Sitting on the southwest corner of Church and State Streets for one hundred and seventy-two years is the Henry True Home. This lovely Gothic Revival style brick home with its steeply-pitched roof, decorative gable, pretty flower borders, and white picketed fence adds a sense of charm to the edge of Marion’s downtown. This is just one of the reasons the Henry True Home has been recognized as one of the 2020 MarionMade! Celebrate Marion honorees, in the Places category.
The home was the residence of actually three different Henry Trues. The first was Dr. Henry True who practiced medicine in New York City before moving to Marion in 1839. Along with his friend James Reed, they saw a need for a bank in Marion. The two became co-founders of the Marion County Bank (now the Union Bank Company), Marion’s first bank, and one of the four oldest in Ohio.
Dr. True married James Reed’s sister and built this home, where his son Henry (Harry) True, was born in 1848. Harry True was a druggist (what we know today as a pharmacist) and was also active with the Marion County Bank, serving as President at the time of his death in 1906. Harry True married Flora Bowen in 1876, the daughter of Judge Ozias Bowen, who built what is now the Stengel True Museum/Marion Community Foundation office.
Harry and Flora had one son, Henry A. True, born in 1879. Henry A. True graduated from Princeton University as Valedictorian of his class. He had planned to start a career as a professor at Princeton when his father became ill. Henry A. returned to Marion to help his father and mother. Henry stayed in Marion, where he was a banker, serving as vice president and the largest shareholder of the Marion County Bank (now part of Chase Bank) and director of the Home Federal Savings & Loan Association. He supported dozens of causes, charities, churches, and civic enterprises in Marion County. Henry A. True lived in this home until his death in 1964.
In his Last Will and Testament, he established a trust and requested his home be as he said, “carefully preserved without material alteration, as a type of the architecture of the period in which it was built, in which shall be kept all such furniture, curiosities, objects and articles of interest belonging to me.”
With his degree in literature and avid love of reading, Henry amassed a collection of more than 13,000 books in his personal library. At the time of his death, it was one of the largest private libraries in Ohio and is preserved in the Henry True Home. The bookcases in the library, which reach the ceiling, contain a small portion of his extensive library.
Henry also loved travel all over the world. His favorite place was London, where he went several times. He would also bring treasures from these visits home.
The thirteen-room home is filled with antique pieces from Marion’s earlier days, including furniture from the Kowalke Chair Factory of Marion and portraits and photos of Marion’s early founders like Eber Baker, James Reed, Judge Ozias Bowen, and of the three Henry Trues. There are furniture styles that include Hepplewhite, Chippendale, Empire, Windsor, and Victorian pieces throughout the home.
The rooms have quaint names, not often heard today, like the parlor, sitting and music rooms, and the library. Despite it looking deceptively small the home has four bedrooms, with beds that have style names like, spool, rope, and sleigh. In the entrance hall is the Grandfather clock which belonged to Eber Baker and carved cathedral-type side chair, dating back to 1753. It is truly a home that tells Marion’s early history.
Today, more than fifty-five years after his death, the Henry True Home is maintained, as it was when he lived there and is available for private tours.
It is a step back to Marion’s past, making it worth recognizing as one of Marion treasures and a 2020 Celebrate Marion honoree.