The homes on Fourth St. NE in Massillon are more than just large mansions in an otherwise unassuming city, they represent over 150 years of architectural style and opulence. They harken back to a time when Massillon was great.
When driving down The Lincoln Highway (OH-172) into Massillon, there is a small brown sign on the right side of the street that says, “Historic Fourth Street Northeast.” Most would just give it a passing glance and drive on. But to those who take the little detour onto the old and cobbled brick road, they are treated to a slice of Massillon right out of the past.
The significance of Fourth street comes from the fact that almost every important figure in early Massillon history put up residence there at one time or another. Think of it as the Beverly Hills of Massillon (I know, a bit of a stretch but go with me on this). President William McKinley and his wife, Ida regularly stayed there. And it all started as a small tract of land owned by the founder of the town of Kendal, Ohio, Thomas Rotch.
The crown jewel of Fourth street has to be what is referred to as “Five Oaks.” This massive mansion was the home of several powerful men in Massillon’s history and is now the home of the Massillon Women’s Club. It was constructed by J. Walter McClymonds (a wealthy banker in Massillon) in 1894. It, along with the other mansions on the street represented the “Massillon Elite.” It was very fashionable to live on Fourth Street, which, at that time, was named “Prospect Street”.
Other houses on the street include the former residences of many men who were in power over the years in Massillon. Fourth Street, with its cobbled brick-and-stone slab sidewalks lends itself to analogue photography. I get to drive on it every day, to and from work and that gives me the opportunity to snap some fun pictures. I am always able to see something new when I go down that road.
Since the heyday of Fourth Street, many of the former opulent mansions have been subdivided into apartments, and as a result, have fallen into disrepair. Some though, like Five Oaks and several others, have been saved and preserved for all to see and enjoy.
So if you are driving down I-77 South past Canton, Ohio, take the detour down Ohio Route 21 West and stop by Massillon. We might not have much but it’s worth the trip.
Keep on snappin’!