History of the John Key Wilson Home
in Niles, Ohio
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John Key Wilson residence
as it appeared in 1874.
Order of Eagles - NILES #1476 was established as a not for profit
organization in 1898 in the United States of America. In 1998, the
Fraternal Order of Eagles, Aerie #1476 located on South Main Street
celebrated their 100th anniversary in Niles, Ohio. The planning
committee placed an article in the Niles Times requesting readers
to share photos, stories from the past and any memorabilia relating
to the Eagles # 1476.
From the “Pictorial History
of Niles”, published by the Niles Historical Society, Barbara
Gilmore recognized the house of John Key Wilson. Mr.
Wilson resided in the home at 316 South Main Street in 1874. He
was born in Scotland and later moved to Niles, Ohio. He married
Sarah Porter and had one daughter, Alice Wilson
who was born in 1878. Mr. Wilson died in 1888.
By comparing the photo and an early
picture taken of the Eagles building she realized it was the same
building. The roof structure was the same and the twin gables and
the copula were all the same.
A title search was started to verify
if it was the same building. After spending several days at the
Trumbull Court House Archives Department and the Warren Library
seeking information it was confirmed it was the same building. The
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map 1867-1970 and the Niles Census taken
in 1870-1880 were also very helpful.
In September 1919, the house was sold
to the Eagles, #1476 and an addition was added on to the back of
the house consisting of large ballroom upstairs and large social
Iron Bridge as it appeared in the 1913 Flood with the photograph
taken from approximately where the John Key Wilson residence was
located on the south side of the Mahoning River. P01.1016
This photograph with the large upper
and lower porches and back additions shows the new Eagles Building,
This photograph appeared in the
1834-1934 Niles Daily Times Centennial Edition.
The Viaduct Story.
The Mahoning River was spanned by many different types of bridges.
First a wooden covered bridge next an iron bridge which was supported
by a stone pier in the middle of the river. It was replaced by the
iron bridge when high water washed one side away. The “Iron
Bridge” built by Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown, in 1882
was replaced by the viaduct in 1933.
There had been two major floods of the Mahoning River(1901 and 1913)
where the waters flowed over the Iron Bridge. After experiencing
the 1913 flood, the South Side Improvement Club was formed to help
promote construction of a new since the south side was frequently
isolated from the rest of the city by the rising of the Mahoning
The Nile Bridge project was first suggested some
time prior to 1924. A consulting engineer was hired to estimate
the cost of the bridge and assist the county engineer is preparing
plans which were presented in 1926. Three prominent real estate
men were appointed to make an estimate of the damage to the adjoining
properties that in any way might be involved in the work of construction.
The general plans were approved and adopted in
1927 and a permit was secured from the War Department for the
construction of the bridge over the Mahoning River which was still
classified as a navigable stream. Notices were served upon the
property owners in April 1927 and they were notified to file their
claims. The total cost of the bridge construction and settlement
of property claims was $627,000.
Damage claims began to be submitted and when all were filed there
was a total of $$630,000 demanded by the property owners.
The Iron Bridge was a flat steel bridge which
spanned the Mahoning River. Main Street sloped down to the bridge
beginning at State Street and past Water Street. On the South
Side, First Street was level with the bridge. The buildings along
both sides of Main Street would either be destroyed or access
the new Viaduct with a higher entrance on the second floor. The
Eagles Building is a good example of the height change that would
occur in the viaduct construction.
On September 16, 1932 the first load of material
arrived for the construction of the Viaduct. On September 19,
work started on the temporary bridge and it was opened October
20th, at which time, this old iron bridge was torn down. The new
Viaduct was dedicated on October 28, 1933.
all over purpose of the Eagles is “People helping People”
and they have bound together throughout the years to help pave the
way for a better life for all citizens. Seven Presidents of the
United States have been associated with the Eagles organizations.
Supporting family values and strong
law enforcement, the local Eagles have collected thousands of dollars,
through the years donating to Spina Bifida, Homes for Kids, Mosquito
Creek Fishing Tournament and other needed projects.
Barbara Gilmore donated a detailed history of the Eagles
to the Niles Historical Society. It remains on view at the Ward-Thomas