The city of Mansfield is on the hunt for furniture, kitchenware, rugs, quilts and other antiques to furnish the Man House Museum.
The two-story, white house on West Broad Street was built by Mansfield co-founder Ralph Man in the mid-1860s and has had several owners over the century. Now, the plan is to convert it into a museum that gives a snapshot of life in post Civil War Mansfield.
“We are planning for the Man House Museum to be open to the public on Fridays and Saturdays and the museum will be available for anyone who wants to visit during open hours,” said Jessica Baber, museum manager for the Mansfield Historical Museum. “We will certainly welcome school groups and any other tour group that wants to come to the museum on those days or outside our normal operating hours by appointment.”
The house has been modified several times over the decades but the original log house remains, though the timber has stayed hidden under the walls for decades.
Phase 1 of the project, which includes renovating the house and the barn, will cost $411,000 and will be paid for by the city.
The museum, located at 604 W. Broad St., will be visible from the road while the heavily wooded land to the north will be the city’s first dog park, scheduled to open by the end of the year. The Man House Museum and dog park will share a parking lot.
The goal with the Man House is to give people a place where they can see, touch and smell Mansfield’s history and experience how the city’s pioneers lived 150 years ago.
Interim planning director Lisa Sudbury said the project will make Mansfield one of the few cities to have their founding father’s house restored for public viewing. The barn, which is a rare example of hand-hewn logs, will also be part of the tour.
“The architects call it a true gem,” Sudbury said.
The finished house will show how the house was expanded over the years and how it was constructed initially out of logs.
The city of Mansfield owns the house and will pay for the renovation and operation of the house. Last month, the City Council allocated $10,000 in additional hotel occupancy tax funds to the Mansfield Historical Museum that can be used to furnish the house.
Because the city took ownership of the building, the Mansfield Historical Museum doesn’t have to pay for insurance anymore. Instead, the museum will reallocate that $5,800 toward purchasing artifacts for the building.
Historically accurate pieces from the 1860s aren’t cheap — the bed alone cost about $1,000.
“We are looking at multiple options for purchasing these items from the 1860s,” Baber said. “Historic objects from this time period can be found in antique stores, online and in private collections, all of which we will explore to find the right pieces for our collection. We are also hoping to find people willing to donate or loan us items for the Man House Museum.”
Ralph S. Man built the original log cabin after the Civil War and added to it over the years with additional rooms and a second floor. Man and his brother-in-law, Julian Feild, built the first steam-powered grist mill in the city and their names were later combined to create Mansfeild, later changed to Mansfield.
The Man House will also connect to the future phase of the Walnut Creek Linear Park as it extends to the city’s west side. Mansfield recently purchased a 138-acre site on Hanks Street south of West Broad Street that will be a future parkland site.