McGuffey House Ownership History

The William Holmes McGuffey Museum stands on Outlot 9 in Oxford, which was sold to Robert Blair in 1810 at the first public sale of college lands at the Butler County courthouse. Blair forfeited the purchase, and the same year Merikin Bond of Cincinnati became the second owner. Bond built a small frame house on the northeast corner of the four-acre tract. The next owner was William Holmes McGuffey, who joined the Miami University faculty in 1826 at a salary of $600 a year.

In 1827, he married Harriet Spining of Dayton. In 1828, he paid Merikin Bond $350 for Outlot 9 and the house upon it. By 1833, McGuffey completed a two-story brick house of six rooms. The tax records show that in 1827, McGuffey owned a carriage and a horse. In 1834, he paid taxes on his new house, assessed at $1800. His carriage was assessed at $80. By this time, he was also being taxed on three cows and one horse. McGuffey left Miami University in 1836 to become president of Cincinnati College.

Professor T. J. Mathews was the next occupant of the house. There is no record of sale to him, but he paid taxes regularly on the house while he lived there. From 1839 to 1855, the property had been in the care of McGuffey's brother, Alexander, a Cincinnati attorney, who held the property in trust for McGuffey's children. Reuben E. Hills, an Oxford merchant, bought the house in February, 1855. In the same month and year he sold it to J. H. Shuey, who built the west wing.

In 1866, the house and two outlots (eight acres) were purchased by Joseph McCord, a contractor who had been engaged in doing fine cabinet work and trim on steamboats in Cincinnati shipyards. Joseph and his brother David built the handsome stairway in the northeast room, thus converting that room into a hall. They lengthened the front windows of the northwest room and added interior shutters. They replaced McGuffey's portico on the north by a porch extending across the house. What is now the McGuffey Library was Joseph McCord's office. Years later, the McCords closed one window in the west wall of their parlor to accommodate a new mahogany sofa upholstered in horsehair.

After Joseph's death, two of his children, Frank and Lizzie McCord, purchased the property. They continued to live there until 1883, when they moved to a new house on East Church Street. They did not record their deed to the Spring Street property until 1885. In 1903, the McCords sold the house and part of Outlot 9 to William A. Beard. The remaining part of the outlot was sold to Miami University in 1916.

1928 House

The McGuffey House in 1928, while owned by the Roudebush Family.

In 1923, Martha C. Beard became the owner of the house. Two years later she sold the house and northeast part of Outlot 9 to Wallace P. Roudebush (Miami, class of 1911). Roudebush was on the administrative staff of Miami University from 1911 to 1945, when he became Vice President: Finance. He was Vice President and Treasurer at the time of his death in 1956. Because of his devotion to Miami University, he was known to friends as "Mr. Miami." In 1958, Mrs. W. P. Roudebush sold the house and lot to Miami University. Restoration of the house was made possible by the bequest of Mrs. Emma Gould Blocker which set up a foundation in support of the McGuffey Museum and center of research for Ohio history. Mrs. Blocker died in 1958.

The essential structure remains the same as it was built by McGuffey, those additions and changes as noted above having been made by later owners. The east porch did exist during McGuffey's time, although in a somewhat simpler form and the upstairs portion was originally open rather than closed in by windows as it is now. The principal entrance to the house was originally from this east porch - with the present back stairway having a landing just beyond this entrance. There were an assortment of outbuildings and barns around the house complex which was typical of a 19th century house on the edge of a village.

As in any house that is lived in as a private home over a long period of years, changes have been made by various occupants. However, no basic changes have been made in altering room sizes. In restoring and refurbishing the house as it now is, no attempt was made to restore it to its original form but rather to maintain its character as a house that would have been lived in over a long period, which would mean some furnishings of a later date than 1833 when the McGuffeys moved in.

All of the downstairs woodwork in the front stair hall, living room, dining room and library was changed to conform to the Victorian taste of the 1860's. This was apparently done by Joseph McCord at the same time that the front porch was added and the new stairwell installed. It will be noted that most of the woodwork in the upstairs rooms is original to the house, as well as most of the simpler paneled doors. None of the hardware, however, is original - most of which also dates from the Victorian cast iron and china knob era. The only exposed original ash floor in the house is to be found in the upstairs back bedroom.

From 1999 through 2002, the house underwent a major renovation and conservation effort. The kitchen stairway, which had been changed since McGuffey's departure in 1836, was restored to its original position. A new entrance area was also added to the back of the house. This addition, although new, recreates a space that would have existed on the back of the house as the old porch.

Text by William E. Smith