Robert C. Bell

The residence of Robert C. Bell was built in 1884. The distinctive Richardsonian style was one of the earliest designs of the prominent Fort Wayne architectural firm of Wing and Mahurin (who also designed the Old City Hall and the Elektron Building). The stone used for the exterior of the residence is native Indiana limestone. The wood used for framing and support, along with interior decorations came from the Jacob Klett & Sons Lumber Yard& Planing Mill.[1]

Robert Bell was a leading attorney in Fort Wayne in the late nineteenth century and served as a senator in the state General Assembly from 1874 to 1886. He was born in 1844 in Clarksburg (the town was named after his grandfather), Decatur County, Indiana, and served in the Eighth Indiana Regiment of Volunteers during the Civil War. After attending law school at the University of Michigan, he began practicing law in Munchie as an assistant to the state Attorney General. He moved to Fort Wayne in 1871.

Among his partners in his Fort Wayne law firm was William H. Miller, who served as United States Attorney General under President Benjamin Harrison. As a leading Indiana Democrat, he was a close friend with the perennial Democratic nominee for the presidency, William Jennings Bryan, who visited the Bell mansion four times and once gave a speech from the porch on the virtues of the silver standard. Bell’s wife, Clara Wolfe, was one of the founders of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

Robert Bell died in his home in 1901; the family continued to own the residence until 1904 when Mrs. Bell sold it to William K. Noble.[2]

William K. Nobel

William K. Nobel was born on December 5, 1862 in Van Wert, Ohio. In 1904, he opened an office in Fort Wayne for his lumber company and cooperage jobbing business, which operated throughout the states of Indiana, Michigan, and Missouri. Mr. Nobel’s son, Kenneth, was President of the Nobel Machine Company, which is still in operation today in Fort Wayne. In 1926, William Nobel and his wife Laura sold the home to William R. Klaehn, for his funeral business, Klaehn Funeral Home.

William Nobel died on May 26, 1935 and was put to rest in Lindenwood Cemetery. His wife, Laura Law, died five years later on April 4, 1940.[3]

[1] Gary R. Klaehn and Larry Melton, “The Home: 420 West Wayne Street,” pamphlet in 420 West Wayne St file in Street Archive, ARCH, Inc., 6.

[2] The Bicentennial Heritage Trail Committee, On the Heritage Trail: A Walking Guidebook to the Fort Wayne Heritage Trail (Fort Wayne: ARCH, Inc., 1994), 172-73.

[3] Klaehn and Melton, The Home: 420 West Wayne Street, 7.