By Amy Eddings
Jameson Manor is one of those standout, grand old homes that piques your curiosity as you drive by.
The tall, red brick home looms over its expansive lawn. Its wide, overhanging eaves, heavily-molded double wooden doors, side bay window and double-column front porch suggest the Victorian Italianate style that was popular during the Civil War.
It’s the kind of place that, viewed from the curb, makes you wish you could see inside it, too.
Soon, you’ll be able to.
Owner Shannon Wannamacher has turned Jameson Manor into an alternative event space. She sees her 2,690-square-foot, five-room mansion as the perfect place for a party, reception or family reunion. She wants to share her home with all of Lima.
“I felt this was something the community needed to enjoy,” she said of 1028 W. Market St.
The house was built in 1879 on land owned by lawyer and real estate developer George Jameson. He also owned surrounding properties up and down West Market Street in what would become the backbone of Lima’s social scene and growing merchant class.
Wannamacher said although Jameson owned the house, he was a true developer and never lived in it. He wasn’t even the home’s most noteworthy owner. That was the Boose family, which lived in the home from 1910 to 1995.
“It was hard not to name the home after them, knowing that history,” Wannamacher said. “But what I wanted was to honor George Jameson’s vision for the community. It was progressive for the time. It reflected what was happening in Lima at that time. It was a time of opportunity and great promise.”
She believes there’s opportunity and promise to be had in Lima again today, beginning with homes like hers near the urban core that she was able to purchase for just $137,000.
“Living in the city, there’s this negative perception, ‘Oh, aren’t you concerned for your safety?’” she said. “I don’t think that that’s a fair assessment of the city of Lima. With this property, I just want people to come, have a great experience, appreciate the beauty of these historic properties and feel like, ‘Maybe I could live in the city. What a steal these properties are.’”
The 26-year-old Lima native could have gone somewhere else to live and work. She graduated from Fordham University in the Bronx, in New York City, in 2012 with a marketing degree and a fistful of career opportunities.
“(Public relations) at UBS Financial, NBC Universal. … I felt like I could have stayed,” she said.
Then, her sweetheart, Andy Wannamacher, proposed — and all signs pointed home to Lima.
“We made the commitment to place our roots in this community and make it the best that we can,” she said. “New York is already fabulous. Lima is fabulous, too, and I just want people to see that.”
Like any old home, there’s still work to be done on the house. Wannamacher will add a staircase from the second floor terrace into the backyard, to comply with Lima’s fire code. She wants to pave the private parking lot. She also wants to transform the two-car attached brick garage into an all-weather event space, with two wheelchair-accessible restrooms and a lift.
“The city has kindly asked me to stop holding events until I’m up to code,” she said with a chuckle. “I can appreciate that.”
Bill Brown, Lima’s chief building official, said Wannamacher’s love of 1028 W. Market St. is an asset to the community.
“It’s important to preserve houses of that nature because there’s so few of them left,“ he said. “They have a lot of historical character.”
A new chapter in the old home’s history is being written, now that Shannon Wannamacher is its caretaker. And, if she has her way, a new sense of what’s possible could be sparked, transforming Lima in the same way that George Jameson did when he bought up farmland for a community that no one could imagine at the time.
“There’s so much that I want people to see and feel,” Wannamacher said. “I want to change perceptions and I want … I just want a lot.”
Address: 1028 W. Market St., Lima, OH 45805