Address: 818 Lafayette Street
Style: Greek Revival
Current owner: ARCH, Inc.
- Brick gable with decorative brick pattern and wide cornice
- Louvred shutters with shutter dogs
- Six over six double hung windows
- It’s two houses connected to serve as one
Reasons to cherish this place:
It has great history and an unsolved mystery.
The Alexander T. Rankin House holds so much history you have to wonder why the walls aren’t bulging out from all the stories held inside. The Rev. Rankin, who built it in 1841, was the third pastor of what is now First Presbyterian Church and an avid abolitionist whose activities and presence qualify this house as a documented site on the Underground Railroad that assisted black people fleeing slavery. After Rankin’s time, a grocer who was the first to sell toys, fresh strawberries and ice cream in his downtown store lived here. A third family, the DeWoods, owned the house for two generations and began the process of protecting the house by designating it a local historic district.
The mystery? We don’t know how or why the Rankin House is actually two houses, one brick and one wood frame, fit together. We don’t know which owner did it. All we know is that it was done no later than 1855, thanks to tax records.
The whole story of this amazing house is a video on ARCH’s website, archfw.org.