PIQUA — Area residents will have the chance to tour seven historic homes in the Piqua-Caldwell Historic District, including the George H. Rundle House at 400 N. Downing St. The 109-year-old English Tudor Revival home is owned by Scott and Mary Frances Rodriguez.
The Dec. 9 tour will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 each at Mainstreet Piqua, Readmore’s Hallmark and the Allisten Manor’s Flower Box. Light refreshments will be provided at each home on the tour. The Rodriguezes will serve Christmas figgy pudding.
Proceeds from the tour will be earmarked for signage identifying a number of the historic homes to include the name of the original owner and date the house was built.
Committee member Don Smith said the tour’s purpose is to highlight homes within the district that have particular significance in Piqua’s history. The Piqua-Caldwell District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and encompasses areas on North Main Street, Wayne Street, Downing Street and West Ash Street.
George Henry Rundle, a manufacturer of a patent medicine known as Porter’s Pain King, built the first Piqua English Tudor Revival home at 400 N. Downing, along with a carriage house in 1908. This home features such architectural elements as a deeply pitched clay tile roof with gabled twin peaks, first-floor brick with broad decorative half-timbering filled in with painted stucco on the second and third floors, a prominent porch with brick column supports, and six-over-one double-hung sash windows.
The house incorporates 5,300 square feet of living space with a full basement and attic, while the adjacent carriage house has 2,100 square feet of living space with a half-basement. Contractor Airhart Fry and Architects Marriott & Allen of Columbus and H.E Whitlock of Piqua built the home for $16,000 and carriage house for $4,000. Rundle — known to his friends as Henry — was attracted to modern amenities and this particular home was built to include an in-house vacuum system, heated floors, a heated driveway, an in-home servant call system and floor switches in the living and dining rooms that could be used to discreetly call for service when entertaining.
Included in the two-and-a-half story home are 18 rooms, six fireplaces, two full baths, a new laundry room and basement including one finished and six unfinished rooms with an additional half-bath. With construction starting in 1906 and concluding in 1908, automobiles became available for purchase and as a result, there were no horses ever stabled in the carriage house.
Throughout the years, the house also has been referred to as the Wellmeier House as Dr. Hugh Wellmeier, local pediatrician, and his wife, Helen, a journalist, lived there following their marriage until 1960. Helen is George H. Rundle’s granddaughter and authored a book,“Sissy,” which makes myriad references to the property.
The Rodriguezes purchased the home in 2000 and have lovingly been restoring it room by room to its original mint condition. While they have been completing the majority of the work themselves, they said, “The project is a labor of love that requires time and patience,” and they continue to bring the home back to life one project at a time.
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