Reynoldsburg-Truro Historical Society © 2018
Nathan Orcutt, a cabinetmaker by trade, built Alexander’s house in 1864-1865.14 Orcutt and his wife Margaret I. Graham came here from New York in 1854 Orcutt was the finest of workmen, strict about the exactness of fit between two pieces of wood, keeping a keen edge on his tools, and leveling horizontally and vertically as he built. Livingston is said to have paid an extra $1.50 per 1,000 board feet over the regular lumber price so he could select siding free of knots. When Orcutt was done, the Livingston house had a “furniture finish. The rooms are remarkably light and airy for a house of the mid-Victorian era.
According to the original land deed, the land upon which the house stands was originally part of a 313-acre tract sold to John Logan and Daniel Easll in 1802. The original deed is signed by Thomas Jefferson. Through a succession of owners, the land ended up in the hands of James Graham, who died in 1843. At that time the estate had dwindled to 51 acres and was left in the hands of Margaret Graham, James’ widow. According to The History of Reynoldsburg, Alexander Livingston bought part of the land from Joseph and Henrietta Osborn, however. The land deed shows that Livingston had to battle in court for ownership of the land because of legal challenges from Margaret Graham.
Despite his fame as a seed merchant and tomato breeder, Livingston apparently went broke and had to sell the farm in 1877, however. In a tangled legal maze, many owners traded possession of the land. Robert and Mary Barb bought the house and 70 acres for $4,350 in 1878. Cora E. Barb’s name appears in the 1920s.
Madelon and Keith Seeds bought the house in 1944. The building does not look the same as it did in Alexander’s time. The original siding was clapboard; the surroundings looked pretty bare. In this century, owners added two porches, one facing Graham Road and the other Palmer. There remains a nicely crafted milk house with a shake roof and a stone cellar. The long shed, where it is speculated that Livingston employees sorted and packed seeds, blew down in a storm.
When the Seeds family bought the Livingston house, it was nearly unsalvageable. The house had no modern plumbing or electricity and no furnace. The Seeds modernized the house at great expense. Extensive repairs and remodeling were necessary. The original house had about seven bedrooms, some of which were very tiny, others of generous size. There was a pantry and a kitchen, and on the east a summer kitchen. In the living room was a fireplace. The parlor, a room of great elegance today, had a false dropped ceiling trimmed with molding. The summer kitchen and wash house had a sawed stone floor. The basement has walls of sawed stone. As the house was being built when Forrester's Quarry was in operation, there exists the likelihood that the stone came from Forrester.
Remodeling preserved as much of Alexander Livingston's house as possible, including the beautiful hand-carved woodwork and the graceful staircase with two lovely banked curves in the oak handrail. Some of the windowpanes are original glass, a little wavy with small bubbles in it. The dropped ceiling effect in the parlor was removed and the molding used elsewhere. Scraped off layer after layer of wallpaper, down to the original plaster. Walls were moved, making fewer rooms but larger; plumbing and heating were replaced; closets and bathrooms were added. The floors of ash were sanded for refinishing, but they shrank when central heating was put in, so they were replaced with hardwood.