Thomas Struthers, the industrialist, built this imposing house as a wedding present for his only daughter, Anna Eliza, in 1870. Anna married George H. Wetmore, the youngest son of the second generation of Wetmores, whose parents had come to Warren 1815. The marriage was a source of great joy to both families, and the house which Thomas Struthers built was a tangible expression of the general pleasure that surrounded the event.
Completed in 1873, the house was built in the modern Italian Renaissance style, red brick with a white wood trim, a mansard roof, a large veranda across the front, and a balcony opening out from the parlor. Not only are the outer walls made of double layers of brick separated by an air space, but so also are the interior supporting walls which are carried down into the basement and which go down to bed rock. The woodwork throughout the main part of the house is solid walnut.
The house has the traditional wide central hall with a handsome staircase. The formal parlor was on the left of the entrance (the west side of the house); across the hall was a smaller sitting room and back of it a rather smaller study. The dining room was directly behind the big parlor. The kitchen and what probably was a servants’ dining room and a large pantry occupied the back part of the first floor.
The second story had four large bedrooms, back of which were several smaller rooms, probably sleeping quarters for the servants—all of whom “lived in.” The third floor had three large rooms and two smaller bedrooms, possibly the sleeping quarters of the gardener and the coachman.
In 1880, eight years after the Wetmore family moved into their beautiful home, Mrs. Wetmore died very suddenly at the age of 32. Ten years after that, in 1890, George Wetmore died, and six years after that their only child, Thomas Struthers Wetmore, died at the age of 24 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. Thomas Struthers himself had died in 1892.
For approximately two years after George Wetmore’s death, the house was rented by Mrs. Emily Breed, a physician;; and in 1893, it was sold to Charles Schimmelfeng. It was modernized to a considerable extent at that time and for 58 years, the Schimmelfeng family lived there. In 1950, the only surviving member of that family, Miss Frances Schimmelfeng, sold the property to the Warren County Commissioners, who converted the house into the Court House Annex.
At that time, there was still evidence of the occupancy of the former owners. The elegant wrought-iron gate still hung at the entrance to the front walk, inside, several of the original gas chandeliers were still in place. During the early years of the Schimmelfeng ownership, they had been electrified except for one gas light in one bedroom. The fixtures in the parlor, the hall, and what is now the office of the historical society were especially lovely. In the parlor the elaborate fixture hung by a gold chain from the high ceiling, its original gas “candles” later replaced by electric ones. The hall fixture was an inverted white alabaster globe hanging by a brass (or Gilded) chain, and in the present office, the central chandelier was an intricately designed silver fixture.
As the home of the Warren County Historical Society, the house has been in part restored to its homelike atmosphere. Today the formal parlor is dressed in an elegant Victorian motif, the dining room serves as the library, the smaller sitting room to the left is the front office and behind that is the side office, both contain genealogy information for the many researchers that visit the research facility.