Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sophia Huntington Parker - Pythian Sisters Home

Last month the Pythian Sisters home was demolished. 

Demolition of the former Pythian Sisters Home on North Huntington.
Medina County Gazette 6 July 2017.

The building existed for over 100 years. Below is a history.

Sophia Huntington Parker

As you can see from her photo, Sophia Huntington Parker was a formidable woman.

She was born around 1840, daughter of Peter HUNTINGTON (1808-1889) and Jane (SIMMONS) HUNTINGTON (1809-1878). She was one of five siblings:
  • Jane 1836-1869
  • Levi 1838-1838
  • Sophia 1840-1903
  • Lucretia 1844-1872
  • Eliza M. 1847-1874

Otis Thompson 1867-1898
Medina Gazette 8 Sep. 1898 p. 4.
You will notice from the above list, that by the time Sophia's mother died in 1878, Sophia was the only survivor of her parent's children. Not only did Sophia take over the care of the house and her father, she became the mother to her sister Jane's two boys, Edward Thompson (1863-1886) and Otis Thompson (1867-1898).                                                                                          Jane had married P.H. Thompson, who was an itinerant optometrist. Edward died at the ate of 24 in the Newburg Hospital outside of Cleveland. Otis volunteered to serve in the Army during the Spanish American War. He survived Cuba, only to die of malaria and dysentery upon his return at Long Island, New York.

Sophia's father, Peter,  had bought 96 acres of farmland on the northwest edge of the city of Medina in 1834. Huntington Street is undoubtedly named after the family and the farm.

Sophia married William Parker when she was 44 years old, a spinster according to the times. I wonder if it was a contentious marriage because in her father's will, he gave her the use and income of his estate, "as long as she remained the wife of William Parker or lives with him as his wife, but if she should cease to live with him as his wife or he should decease before she does then I give her said estate absolutely and unconditionally."

Medina County Ohio Wills, Court of Common Pleas, Vol G, 1887-1890, page 408.

Or perhaps Peter just didn't want William Parker to profit from his marriage to Sophia. In any case, William Parker died in 1899.

When Sophia died in December of 1903, it was discovered that her own will was quite long and detailed, covering 17 pages of "closely written pages." The newspaper claimed that she would have made a fine lawyer. It's recap of her will covered six full columns! Item 8 provided for the organization of an "Old Ladies' Home" which would be names "The Sophia Huntington Parker Home."

Medina Sentinel 25 December 1903,page 1.
The time limit almost ran out on the proviso of the will, but eventually the Pythian Sisters stepped in and organized the home.

In 1914, the cornerstone was laid.

And in 1918, they held the grand opening with over 2000 people coming for the festivities and to gawk.

It was quite the show place and citizens of Medina would bring out-of-town visitors by just to look at the grand building.

Here, the home is featured on a post card

   The Pythian Sisters  held their annual meetings at the home for years.

Around 30 women made the home their home in their final years. As it was a Pythian Sisters home, the women were members of the group and would have to turn over all their worldly possessions to gain entrance. 

Originally, the surrounding farmland and cows made the home self-sustaining. Eventually, that stopped. Over the years, additions and improvements were made.

In 1978, the home was the first stop on Medina's Fall Foliage Tour.

Medina County Gazette 10 October 1978.

Eventually, the home also accepted elderly men within its walls.

I remember when library staff would offer programs at the home. 

The doors of the home closed permanently in 2000. 

In 2008, the building was auctioned off for $715,000. There was talk of offices going into the space but that never happened.  A church used the building for a few years. In 2011, Medina City Council debated buying it.  And in 2013 it was used in the filming of the horror movie Fear Clinic.

But that all came to an end this month when the walls came tumbling down.

      Lindsay Smith, Eric Rapenchuk, “Pythian Sisters,” Discover Medina, accessed July 20, 2017,
Historical Highlights of Medina
History of Medina County and Ohio
Medina County Gazette
Medina County Sentinel


Anonymous said...

Why did they tear it down?

Kat said...

It would cost too much to repair it.

Anonymous said...

That's a shame 😞

Anonymous said...

She was ahead of her time with senior living arrangements. That would be a popular place now!


Kathy, your interest in Medina history is only exceeded by your research capabilities to tell the store in complete detail. Good job again with your MCDL Blog!


Kat said...

Thanks, Bob! That means a lot coming from a top-notch researcher such as yourself!