A mansion on a hilltop perfectly describes Gross Mansion. The mere mention of its name brings instant recognition. While most know where it is, few know its history, or the history of the only family to call this “home”.
Born in 1868, Charles F. Gross began working at the age of twenty-one in the oil fields of Ohio, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. Charles saved his wages carefully, and began buying shares of The Hill Oil and Gas Company based in Columbus, Ohio.
This company had extensive holdings in Oklahoma and Texas, and Charles Gross of Cambridge had increased his holdings to one-fifth interest. The Cushing Field in Oklahoma consisted of 6,000 acres and produced 20,000 barrels of oil a day. When he sold his one-fifth interest in this field, Charles had money to purchase land and build a house.
Harriett, his wife, had her heart set on having the nicest house in Cambridge, and that is what Charles set out to accomplish. Charles had purchased a city block between Sixth and Seventh Streets in a strictly residential area.
The Gross Mansion, completed in 1921, was situated in a park-like setting. A winding carriage lane wove through a beautiful landscape of flowers and trees. Relaxing while working in the garden became one of Charles’ cherished times.
No cost was spared in the construction of this 12,000 square foot home with twenty-four rooms. Even today the beautiful tile floors, walnut paneling, carved stone fireplaces and beautiful stairway with carved newel posts exemplify the richness intended many years ago.
Stories are still told of the Gross family as many parties and weddings were held at the mansion. Trick or treaters that were brave enough to come to the door of the big house, were rewarded with a fifty cent piece.
Teachers at the 9th Street School, where Harriett was a student, had an annual dinner there served by the Gross family. It was a day the children remembered, not because of the mansion, but because when the teachers went for lunch, school was dismissed for the rest of the day.
Young Harriett also had the pleasure of owning a brown and white pony that she enjoyed riding inside that tall fence around the mansion. That high fence with spiked top is of special interest as it was constructed by the family to protect their only child. This happened right after the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and the Gross family feared that with their wealth gained from the oil fields, their daughter could be a possible target. They even had a hidden staircase installed in the house for easy escape.
A personal memory takes me back to days as a young child when my mother delivered fresh eggs and chickens, butchered that morning, to the Gross family. Mom let me carry a dozen eggs to the side door while she took the chickens. Dad waited patiently in the car.
While Charles Gross got his start in the oil fields, he became a very prominent member of the Cambridge community. In 1918, he was elected to the board of directors of The National Bank of Cambridge and served until his death in 1942. His funeral was held at the Gross Mansion.
Daughter Harriett was one of those who got married at the mansion when she wed Howell Bates, an ensign in the Navy. Later Harriett and Howell would be the ones to sell the mansion in 1958 to the Cambridge YMCA.
Gross Mansion still catches the eye of visitors to the city and makes them catch their breath as they view this beautiful home from nearly a hundred years ago. Chances are rare of building anything this grand again. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it would be returned to its former richness and impressive beauty?.
Recently, Dickens Victorian Village held a Victorian Funeral Experience in the mansion. Hopefullly, many other community events will take place in this beautiful spot soon.
How nice to see life at the mansion once again!
Gross Mansion is located between 6th and 7th Streets in Cambridge, Ohio. Once in town, head down 6th Street where parking is available in a lot across the street.
Comments on: "Gross Mansion in Cambridge, Ohio – House of Many Uses" (16)
A great story, Bev.
Thanks for stopping by again. That is a beautiful old home, which most of our generation remember as being home to the Y.
I enjoyed your tale of this mansion in Cambridge, Ohio very much.
I imagine every old house has an interesting story if we took the time to explore.
Very interesting. Hope they get this home ready for lots of visits. I’d sure like to see it!
Hopefully they will find a way to restore it to its former beauty and find a present day use for it.
AmazIng read! I grew up just a few blocks from here and never knew the history of this mansion. I can’t believe this fascinating story was lurking nearby. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! I am going to read more of your blog now.
The sad thing is that it is going on the auction block soon after attempts to turn it into a banquet/reception hall. I hope someone can save this mansion on the hilltop.
You’ve done it again, Bev…I love reading your blogs!
Thanks Cheri for taking a Gypsy Road Trip with me. I enjoy my adventures.
Wish I had known of the trick or treat back in the day. it would have been worth changing my route to include a stop there.
Sometimes we find out about some things too late, but it would have been a trick or treat to remember. That was an absolutely beautiful mansion during those early years.
Harriett or Hattie as my mother called her 2nd cousin, enjoyed mom’s blackberry pies. She was in an auto accident with adopted daughter & son-in-law which contributed to her death. She housed Donald Flood or may have adopted him also. She had many Bennett family relatives.
Thanks for sharing your information. Family history is always interesting. While I’m not familiar with the accident, I will post it and see if there are any further comments.
I just noticed this article on the Gross Mansion as I was wondering if it had been sold or torn down. Charles is my husband’s great uncle. His mother’s father was Charles’s brother, Ernest Gross (who my husband is named after.) My husband is Hugh Ernest (Ernie) Romine. As a child, his family spent Thanksgiving at the mansion with Uncle Charles and Aunt Hattie. I think a servant showed him the hidden staircase that led to a tunnel that ended up in the orchard. We visited the mansion while the Y still had it but weren’t allowed up on the floor that contained the staircase. He remembers it being in a bedroom. I do genealogy and have some of the Gross family history plus what has been handed down.
You mentioned the accident that took Harriet’s life. I have the original newspaper clipping if you would like a copy.
The Gross Mansion has been sold to a lady who is planning on fixing it back to its original state. She isn’t sure of her plans for the future yet, but we would certainly like for her to have some teas there so more people can see this beautiful mansion. I had heard about the staircase, but not where it was located or where it led. Thanks for the information. I do enjoy the history of our area so would be happy to have the copy of the newspaper article if you would send a copy to my email address, which is listed here, I believe.
I appreciate all the information.