Donn Piatt grew up in rural Ohio on land his father called Mack-O-Cheek from a local Indian word. He was a journalist, lawyer and secretary to the American legation in Paris. He dabbled in politics and got to know many of the prominent politicians of the times, including Lincoln. He joined the Union Army during the Civil War and rose through the ranks until he got in trouble by attempting enlist slaves. He resigned his commission and returned to Ohio, with his wife Louise. They began construction on a Gothic-style house in the country, but Louise died before it was completed.
A short time later, Donn married Louise’s sister, Ella, who had lived with the couple in Paris. They moved to Washington where Donn worked as a correspondent for a Cincinnati newspaper. His written attacks on politicians got him in constant hot water. He finally returned to Ohio and built a large chateau on the front of his former home where he lived until his death at 72 in 1891. He has been described as a gadfly, a person who prompts others to act by annoying them. And while he wasn’t a major player in history, he certainly hovered around the edges of many historical people and events.
His house is still owned by the Piatt family and is open for tours. We arrived a few minutes early and waited on the side of the road outside the gates.
The white portion in the back is the original house.
A young woman gave us a short talk on the family and then left us to our own devices. We wandered around the house, reading informative signs and hoping we didn’t fall through the floor. The place isn’t in very good repair. Walls are peeling, floors creak — a sign outside one room warned us not to enter because the floor wasn’t safe.
But it is impressive, with painted ceilings and walls and amazing woodwork. Very little of the furniture belonged to the family.
The room through the opening is the kitchen. I’m not sure what this room was.
The back stairs.
Ella’s sitting room. The contraption in the middle is a physical therapy device built to help Ella with leg paralysis brought on by a train accident. In time, she was able to walk with a cane.
The master bedroom, with Ella’s sitting room in the background.
I thought the large window from the master bedroom into the bathroom was an interesting touch.
The top, and bottom of the main staircase.
The next two photos are the guest bedroom. Note the alcove for the bed.
The second-floor hallway.
Another odd window, this one to cast light into a stairway.
Paintings in an upstairs bedroom.
Donn’s study. Note the built-in filing cabinet.
The dining room
The downstairs entrance hallway