2210 Robinwood Avenue
Designed by Brown, Burton & Davis of Cincinnati and built on a half-acre lot in 1901 for Alvin B. Tillinghast, a powdered licorice tycoon and patron of the arts, this remarkable space proudly eschews any comparison. Featuring immense dimensions, medieval details, and the Tillinghast coat-of-arms carved in stone, the designers created a unique impression by combining stonework with a half-timbered Tudor style, a French mansard roof, and French Gothic dormers. The result is a remarkably eclectic, one-of-a-kind Chateauesque-style that stands out on a prominent corner lot in Toledo's Old West End Historic District.
As the story goes, Alvin Tillinghast enjoyed guiding the construction of this magnificent home during regular visits to the building site. He was a stickler for detail and scrutinized all aspects of the build. However, despite his apparent wealth and deep involvement in the design and construction of the home, Mr. Tillinghast returned this property to the construction company. The construction company, in turn, traded the house for 12 Pope automobiles in 1909 to one of Toledo's great automotive industrialists, John North Willys, the founder of the Willys-Overland Motor Company.
Shortly after taking possession, Willys brought in Mills, Rhines, Bellman and Nordhoff to design renovations and additions he ordered between 1913 and 1915, including the enclosure of the spacious front porch. Willys lived here until 1921, and then this elegant home was sold to Arthur Bell, a well-known figure in local bond and investment circles. In 1938, this distinctive mansion became the Toledo Mission House for the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, serving as a home base for traveling priests until 1978. More owners came and left over the next 40-plus years. Today, this nine-bedroom, 8,300 square foot home is the residence of the Mishler family. You can follow their homeownership adventures at www.midlifecrisismansion.net.
After more than a century, this remarkable space still has much to offer besides an architectural design that embraces nineteenth-century eclecticism and a fascinating succession of owners. Beyond the ostentatious exterior, the inside of this estate boasts a mahogany-trimmed foyer with a gold-leafed ceiling leading to a massive living room and a beautiful grand staircase, both highlighted by quarter sawn oak. The spectacular dining room features ornately carved chestnut woodwork and an original, hand-carved chandelier. The library includes the original wainscoting and the kitchen has been renovated with all new cabinets designed to match the existing cabinets in the cook's and butler's pantry. A vast master suite highlights the second floor and the third floor includes a chapel and staff quarters. At more than 3,200 square feet, the basement is enormous.
When Alvin Tilinghast decided on a motto to augment the family crest on the south side of his estate, he chose, "Be just, and fear not" from Shakespeare's Henry VIII. Looking back more than 100 years, it is clear Mr. Tillinghast feared nothing when he built this magnificent home.