117 South Main, 1852
This sturdy house has weathered a lot of use, but clings to distinction in its massive Greek Revival doorway. James McWade, a prosperous blacksmith, built it in 1852. A native of Vermont, McWade was one of the many skilled craftsmen who clustered their shops on South Main Street in Oberlin's early decades. His Plum Creek smithy, located on the southeast corner of Main and Vine (then Mill), was a busy place in the 1850s. Over the next decade James and Mary McWade put three children through Oberlin College.
Later on, in the 1890s, their home was converted into a boardinghouse, a function it served well into the twentieth century. Along with its neighbors it was threatened by the rash of commercial strip development which broke out on South Main in the 1960s. Standing high on its old stone foundation, it has the look of a beleaguered veteran.