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Celebrating 175 years of the Scott House

Lead Summary
Steve Roush-
Ladies and gentlemen, when we chatted last time, the topic of conversation focused on the Highland House, a landmark in Hillsboro that has reached its 175th anniversary this year. Now, let’s get back to the Scott House, also celebrating 175 years in 2019.

As we mentioned earlier, much of the following comes from research from Jean Wallis, Bob Hodson and John Kellis, members of the Highland County Historical Society, which owns both the Scott House and Highland House Museum.

If you’ll recall, the Scott House was completed circa 1844 by Hillsboro attorney William Scott. The architect of the Federal and Georgian home, as speculated by many, was Christopher Arthur, well- known as the architect of the Highland County Courthouse.

The structure’s history is as interesting for its architectural elements as for the many uses over its 175-year journey. The mansion features an elegant widow’s walk surrounded by a wooden railing measuring 30 feet on each side. That portion of the roof features a cupola that provides access to the roof. The home for years was situated among a stately grove of trees that sat behind the gates and wrought iron fence along West Main Street. It was built in what was known as “Log Cabin Country,” even as it now looks out over the uptown areas of Hillsboro. One of the largest sweet gum trees around still stands at the west entrance of the property along West Main

William Scott was born on April 20, 1810 in Peterborough, N.H. The son of David Scott came to Ohio at the age of 3 with his parents to the Columbus area (Franklinton) in 1813. After the death of his mother and father, William graduated from Ohio University. Following in his father’s vocation, he was admitted to the bar in 1831. Later that year, he moved to Hillsboro to begin his law practice, where his only rival was John Winston Price.

Price became the common pleas judge from 1834-1841, and Scott was elected prosecuting attorney in 1837.

In 1843, William Scott married Elizabeth Jane Parsons of Columbus. Scott relocated his bride to Hillsboro, where they began construction of the brick mansion located at 338 W. Main St. There, William and Elizabeth lived and reared their two children, Samuel Parsons Scott and Jane Scott, until their deaths – William in 1886 and Elizabeth in 1908.

During their lives, the Scotts were leaders in Hillsboro’s social circles, and the mansion presented a fitting background for the parties and social functions in which the couple participated. A young boy once shared his memories of joining his father in delivering chickens to the Scott House and said that Mrs. Scott wanted the chickens to weigh no more than 1.5 pounds. He also remembered Mrs. Scott inviting them into the house to warm by the fireplace when it was particularly cold and conversing with them. The boy visited the stables to see the spirited horses.

The young boy was Albert “Bert” Wallis, father-in-law to local historian Jean Wallis. He also enjoyed the Carriage House and its four vehicles, one being an elaborate coach.

The Scott House has often been reputed to have been a part of the Underground Railroad. Though there is no documented proof, it is a known fact that William Scott was a devout abolitionist. Despite rumors, no tunnel between the two Scott homes on West Main Street has ever been located.

William Scott continued his profession for more than a half-century, and through careful habits and strict business principles he amassed a fortune unparalleled by any in Highland County at the time. Scott held an interest in the Citizens National Bank and served as its vice president. During the Civil War, Scott was appointed the provost marshal but soon resigned due to declining health. After the war, the state of Ohio organized the Ohio National Guard, and Highland County organized an infantry and a cavalry regiment in support of the guard. The Calvary regiment was named the Scott
Dragoons in honor of William Scott, who contributed generously to the regiment.

Let’s pause for now, and we’ll continue next time.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at

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