Oak Hill was built by John Robinson in 1847 on a hill overlooking
the town, then a few thousand population, and close by the railroad
he had helped to build.
Gothic Revival house has been the focal
point of the view to the north from the center of town ever
since. Although encroached upon by the city, the elevation and
orientation of the house projects a vision of a nearly forgotten
era across the intervening industrialized valley.
Robinson owned a large
flour mill on Walnut Street and was Superintendent of the newly built
Sandusky City and Mansfield Railroad. He was a business
associate of Attorney Charles T. Sherman and his younger
brother, John, who later became a Senator and author of the
Sherman Anti-trust Act. His choice to build in
the Gothic Revival style reflected his sophistication in the
latest trends in architecture. John Sherman also built his first home
of similar style and grandeur in the same year. Its fate was to
be turned into apartments in later years and torn down in the
Robinson and his family lived at Oak Hill until
1861, and five of his twelve children were born here. From about
1855 Robinson was associated with Wells Fargo Co. and involved
with the establishment of the Great Southern Overland Mail. In
1861 he left Oak Hill on a trip to purchase a silver mine in
Batopilas, Mexico. He operated the mine at great profit to his
investors who included Wells Fargo directors W. G. Fargo,
Danford Barney, and Ashbel Barney.
late 1850's, Dr. Johannes Aten Jones, an eye, ear and nose
specialist, advertised that he was coming to this area to treat
patients. One of his patients was Amanda Barr. Dr. Jones fell in
love with Amanda's sister Frances Ida and they were married in
1861. She was 17 and he was 31.
In 1864 Frances persuaded Dr. Jones to buy Oak
Hill for her. When Dr. Jones bought the house he replaced
fireplace surrounds and mantel shelves with the ones that
presently are in the house except the two in the parlor which
are original; the other five are different from these and each
other, and are Italian marble.
On the marble mantle in the dining room there is a
letter "J" carved into it. He also imported the beautiful framed
mirrors from France. Natural gas service was available in 1864 and
Dr. Jones had the service brought to Oak Hill to use for lighting
and heating. All but four of the chandeliers in the house are
original. They were taken down during the restoration and
refurbished and wired for electricity. Dr. Jones installed gas
burners in the fireplaces to provide heat. Furnaces were installed
prior to 1896 with ductwork to the first floor only.
Indoor plumbing was installed in 1877, connected to the new city
water works. Bathrooms on the first and second floors were
installed, with hot and cold running water and a third tap for
rainwater collected in the cistern.
The furniture in the house was purchased by the Jones
family. We have most of the original bills of purchase and can
identify most of the pieces. Most of it was purchased in New York
City and brought to Mansfield by train.
The property was divided and sold in 1923 after the
eldest daughter, Ida, died. Leile, one of the Jones' daughters,
moved back into the house in 1947 amongst it's furnishings of bygone
days until she sold the house and its contents to the Richland
County Historical Society in 1965. It was always her hope that one
day her family home would be restored to its original splendor.