Since we found out so much about the Oblates time here, I decided to do some digging and see if I could clear up some more of the house’s history. We know Mr. Tillinghast was the original owner. He hired architects Brown, Burton and Davis from Cincinnati to design the house which is an unusual mix of English Tudor half timbering and French Gothic roof. We have many decorative details that don’t really fit either style of architecture. Our home is certainly unique among a whole neighborhood of unique homes.
Tillinghast was born in 1853. Using census records and other resources available on Ancestory.com I was able to discover these facts:
- According to the 1880 US census records, Alvin lived at 209 Michigan Street with his sister and brother-in-law, two nieces and his father. His occupation is listed as retail grocer.
- From the 1900 census (the year construction began on our house) The Tillinghasts, Alvin, his wife Eudora and son Harold rented a home at 2152 Robinwood. There is no 2152 now. It seems this home would have been located where the OWE Commons now is. We know there was a gas station there at one time. I guess the home was removed to put the gas station in. It is interesting that he rented the house across the street while his home was under construction. I guess that made it easier to keep an eye on things. Oddly, his occupation is listed on the census report as “baegel manufacturer.”
- The 1900 City director also shows the 2152 home as his address but lists Alvin the president and manager of Toledo Licorice Co and the second vice president of Central Savings Bank.
- From 1903-1909 the Tillighasts are listed in the Toledo City directory with our home’s address. This makes the rumor that Tillighast never lived in the home he built likely false.
- From 1905-1908 Tillighasts seems to have been running the licorice company that made him his fortune as well as being the treasurer of Royal Brush & Broom.
- The 1910 census report has the Tillighasts renting a home on Glenwood and he now is self employed, selling life insurance. It is safe to assume that Toledo Licorice has probably stopped operating and the failing company forced Alvin to move from the house he built. We are trying to find the records for the deed transfer to see if the house did return to the builder or if it was sold by the Tillinghasts.
- I was able to find that in 1922 he owned a home at 2547 Robinwood with no mortgage.
- He served on the board at The Toledo Museum of Art for many years.
- Mr. Tillinghast died at age 98 in 1951. I was able to find several obituaries for him. Most refer to him being a widower with no children. This seemed strange as I knew he had one son. Again using Ancestry records, I found his son Harold had passed away at age 45 in Pennsylvania. His cause of death was listed as suicide. Harold had a daughter who was 5 at that time. I was able to track her and she passed away in 1991. I’m not sure why Tillinghast didn’t list his granddaughter in his obituary. There seems to have been a lot of difficulties in Alvin’s life but he seemed to keep his chin up. Apparently he planned his own funeral 15 years prior to his death. He left very specific instructions that he would not have a casket but would lie in state on a slumber bed. The funeral home was to play music he chose and loved. He had cards printed out when he made his funeral arrangements that said “If you have any pleasant recollections of me, smile.” There seemed to be some discussion about whether refreshments would be served. He had requested none but the funeral home did decide to serve cake and coffee.