Diamond St., one of Mansfield's original thoroughfares, is undergoing a drastic face-lift.
When the new city building is ready, hopefully within two or three years, Diamond St. will be the address of the city and county governments and the Federal building and post office. The county government has operated from Diamond St. for a little more than a century, but the city is a newcomer. Mansfield's post office once was at North Park and Diamond Sts.
In Mansfield's early years Diamond St. was known as East Diamond. Our present Main St. was West Diamond. When the town was platted in 1808 Diamond St. reached only from Temple Court on the North to Newlon Place on the south. In 166 years since then the street has stretched far to the north and south.
Diamond St. has seen a great deal of action since Mansfield was founded. Soldiers pitched their tents in the street at the east side of Central Park during the War of 1812.
A little earlier, an Irishman named Stephen Curran chased a large black bear down South Diamond St. from the park after the bear had dined on Curran's lunch. Curran had been making clapboards near the Big Spring on East Fourth St. , leaving his lunch basket on a stump. The bear moved in and Curran gave chase to Central Park , losing the bear in the woods which reached the park on all sides.
The 2,000 soldiers who were encamped at the park in the war with the British and Indians helped to clear away the trees so cabins could be built. When sanitary conditions became impossible at the east side of the park, the men moved to the west side in the vicinity of North Main and Walnut Sts.
South Diamond St. once was home to two of Mansfield's more famous residents. Mansfield H. Gilkison, the first make white child born here and later the town marshal, lived on South Diamond between Arch and Flint Sts. in the 1850s and died at 68 South Diamond.
John Peter Altgeld, the German boy who fled his father's Richland County farm to attend school in Mansfield and later to become governor of Illinois , lived for a time over the Ritter Carpenter Shop at Second and Diamond Sts. Altgeld taught briefly at the Woodville School . As Illinois governor he touched off a storm of protest when he pardoned three men who had been sentenced because of their part in the Haymarket riots in Chicago in 1886.
North Diamond St. may have been the site of Mansfield's first school building. Gilkison, who lived on South Diamond, said he remembered a small frame school on the west side of North Diamond between Third and Forth Sts. The school apparently was across Dickson Ave. from the present Ingram automobile agency.
Many years later in the 19th century a grade school was turned into a normal school at South Diamond and Flint Sts. The school, which trained teachers, was in operation for a few years in the 1880s.
The Third and Diamond Sts. corner was a busy one for several decades when the interurban station and then the union bus terminal were located there.
Many Mansfielders will remember when three hotels operated within a stone's throw of the traction and bus station. The Fairview was just across the street where the city parking garage is located now.
Across Diamond St. from the old bus depot and a little to the north was the Adelphis Hotel. It was there until around 1960. To the north, at the southwest corner of Fourth and Diamond Sts. was the Brunswick Hotel, at one time a leading hotel.
Diamond St. has been the address of at least two funeral homes. Schroer's was a landmark on North Diamond between Fourth and Fifth Sts. for years. The funeral home was dropped in the 1930s and the business continued as a furniture store.
The Wappner Funeral Home has been on South Diamond since 1918. It first was at the southeast corner of Second and Diamond and then in 1926 it was moved to its present site. The first funeral home there was in the former residence of Peter Remy.
The Remy name has long been a familiar one on Diamond St. The late Albert F. Remy opened a fruit and vegetable business in 1885 on the west side of North Diamond near the Erie Railroad.
A fire damaged that building, Robert C. Remy, the founder's son, recalled, and a new building was erected on the opposite side of the street. The firm has been there since then and it may be the oldest on Diamond St .
While the Ohio Brass Co, was started in a small building on North Main St. the plant for years has been across the railroad tracks from the end of North Diamond St .
Another major Mansfield industry, the Aultman and Taylor Co., was in the same area. Still another of Mansfield 's larger industries, the Mansfield Machine Works, was on North Diamond near the Aultman and Taylor plant. The Machine Works at one time was in the farm equipment business. Many years ago thee was a buggy works in that section of the city.
While Diamond St. has been the home of a great variety of businesses, it never approached Main St. as a retail street. Much of South Diamond beyond East First St. was residential until fairly recent times, but now businesses are scattered along the street.
In the downtown section of Diamond, the Zellner name was a familiar one for several generations. The name belonged to a harness shop which was on the west side of North Diamond between Dickson Ave. and East Fourth Sts. The shop continued to deal in leather goods after the automobile replaced the horse and buggy. One of the members of the family was the late Fred R. Zellner who was county clerk in the 1930s.
Other familiar Diamond St. names are the Wagner Hardware and the Hartman Electrical Manufacturing Co., neighbors in the vicinity of North Diamond and East Fifth Sts., Tracy and Avery, Ingram Olds and Hursh Drugs.
Diamond St. was never a Great White Way . It had no opera house or major theater although two or three early movie houses were near Diamond on East Third and Fourth Sts. The Park Theater, which had a short life as an entertainment center, was on South Park St. at Diamond.
On that same location stood one of Mansfield's first large churches. It was built in the 1820s by the Presbyterian denomination and wound up as a garage in the 1930s.
Diamond St. has been the address of several other churches through the years. One of the oldest is the First United Methodist Church , a landmark across from Central Park . There was a smaller church building at South Diamond and East Second Sts. until the county acquired the site for the new courthouse. That church at various times was the home of Believers in Christ and the Apostolic Christian denomination.
The Temple of Faith Church of God in Christ is on the west side of North Diamond near Sixth St .
There has been a dairy plant on South Diamond near First St. for as long as most modern Mansfielders can remember. The Levering Dairy occupied the site for a number of years and now the Borden plant is located there.
Laundries, taverns, taxi firms, garages, auto agencies, and other businesses found in a modern city have called Diamond St. their home. Franks' Brewery was at 110 North Diamond in the early 1900s.
Much of the city's Italian population was in the North Diamond and East Sixth St. area 40 years ago, but the descendants of those people have pretty much scattered to other parts of the city since then.
The IOOF lodge, a longtime occupant of one of the larger buildings on North Diamond across from the park, only recently vacated that site to make way for the new city hall plaza.
Nearby is the Ford Apartment building, an ornate structure which has been a part of the Central Park scene. It will be razed along with the IOOF hall.
A former Mansfielder who returns for a visit in a couple of years might not recognize Diamond St. as the one he knew as a boy. [News Journal (Mansfield, Ohio) September 1, 1974 - Submitted by Ida Maack Recu]