Photo of the Russell-Cooper House on 115 East Gambier Street in Mount Vernon, Ohio in Summer of 2013. History of the house is that Dr. John Wadhams Russell, M. D. was a noted physician and surgeon. He was raised in Litchfield County, Connecticut and studied at Hamilton College beginning in 1821. Russell went on to graduate from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1827 and moved to Ohio where he practiced medicine in Mount Vernon for sixty years. After incurring a knee injury while on horseback, Russell was often seen visiting patients across Knox and adjoining counties by means of a mule-drawn carriage. In 1852 Russell hired Dr. Jane Payne, becoming the first American to employ a female physician.
John’s daughter, Eliza Russell, married a man by the name of Col. William Cooper in January 1864. Born in Mount Vernon in 1832, Cooper enlisted in the Fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the outbreak of the American Civil War and reentered in 1864 as Colonel of the One Hundred and Forty-Second Regiment. Cooper was elected Mayor of Mount Vernon in 1860 and served two terms, as well as served six years as president of Mount Vernon’s Board of Education. He was a lawyer at his own firm Cooper, Porter & Mitchell, a U.S. Congressman, and an Ohio Adjutant General.
This large-frame house boasts gaudy embellishments, which make it a particularly striking structure in the district if not one of the most iconic buildings in Knox County. The original structure is one of the oldest on East Gambier Street (ca. 1830), but it was extensively remodeled in the 1880s. The house has a five-bay façade with a two story wing to the rear; columns with incised decorations and ornate finials rise from the ground at the structure's front corners to above the wooden balustrade along the roofline. The entrance porch roof is supported by four smaller columns of similar design. The frieze is paneled and decorated and the cornice is supported by paired brackets. Remains of a Federal doorway are shown by a fan-shaped window located over the entrance door. Original remodeling placed a round window in the gable of the façade, later changed to a simple fanlight after 1910.