In 1808, when our national government was hardly in its teens, and Ohio was only half that old, Dr. Peter Allen moved from New England to the frontier town of Kinsman. Arriving with a black bag filled with herbs and leeches, he soon sought to embrace new scientific advances, helping to found what would become the Ohio Medical Society.
In 1821, Allen hired the architect-builder, Willis Smith, from Oxford, Connecticut. The Allen House would be Smith’s most remarkable architectural accomplishment, a crowning jewel of Federal Neo-Classical architecture in the Ohio Western Reserve territory. Smith used wood rather than brick or stone to realizing the elaborate detail that he sought.
Peter’s son, Dudley, born in the grand home, also became a doctor and practiced with his father. Dudley’s son, Dudley Peter, was also born in the house. In 1865, when Dudley Peter was 13, his parents decided to move so their son could attend preparatory school and eventually Oberlin College. Dudley Peter Allen would go on to become a noted surgeon in Cleveland. The Allens’ sold the house to the Plant family who would hold the home for two generations without altering it.
After Dudley Peter married Elisabeth Severance, they returned to the home in 1903 and purchased the parlor’s woodwork in order to install it in Glenallen, their Cleveland home. Having seen so many fine homes in Cleveland degraded to boarding houses after their owners passed, the couple stipulated in their will that their home is razed upon their death. Visiting the site during its destruction in 1944, Western Reserve Historical Society President Laurence Norton, knowing its history, salvaged the woodwork and stored it. In the 1950’s, local resident Alice Blaemire delighting in the original condition and elaborate detail purchased the Allen House and opened it for private dinners. However, she was distressed over the absence of the original parlor woodwork so she pursued its return.
Inviting Norton to visit her home, we might imagine that he was plied with her famous pie and moved by her enthusiasm. He left determined that the woodwork would return to its rightful place. Blaemire lived in the house until her death and the house remained vacant for several years.
In 2010, area resident Richard Thompson already had dedicated himself to preserving the community’s heritage and farmland. Realizing the architectural importance of the house, the significant contributions of the Allen family to the field of medicine and the architectural genius of the builder, Thompson decided to take the enormous step to save the house for posterity. The Richard and Rhonda Thompson Foundation was created to restore historic buildings and the Allen House selected as a primary project.
The Thompsons decided the house needed a purpose beyond that of a museum. Wishing to preserve the home’s historic heritage, they meticulously restored its rooms—mixing in only enough modern furnishings to allow for a guest’s comfortable stay as a bed and breakfast. They then expanded its potential use by adding a kitchen, conference and banquet room, tavern and gardens. The Peter Allen Inn and Event Center opened officially on February 3, 2016.