Address: 209 Chase Avenue
Architectural Style: Italianate
Year Built: c. 1860
Architect/Builder: Unknown
Original Owner: Unknown

Professor Edward C. Benson was born on April 26, 1823 in Thorne, Yorkshire, England.  Both his father and his grandfather were barristers of that parish.  The Benson family settled in Peoria, Illinois in 1832.  At the age of 17, Edward began his studies at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois in 1840.  He taught a single term of public school immediately following his freshman year before moving to West Baton Rouge, Louisiana as a private tutor to wealthy plantation families.  Benson returned north in 1846 to attend Kenyon College, where he graduated after three years as the Class of 1849 valedictorian, holding a bachelor's degree.  He remained in Gambier the following year to tutor students in Latin while he studied Theology at Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary, located on the Kenyon College campus.  Bishop McIlvaine ordained Benson in 1853, and he married Sarah White, daughter of Mardenbro White, the following year.  Benson worked with Reverend Dr. Alfred Blake between 1851 and 1867 to establish Harcourt School for the parish, after which he was elected Professor of Latin, Greek, language, and literature at Kenyon College, a position he held for 31 years until his health began to fail.  He became professor emeritus in 1898, and continued to live in this home until his death in 1902.

This large two-story Italianate house has tall double windows on all sides.  In addition to the low hip roof, a series of small cornice brackets tucked high beneath the eaves gives this house its distinctive Italianate character.  It is possible that this house once had a cupola rising from the center of the roof, but that has has since been removed.  A narrow two-story square bay projects from the east northern and southern sides that are most likely original, or very early additions to the house.  The front porch with its smooth Tuscan columns was added sometime in the 20th century.



Gambier District

District Properties