NEWARK, Ohio (WCMH) — Colonnades lead from a four-car garage to this eleven bedroom mansion built by the storied Weiant family — complete with pocket doors, mahogany floors and a private tunnel to escape into the gardens.
There are only two stoplights between the houses on Marne Road before the streets turn into a freeway all the way to Columbus. Getting to the new Intel site is a short 20-minute commute on State Route 161.
Additionally, there is another four-bedroom residence that comes with the property, plus a pool house which can be used as yet another home.
The house also has a historically significant past. Two publicly celebrated people lived at the home: Inventor Warren Weiant; and his equally groundbreaking daughter-in-law Eleanor Smith Weiant, a champion swimmer and advocate for disabled people.
A family of firsts
The home’s history begins with wealthy inventor Warren Weiant, whose father moved the family to Licking County in 1866, according to Madison Township history.
“Warren Weiant was a local industrialist, and he had no fear of doing something for the first time,” said Shawn Redman, of Sotheby’s, who is handling the sale of the property for the current owners, the Plikerd family. “Weiant owned a bakery that became very successful. He brought electricity to his bakery so they could bake 24 hours a day.
“What started out as a local bakery, turned into an enormous supply for other companies. The bakery was later sold to Nabisco.”
Weiant built several homes in the area, and started the first bus line in Ohio so that residents could reach downtown Newark. The Weiant family moved into the American Craftsman-style home on Marne Road in 1905, which Weiant owned until his death in 1926.
Weiant also grew vegetables, and at one time had the largest greenhouse operation in the country. Redman said that when the family bought the land in 1904, the property was 100 acres, and they paid a lot of money for it.
“People made a lot of fun of him because it was all marshland,” said Redman. “But he had been on a trip to Michigan and saw where celery, and other root vegetables grew in moist, wet, marshy land in ‘bad’ soil. He brought that here.”
Weiant added tomatoes, which meant greenhouses. According to Madison Township History, the operation covered many acres, all under glass, with two trains stopping daily to take produce to market as far away as Chicago.
The greenhouses eventually broke down under storms, said Redman, although in the 1980s he recalled that the Weiant business still made hanging baskets.
In comes Eleanor
“The house was originally built and finished in 1905 for the main part of the house, and then in 1913 his oldest son was married and they did an addition to the home and basically doubled the size of it,” Redman explained.
The woman Warren Weiant Jr. married was Eleanor Smith, an accomplished swimmer with world records to her name, said Redman. The couple met at a swim meet.
Eleanor and her sister, Ruth Smith Miller, were known as Ohio’s Greatest mermaids, competing nationally and setting world records for swimming, according to the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities which Eleanor founded. The sisters were also the first women to swim and compete nationally with Ohio State University’s men’s swim team in the early 1920s.
Of course, the house on Marne Road has a pool. But swimming wasn’t all there was to Eleanor.
She became an activist for people with developmental disabilities, opening one of the first schools in the state to serve those children. Eleanor also lobbied legislators to get funding for children with disabilities.
“When Eleanor died on Nov. 13, 1985, at age 82, the entire Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities closed for a day in her honor,” the website recorded.
Warren Weiant Jr. and Eleanor Smith Weiant had three children: Warren III, Edmund, and Sally.
And two more homes thrown in
“As it stands today, there’s a nice two-story guest cottage off to the east — it’s a four-bedroom home, very sweet,” Redman said during a tour of the home. “And then we have the pool house out in the back yard, a self-sustaining residence if you want it to be.”
Redman sees several potentials for the property: a multi-family, intergenerational home, a lodge or guesthouse, or a respite and care facility.
Whoever buys it, however, will find the energy of innovators and inventors baked into the walls, with reading nooks, writing corners, and high-quality craftsmanship tooled into the simplest details.
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