was to put on a new roof just like the old one, repair the foundation and then paint the exterior of the original home.
“But the plan changed when we got back here and saw how bad it had gone downhill in the two and half years since (the previous owner) had it. It just started falling down when we started taking the timber out of it,” said Greg Rand, who lives six months of the year in Florida.
Greg Rand originally purchased the home four years ago. He said that before he purchased it a Wilmington bank had it on the market for three years, but no one seemed to want it. He had it for two years, then sold it to someone who was going to build a teen center on the property. But according to Greg Rand, the owner found out that city zoning in the area would not allow a teen center there, so it was put back up for sale.
Greg Rand repurchased it in November of last year. He said that in the time since he originally sold it, two chimneys had fallen off the structure and had not been repaired, and the north wall had bowed and started falling apart.
Pauline Rand said she did not want to the building to come down because of its historic significance and the fondness many local residents have for it.
“I was born and raised in this town and I couldn’t take the people being mad at me,” she said.
The Mother Thompson House served as a home to early temperance crusader Mother Eliza Jane Thompson and was built by her father, former Ohio Governor Allen Trimble, who served as the state’s governor in 1822 and then from 1826 to 1830.
Local historian Jean Wallis previously told The Times-Gazette that the home was built by Trimble after he served as governor. She said that despite a plaque still visible on the front of the home that says circa 1819, it was actually built in 1831 or 1832, according to local tax records. She said Mother Thompson moved into the home sometime later, when the home she was born in that stood about where The Times-Gazette is now located at 108 Gov. Trimble Place was destroyed by fire. She said Thompson moved out of the home when she married in 1837, but moved back in in 1862 and lived there until her death in 1905.
Wallis also said that all of Mother Thompson’s children were born in the home and that several other families members lived there off and on while Thompson resided there.
Most of the salvageable wood has already been removed. But while a piece of history is disappearing, some of it will be salvaged.
The Highland County Historical Society has been given the front doors, atrium and some special exterior bricks, and local artist Avery Applegate has taken some of the large metal nails and plans to make jewelry out of them to sell at the historical society’s Highland House Museum, the Rands said. They said the city of Hillsboro has been told it can have any part of the structure it wants.
Pauline Rand said she plans to donate some of the stone foundation of the house to be used in the construction of a new fountain under consideration in uptown Hillsboro. She said she wants to do that because one of her ancestors marched with Mother Thompson in the Hillsboro temperance crusades.
The lot is large enough, Greg Rand said, that it could hold eight individual building lots.
He said that at one time he considered building condominiums on the lot, but zoning prohibited that, too.
“We’re just going to build a house there and see what happens from there,” Greg Rand said.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.