525 East College, 1876
The younger of two surviving brick mansard houses in Oberlin, this place was built in 1875 [or 1876] for 26-year -old Flavius Hart, one of Oberlin's more affluent merchants. His father, Sylvester Hart, ranked among the 20 richest men in the village in the 1860s. Flavius attended the college preparatory department in the late sixties, and a decade later was running a feed and cider mill on the land next to his house. Later he opened a small furniture factory on what is now South Park Street, with a retail outlet on South Main next to the Union School House. Like many other nineteenth-century furniture dealers he also ran a sideline in undertaking.
Hart was a Democrat, an oddity among Oberlin businessmen. When the Democrats came to power in Washington under Grover Cleveland in 1885 for the first time since the Civil War, a long search got underway for a respectable local member of the party who might serve as village postmaster. Cleveland finally named Hart in 1894. Fulfilled by four years at this post, Hart retired at age 50 to farm the land around his house until his death in 1918.