Address: 221 Kokosing Drive
Architectural Style: Tudor Revival; Gothic Revival; Italianate
Year Built: 1864
Architect/Builder: William Tinsley, architect; William Fish, builder
Original Owner: Gregory Thurston Bedell

This property was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 19, 1985, prepared by Galbraith M. Crump.

Noted Midwestern architect William Tinsley designed and built Kokosing House as an office for Bishop Gregory Thurston Bedell, third Episcopal Bishop of Ohio, in 1864.  Bishop Bedell was born in 1817 in Hudson, New York.  In 1836, he attended Bristol College, and graduated from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1840.  Bedell was ordained as a deacon later that year by Bishop Richard Channing Moore, a great-uncle.  The following year, in 1841, his great-uncle ordained him, this time time as a priest.  Bedell served as rector of the Church of the Ascension in New York City beginning in 1843, and two years later married his wife, Julia Strong.  He moved to Gambier in 1859, at the time the seat of the Episcopalian Diocese, to serve as Dean of the Bexley Hall seminary.  It was during his early years Soon after arriving he was elevated to assistant Bishop of Ohio.  He became third Bishop of Ohio in 1873, succeeding Bishop Charles McIlvaine.  One of Bedell's lasting legacy's is the college chapel, Church of the Holy Spirit, which was built in 1871 and constructed using funds donated by Bedell's former parishioners of the New York Church of the Ascension.

Architect William Tinsley was born on February 7, 1804 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, and descended from a long line of architects.  He immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and children in 1851.  Tinsley had a strong presence in Knox County.  His first commission in the area was for Ascension Hall for Bishop Philander Chase, founder and president of Kenyon College.  Construction on Ascension Hall began in 1857, and was completed in 1859.  A few years later in 1864, Tinsley was commissioned by Kenyon College again to build this house, named Kokosing House, for Bishop Bedell.  Other buildings designed by Tinsley include the Knox County Infirmary (1875-1877), a couple of homes in Mount Vernon (including the Potwin House), and he most likely designed Quarry Chapel (1862).

Bishop Bedell required that only local workmen, under direction of local stonemason and contractor William Fish, would be used in building Kokosing House.  Bedell wished "to prove to his friends in the East that a fine house could be built by local people."  He and his wife lived in Kokosing House for almost 25 years, and as the grandest home in the village, Kokosing House was the center of Gambier's social activity.  They entertained everyone from professors of Kenyon College, its students, and the general population of the village.  In July 1891, Bishop Bedell presented the house to Kenyon College, including the entire contents of the house, everything on what was then 25 acres of property, and funds to defray taxes and costs of upkeep.  Bedell wished that the house were to be used as the college's president's house, but this idea was put aside because of the distance of the house from the main campus.

Instead, Kokosing House was leased to the Episcopal Church and served as a summer retreat until 1936.  The house hosted a number of prominent faculty members and visiting dignitaries, including writer Robert Penn Warren, who wrote the film script of "All the King's Men" while staying in the house.  Kenyon College sold the property to private owners in 1971.

Kokosing House is a multi-gable two story house with a steeply pitched roof covered with purple slate shingles.  Built of locally quarried, rough faced sandstone, the house is a conglomeration of several different styles, a hallmark of many of William Tinsley's designs.  The predominant architectural elements are Gothic Revival, Tudor Revival, and Italianate.  The steep gables, with bargeboard are iconic of the Gothic Revival cottage style, while the wide, tall, ornamental stone chimneys, grouped windows with thick stone mullions, and dormer windows are more in line with Tudor Revival.  Italianate features include round arched windows and porches, and a tall bay window extending from the southern face of the home..  An interesting feature of Kokosing House is an oval window in the southeast corner of the house, piercing the diagonal wall off of the main floor.  This feature is only known to exist in one other home designed by Tinsley.

The interior of the home, also designed by Tinsley, features an oak paneled study with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and recessed niches in the walls.  Many of these niches still retain the Diocesan labels that was applied by one of the bishops to live in the house.  There are a total of eight fireplaces, all of which are still functional.  Each mantel is hand carved from a different type of wood, including oak, mahogany, and rose.  The fireplace in the entry hall bears the name "Kokosing," the Bishop Bedell's initials, and the date 1864.

 


 

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