|Address:||107-111 South Main Street|
|Architectural Style:||Gothic Revival|
|Year Built:||c. 1884, c. 1940s|
|Original Owner:||Colonel George Rogers (heirs)|
The Cooper Building was constructed and owned by Charles Gray "C. G. " Cooper, of the locally prominent Cooper family, as Trustee to the late Colonel George Rogers, of Civil War fame. The Coopers owned a local industrial firm, which primarily manufactured steam engines. The building was located adjacent to the Woodward Opera House. Construction began around 1884 in the Gothic Revival style, to primarily serve commercial purposes, with some spaces reserved for residential use.
George Rogers enlisted in the local volunteer infantry in 1861, and later that year he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant of Company B, 4th Ohio volunteer infantry. Three months later, he was instrumental in raising nearly 150 volunteers from Mount Vernon and the surrounding area, and served as Captain of Company B from 1861 to 1863, when he resigned from service. Not long after, however, President Lincoln called upon him to lead the "colored troops" as Lieutenant Colonel for the United States Army 4th Regiment. Rogers held this position until the close of the Civil War, and was ultimately commissioned Brevet Colonel and Brevet Brigadier General in honor of his meritorious conduct in the field. Some of the highlights of his military career include taking part in the assault on Petersburg, as well as the Fort Fisher expedition.
When Rogers returned to Mount Vernon, he renewed his partnership with Charles "C. G." Cooper, of the locally prominent Cooper family. Rogers bought a one-third interest in the Kokosing Iron Works, which shortly joined the C. & G. Cooper Company. During his time with the C. & C. Cooper Company, Rogers invented and patented an improvement in traction wheels, dated October 6, 1875. Prior to his invention, it was difficult to move traction engines from one location to another without upsetting the boiler, a disastrous event. He created bevel gears that were placed on the front and back wheels, which made it possible to raise the front end of the engine where the boiler is located, thus eliminating any unnecessary weight on the wheels and making it easier to move the engines over uneven terrain. More importantly, however, Rogers's design allowed the power from the engine's crank shaft to be directly transferred to the rear wheels, creating the first truly self-propelled tractor in the United States. Colonel Rogers was not only business partners with C. G. Cooper, but he also married Cooper's sister, Mary.
Dr. Alonzo S. Condit, a prominent local dentist, occupied the southeast corner office of this building. He graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery of Cincinnati. His specialty was creating porcelain and gold crowns, but his greatest accomplishment was inventing the removable bridge, revolutionizing the dental profession. His method was the first to secure partial sets of teeth in the mouth without having to use an entire plate or full dentures. Dr. Condit's method also accommodated for the natural shifting of teeth, which created a far more comfortable experience for his patients. This patent was received on October 8, 1895. Dr. Condit died in 1909, suffering a stroke of paralysis while in his office at the age of 61. He had been practicing dentistry for 35 years.
Rogers bought the property on which the existing structure currently stands in 1882, for the purpose of constructing a new mercantile building. The previous wood-frame buildings were in extreme disrepair and deemed valueless. Colonel Rogers died before the construction of his building even began. In his will, Rogers made his brother-in-law and business partner, C. G. Cooper, Trustee of his estate and guardian of his wife and daughter. When construction of the current building began in 1884, it was completed approximately a year later under the direction of Cooper, hence the dual name of the building as the Cooper Building and the Rogers Block, sometimes referred to as Rogers Arcade. Both names were used concurrently even in historical documents, based on the preference of the individual. The Gothic Revival design is a unique style to downtown Mount Vernon. Black-painted brick and white stone accentuate the pointed arch lintels over the lancet windows in the 2nd and 3rd stories. The two outer bays each possess a large oriel window projecting from the 2nd story. The conical caps of the oriel windows extend the entire height of the 3rd story. Lancet windows are prominent features of the upper stories, and are grouped primarily in twos and threes. In historic photographs, three small gabled parapets and cornice dentils are present. These features were removed at an undetermined date, sometime in the late-1940s or early-1950s, due to structural damage caused by fire.