302 East Second Street

The Champney House

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The Champney House:

 

It wasn't until 1990, after a long period of neglect during which overgrown brush, weeds, and trees almost happily hid it from general view, that this house at 302 East Second re-emerged as one of our finest examples of the Victorian period.

Built around 1865 for druggist Aaron R. Champney who owned it for nearly 50 years, the gable front and wing house later was in the Fenneberg family for 53 years.

In 1990, the present owners acquired the property, and had the grounds cleared and developed plans to restore the house to its original form.

The architectural style is Italianate frame.

house

302 East Second Street

The tall and narrow windows are topped with slight or non-fanciful pedimentation, but the porch has highly decorative brackets over square posts, and the porch roof features dentils. The front gable contains spindlework showing Eastlake influences -- he being an English furniture designer who created design elements used in residential architecture.

Aaron Champney was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1830 and spent 18 years on the Great Lakes, working himself from the lowest position to that of master of the ship. Throughout his life here, beginning in 1862, he was addressed as "captain." In 1866 he purchased the interest of Dr. J. H. Rheinfrank in the then called New Drug Store (to distinguish it from one already in existence owned by Peck and Hamilton). The new entry soon changed its name to Inscho and Champney and was located in a frame building where now stands the Citizens Bank Building in the first block of Louisiana.

Mr. Champney eventually bought out his partner and in 1900 got out of the business, selling it to his son Charles who three years later also sold it. In 1904 a fire wiped out a number of buildings in the first block of Louisiana, including that of the drug store, so the pharmacy was moved into a storeroom of the Phoenix Building (now Mills Hardware). Charles Champney then bought back the business in 1909 and relocated it to what has long been known as "drug store corner" at the corner of Louisiana and West Front. The drug store remained in the Champney family until it was sold in 1937 to C. W. Houck.

Aaron Champney was a prominent citizen and merchant and was among the petition signers in 1872 to build a new court house (the Town Hall) in a failed effort to get the county seat returned here from Bowling Green. He died in 1908 at the age of 77.

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