257 Jackson Street—Stop 3 on Washington Park Walking Tour

The Samuel Caldwell house on Jackson Street in a 1958 picture.  First Congregational Church’s main sanctuary building can be seen to the left of the house, and the Mahala Laundry building is just visible on the right side of the photo.  Image courtesy of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

In the early 1970s, First Presbyterian Church completed an addition containing educational classrooms north of its main sanctuary building along Jackson St.  The location of this addition, however, is notable as the site of the Samuel Caldwell house.

Samuel Caldwell was born in Cambridge, New York in 1792, and he came to the Sandusky area around 1816-1817 working as a merchant.  After building this house around 1835, Caldwell served as the mayor of Sandusky from 1837-1839 and also was one of the first local school directors.  During this time Jackson Street, Washington Row, and Wayne Street surrounding Washington Park was mostly a residential neighborhood.

In 1853 Caldwell sold this house and moved to another home located on Wayne Street at the opposite end of Washington Park (now the site of the local Social Security office).  Several subsequent owners initially used Caldwell’s former Jackson Street home as a private residence, but by the early 1900s it was the location of an early city library and then the local YMCA headquarters.

The transition of this house from a private residence to commercial uses continued when the owners of the Mahala Laundry bought the home after a massive fire in 1909 destroyed its previous location.  The laundry temporarily operated from this house through 1910 while constructing its new building (later demolished) north of the home.  Learn more about the history of the Mahala Laundry.

The Caldwell house also served as the clubhouse for the local post of the American Legion from 1924-1932, when the post moved to the nearby Lucas Beecher House.  Other businesses that occupied the Caldwell home included a yarn shop, a beauty parlor, and a finance company, reflecting the transition of this area along the northern edge of Washington Park from a residential neighborhood to a part of the city’s central business district.

Around 1963 First Presbyterian Church acquired the Caldwell house and demolished it to clear the space for its future expansion project.

The educational classroom wing of First Presbyterian Church can be seen to the right of its main sanctuary building in this 1987 picture.  This classroom wing occupies the site where Samuel Caldwell house once stood.  Image courtesy of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.