Located at 632 West Market Street adjacent to the Allen County Museum, the 1893 Victorian MacDonell House once occupied a prime location on what was known as the “Golden Block,” so named for the opulent homes and their wealthy owners – as well as a time of great economic growth and prosperity in Allen County. The oil boom of Northwest Ohio began in 1885 in Lima. The boom brought great investment into the area, not just in oil, but in many related businesses, causing unprecedented growth. At that time, the 600 block of Market Street was on the edge of town and the newly developing neighborhoods were growing along the major transportation corridors into town. Today, the MacDonell House is one of the few remaining examples of Victorian architectural elegance that once marked the “Golden Block.” Designed by architect Frank M. Leech and built by Lima businessman Frank Banta, the house is an example of Victorian Shingle-Style architecture. It contains three floors and seventeen rooms. The third floor was originally a billiard room but was later converted into a ballroom.
The 6,500 square-foot Victorian mansion contains five bedrooms, three full baths and one half bath. The house features six different parquet floors, coffered ceilings in three rooms, six fire places, fifty-three doors and ninety-five windows. German artisans hand-carved the quartered-sawed oak, cherry and mahogany wood throughout the home. An Art Deco twenty-pane stained glass window depicts a landscape scene along the east stairway. The exterior is clad in roman brick on the first floor and red slate on the second and third floors.
Named after the last family who lived in the home and its donor, the MacDonell house was home to five families. Confectioner Frank Banta built the house in 1893. The home’s second owners John and Emma VanDyke nearly doubled the size of the original house. John VanDyke was sent to Lima to build and manage the Solar Refinery by John D. Rockefeller. After standing empty between 1903 and 1915, William Hoover purchased the home. Hoover and his three brothers owned a furniture store. Elizabeth M. MacDonell, who helped the Allen County Historical Society and Archaeological Society fund raise for the current museum building, the purchased the home in 1932. The house was then passed down to her son James and wife Ellen MacDonell, who were also active Allen County citizens dedicated to preserving the county’s history. They gifted their home to the Allen County Historical Society in 1960. The MacDonell House is the only remaining Victorian home on Lima’s Golden Block.
The MacDonell House is available by tour only. Admission to the MacDonell House is $3 per person for adults and children ages 9 and up and supports the continued preservation and maintenance of the house. Admission is free for members and children ages 8 and under.