no avatar

Miller's story an interesting one to follow

By HENRY TIMMAN • Jan 11, 2019 at 12:00 PM

In doing my research for last week’s story on the Perkins Block in Monroeville, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that that building had been designed by architect Charles Crosby Miller of Norwalk.

Miller had a long and interesting story, which started right here in northern Ohio.

Charles was a son of Charles R. and Ruth Crosby Miller, and was born in Springfield, Mass. in 1831. The family moved to Norwalk a few years later and established their home at what is now 111 W. Main St. The Miller house was moved to 10 S. Pleasant St. in 1872 when the present house was built. The Miller house was torn down a few years ago to enlarge the Pleasant Street School grounds.

The elder Charles Miller was a chair and cabinet maker while in Massachusetts and after he came to Norwalk established himself as a builder. He was the general contractor for the Female Seminary at 114 W. Main St. across the street from his own home. In 1845, he had built the oldest part of the house at 115 W. Main St., occupied so long by my friend, the late attorney Henry Young. Henry and I concluded informally that perhaps this was his workshop and the place where Charles Crosby Miller acquired some knowledge of construction and design.

Charles Crosby Miller attended the Norwalk Institute school for a time and from 1852 to 1854 studied under Cleveland architect John J. Husband. After a short time again in Norwalk, he moved to Tiffin where he designed their Union School building, which was built in 1856 and used until 1959.

From Tiffin, Miller moved to St. Louis, but the American Civil War ruined the economy there so he moved once again to Toledo where he designed a number of public buildings and churches. His final move was to Chicago just after the Great Fire of 1871, which probably gave him more business than he knew what to do with.

While living in Toledo as a partner of architect Marcus Cummings, the two published a book titled Architecture Designs of Street Fronts, Suburban Houses and Cottages. This book still is coveted by architects and is a frequent reference tool.

Architect Miller died in Winnetka, Ill., Jan. 25, 1902, after a long and productive career. No doubt we could track down a number of buildings in Chicago (and perhaps in Toledo) which he designed if we wanted to spend the time to do so. Miller was a cousin to Jonas Crosby who lived in Norwalk for many years and was a builder by trade. It’s very possible that Charles C. did some design work for Jonas, who built any number of houses here, including the Mack house at 166 W. Main St.; the Cortrite house at 141 E. Main St.; the Doud house at 82 W. Main St.; the Taber house at 81 W. Main St., along with the Manahan house at 165 W. Main St. He also was the contractor for the church at 79 E. Main St. Probably his toughest contract was to build the gallows in the second Huron County jail for the execution of Bennet Scop in 1870.

* * *

REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at New Directions Design, 20 W. Main St., in downtown Norwalk. These contain my earlier columns fully indexed and in permanent book form.

Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.

Norwalk Reflector Videos