St. Clair Manor was built by Henry St. Clair for his wife, Ella Van Dyke St. Clair. This was her dream house. It was her dream house with all the latest technology. Victorian style homes were the new design. When you walk in you will see beams on the ceiling solder course around the fireplace. The trim is Victorian and the wood is made of English Oak, which was imported from England. The formal dining is complemented by the same Victorian Style also with a fireplace. The same goes for the informal dining room.
However after you enter the large front door and turn left into the parlor you will see that the decor is of Italian Gothic and the wood is made of Cherry which also imported from Italy. The wood trim was done on site. He brought craftsman from England and Italy. Between the parlor and the sitting room there is two large columns and a Francisco goes all around both rooms. Hand carved corbels and columns surround the two fireplaces. There are pocket doors that on one side is Cherry, the other is Oak.
In 1896 electric was just a novelty, so Henry had gas/electric lights installed. The lights that were installed had wires running thru the gas line. These lights were only made for a few years for obvious reasons. The original fixtures are still in working shape but the gas lines were disconnected. The car port on the side was designed for carriages, and the carriage house was in the rear.
Another convenience was that the house had running water before the city provided water. It had a bathroom designed in the house, with the running water thanks to a cistern located in the large attic which caught the water from the roof and thru the internal gutters. This large water tank pressurized the system to permit a full working bathroom.
Henry St. Clair died 10 years after the house was built at the age of 55.
He was very active in the community. When Carnage Library(Greenville Public Library) was built they received $25000 from Carnage Foundation, however that didn’t cover any interior decor. So, Henry donated $15000 to finish the floors in white marble, the grand entrance way, statues, and filled the shelves with reference books, plus other items.
He was also very concerned for those children who could not afford school clothes, food, and books. So he called on the truant officer to get a list of how many students needed assistance. The truant officer came up with the list, Henry said he did not want to see it. Just tell him how many. Henry gave him enough money to clothe, furnish all books and feed them for lunch. Henry told the truant officer to never divulge who was paying for the children. They never did, and each year the list was changed to cover new children and for those who graduated. It said they were some of the best dressed children in school.
Henry also felt very strongly that the school needed to teach the Arts. So he proposed the building of what would become known as St. Clair Memorial Hall. He wanted art rooms, music rooms, a full stage with an auditorium. But he also felt equally strong that the girls needed to learn all the new ways of caring for the family and the house with all the new inventions coming to market. And equally important he felt the boys needed to learn how to us the modern tools being invented. He felt that not knowing these things would put them at a disadvantage. Or more importantly give them the stepping stone to a good job. So his proposal was that the front would be for the arts and the back would be for home economics and shop class. Henry felt learning all three would give the children the chance for success.
It was not all that easy though he had to pay to have the old high school moved some 30 ft. to allow the hall to be built. After he got the School moved, he passed away. So, his wife Ella made arrangements to break ground and built Memorial Hall in his name. And they did have all three studies. And every student was required to take the appropriate subjects.
Henry and Ella never had any children of their own, And after Henry’s passing sheknew of other women who were not as lucky as her. So, after her passing she set up a foundation where widows could stay at no or very little cost. The new addition was added to the back and east to permit more bedrooms with the stipulation that nothing in the main house would be changed and no paint could be used on the wood trim. This is why the main house is as it was when it was built.
In 1986, it became to expensive for the foundation to meet the ever changing requirements set by the state. The foundation sold the house, all widows were moved to the Brethren Home. The foundation is still being used for the widows of Darke County at the Brethren Home to this day.