Friday, October 19, 2012

Ainsworth Then and Now: The Chester House

Through the kindness of a Chester descendant, I have finally seen the Chester house in all its glory!

Pre-1910, post-1910 and 2012 [4/19/2021 update: and 2021]:
Chester house now
2021-04-19. Chester house - April 2021
(Click on images to enlarge)
First two images courtesy of Bruce McLain.

It was not so much a house as a mansion. When I first saw these images, I thought my pet theory had been shot down, as I couldn't reconcile that huge, beautiful house with the present-day structure at 7302 Ainsworth Road, which is large but (pardon me) looks tired and discouraged. However, now that I've calmed down and taken a closer look, I'm seeing a lot of similarities.

The east side lost its attic and its bay windows; the west side gained bay windows, while the small windows above the front porch were bricked over. Both porches, front and back, have been enclosed. It was difficult for me to duplicate the older photographs, because the original photographers did not have to deal with so many trees around the house. (Also, my camera just operates differently.) But all in all … I think I can keep my pet theory.

The two older photos are not dated, nor are the people in them identified — except for the man at right in the first one, who is Henry Chester himself. Thus the photo must have been taken before April 1910. From what little I can see of the women's fashions, my uneducated guess is perhaps the 1890s.

The second photo is later, when Charles and Constance Chester and their family occupied the house. You can see that the house has already been remodeled slightly. Again, my rough guess at a date, taking into account what I can see of the women's fashions, is perhaps between 1910 and 1920.

I wonder what the structure behind the house in the first photo was. You can barely see it, but it's got a chimney and a pitched roof; the lower windows are boarded up and the upper window appears to have multiple small panes. I imagine that it was the original frame or log house built by Henry's father, Charles. The brick house came later, when the family prospered. And once the brick house was up, the log house could be used for the chickens, or for storage. All of this is just my baseless speculation, of course! Whatever that building was, it had been taken down by the time of the second photo.

Reader, don't you just want to step into either of those old photos, and walk through the front door, and wander around the house to see the parlor, the kitchen, the bedrooms, and all the nooks and crannies?


Anonymous said...

That is an awesome picture sequence. Yes, I DO want to step into the picture. Thank you!

Tom said...

The color picture or the bottom one was my Uncle and Aunt's house. I think it was the mid 70's when my Aunt sold the house to the Lake County Park Dept.

Unknown said...

I sure would have loved to walk through a home like this.

Suzi E. said...

For some strange reason this house has been on my mind...I stopped there today to walk around the house and sad to see the house falling apart. It is some comfort to envision great grand aunt Constance and Charles' large happy family there long ago.

Chuck said...

The top picture was taken around 1905, (L to R)front are: Daisy Chester Scroggins, John Chester, Henry W. Chester, and back next to porch is Carrie Chester Raschka, on porch left is Lovisa (Aunt Vise)Chester Nelson and Luella Chester.

Chuck said...

The next picture is of Charles and Constance's family in 1914. Seating L to R are: George (Booty) Chester, Vincent Chester, Sela (Seeley) Chester, Robert Chester (my wife's father), Constance McClain Booty Chester, and Charles E. Chester. Standing on porch L to R are: Theresa Chester Shaw(Aunt Tres) and Jennie (Aunt Jen)Chester Hull. During Henry's ownership of the house, the third floor was used to dry out nuts. Behind the main house beyond the wood pile was the "Bunk" house for the farm help. At one time there were 6 hired hands and a house girl. Uncle Vince, who was a draftsman in the Navy, drew the floor plan of the Chester house as he remembered it. There were 6 bedrooms (2 on first floor and 4 on the second floor). The upstairs bedrooms slept 7 people. The only bath was upstairs. I never found out why the third floor was removed.

Ainsworthiana said...

Thank you! Very interesting!

Unknown said...

In the first photo, that heavy set man , wow that is Henry Chester. I love all these photos !