The Lane-Hooven House

I posted on this blog yesterday a summary of my Christmas Walk in Hamilton's German Village with some of my family and friends. One of the many highlights of the afternoon walk for me was a fairly quick but enjoyable tour of the historic Lane-Hooven House on Third Street in Hamilton.

From the very first steps, the house is a striking and beautiful experience. It was built in 1863 for Clark Lane, a Hamilton Industrialist who is often regarded as Hamilton’s first philanthropist. The house,which because of its octagonal shape is widely regarded as Hamilton’s most unique residential structure, was sometimes called Lane’s Folly. Construction began in 1863 and took eleven months to complete. The doors were always open for every charity and aid society. The largest entertainment numbered more than three hundred.

Clark Lane’s company, Owens, Lane and Dyer, prospered mightily. The company manufactured a new mechanical marvel that could thresh and separate grain in one operation (both horse-drawn and steam-powered), a springtooth riding or horse-drawn rake, and, above all, the road engine, a steam engine that could be moved from place to place to power farm machinery.

The Lane-Hooven House was purchased in 1875 by John L. Martin, then president of the Second National Bank of Hamilton. It was sold in 1882 to Colonel Alexander Gordon, secretary and later president of Niles Tool Works of Hamilton (it was later inherited by Gordon’s niece, Mrs. C. Earle Hooven, and her husband, and they owned it from 1895 until 1942). Bertrand Kahn bought the home in 1942 and donated it to the city, stipulating that the Red Cross was to have use of the building through World War II (the Red Cross continued as its tenant until June 1, 1978). Ownership of the house transferred in 1951 to the Hamilton Community Foundation, which owns and occupies it today.

The house's hobbit-like elegance extends even to the bathroom. Displayed on the second floor are a couple antique typewriters which, of course, held special interest for this writer (and aficionado of typewriters).

The Lane-Hooven House is open Mondays through Fridays from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (its usual lack of weekend hours is one of the reasons yesterday was my first visit). It is located at 319 N. 3rd Street in Hamilton, directly across the street from the main branch of the Lane Library--which Clark Lane had built in 1866 for the express purpose of housing a public library.

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