NILES, Ohio – With ornate carved American chestnut woodwork, patterned tile floors and cut-glass windows, a mansion at 547 S. Main Street in Niles reflects the wealth and opulence of another time.
The structure is being restored by Joshua Isley and his family as an event space with historical relevance.
Built in 1914, the mansion was the home of Margaretta Thomas Clingan, a philanthropist and a daughter of Margaret and John R. Thomas, the founder of the Niles Fire Brick Co.
She was a leader in improving the city of Niles, instrumental in the building of McKinley High School and the creation of Central Park, a donor to the Thomas Pavilion for band concerts and a proponent for the construction of the McKinley Memorial.
Following her death, her family donated the house in 1952 for the creation of a YMCA.
Isley said the YMCA built an addition on the back of the home – a gymnasium where the community could gather.
The Niles Historical Society notes that in 1984, the structure became a group home for the mentally disadvantaged, serving in that capacity for more than 35 years.
When Isley and his family, incorporated as the Von Isley Estate LLC, purchased the property late in 2021 for $298,000, the facility and its six acres had all seen better days.
The family history of the property is considerable and now, through this project, Isley’s family is adding its own story to it. He says his father wanted to be a big part of it, but he died between when they closed on the building in December and got started on the project in earnest in mid-April.
Since then, Isley has had to overcome obstacles big and small. Supply chain issues have slowed progress at times and Isley says they are always finding more things they want to do with the property.
But it was far enough along for the Niles Community Improvement Corp. to meet there the first week of September and get a sneak peek of the facility.
“I heard a lot of good adjectives, lots of ‘incredibles,’ and ‘spectaculars’ and ‘gorgeous’ and ‘amazing,’” Isley says, adding everyone seems to have stories and memories of the home.
He hopes it will be a place where new memories are made. The focus for the Von Isley Estates event center will be weddings, but he also wants to open it up to any kind of events, private parties, and meetings.
Isley hopes to begin taking bookings in October for January 2023.
There will be rooms for the bridal parties to get ready, the gymnasium addition will hold receptions, and a small number of the wedding party will have the opportunity to stay in the mansion following the big event.
With 25 years of wedding industry experience and an eye for the camera, Isley says he is always envisioning areas where people will want to take photographs.
“I’ve probably got 10 years of possibilities and dreams of projects I want to get done here,” Isley says. “There’s just so much possibility here it makes the imagination run wild.”
Pictured at top: The mansion will offer many locations for wedding photos.