Crittenden House / Castle Hill
The Crittenden Farm, southwest of the intersection of U.S. 224 and U.S. 250 in Ruggles Township (Ohio) has been added to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Register of Historic Places..
High atop the rolling hills east of this Huron County village a great Victorian farmhouse known to area residents as Castle Hill makes it prominent outline against the sky.
The house stands proudly atop one of the few hills to break the monotonous flatlands, its tall tower visible for miles around in a picturesque setting. The 660-acre farm contains two farmhouses of architectural significance, rare virgin woodlands and an unusual family cemetery.
The original farm, dating back to the Connecticut Fire Lands District following the American Revolution, totaled 660 acres. Erie and Huron counties and Ruggles Township comprise land allotted to victims of the burning by the British in the Revolution.
According to documents sealed with the imprint of the colonial Connecticut legislature the present owner has in his possession, the original owner of the farm, Nezer Sutherland, Gorham NY, bought 16 parcels of land from 14 different suffers who gave up their claims.
He and his wife, Phoebe, built a house and several barns-two of which still stand near the center of the farm. Sutherland died in 1848 and his wife followed 6 years later. Both are buried in a shady family cemetery on the farm with a son John.
The estate fell into the hands of another son, Josiah who ran the farm until Medad Crittenden became the owner in 1871 from Sutherland’s heirs.
Charles Crittenden began construction of Castle Hill March 13, 1878, with a detailed "article of agreement" with builder David Myers, Wayne County. The pact used the home of John Flukes as a guideline. It specified such materials as "the best Vermont slate" for the roof, certain styles of flues, plaster and woodworking, brass fixtures, porcelain doorknobs and indoor shutters at every window.
A central feature of the house is the mansard roofed tower which rises above the northeast corner over the main entrance. There is an unusual amount of carved wood ornamentation around the windows and the bracketed cornices.
The 15-room house with its 10-foot ceilings was built for $2,700. The tower pediments and decks on the roof were added in another agreement in August of that same year, at an additional cost of $425.
The structure, highlighted by an open stairway that makes on complete spiral from the ground floor to the top of the tower, was finished in 1880.
The southern farmhouse is an Italianate style residence, also constructed of wood. Although it lacks a tower, its ornamentation is similar and only slightly less elaborate than Castle Hill.
The western part of the farm is heavily wooded with mature trees, primarily beech tulip and hickory. An earthen dam built in 1952 forms a lake of about 12 acres near the center of the farm. A 1.6 mile dirt lane which runs between the two farmhouses skirts the old cemetery, which contains the monuments of the original owners of the farm.
Some of the features of Castle Hill from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office are as follows:
An amazing house for frame construction: bracketed eaves, hoodmolds, mansard roofs, roof cresting, bracketed porches, gingerbread gables. Ornately cared porches wrap around the NE and SE corners of the house. The window and door openings are slightly rounded and have carved wood ornamentation. A prominent spiral walnut stairway ascends to the tower.