Platt R. Spencer home gets new coat in time for winter

Volunteers work on priming and painting the former home of Platt R. Spencer, known as the Father of American Penmanship, who lived there in the 1800s. Pictured, from left: Tommy Norman, III, Phil Schmidt and Bill Peters, all of Geneva.

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GENEVA — The historical building that once housed the Father of American Penmanship recently received a new coat of paint.

Thanks to a grant from the Sherwin Williams Co., the former home of Platt R. Spencer now has protective layers of primer and historic white paint, according to Beth Stillwell, president of the Platt R. Spencer Historical Society, Inc.

Stillwell said the building was declared generally sound for having survived from the 1800s by a historic preservationist professor from Ursuline College.

Spencer founded the first U.S. business school teaching handwriting and other business skills (developing over time into the Bryant and Stratton chain). Spencer was a public servant in Ashtabula County and active in his local community.

The Geneva community pitched in to help with the painting project by way of scrapers, painters, outdoor clean-up crew, grant-writers and legal assistance. Volunteers included project leader Tommy Norman, III, and his helpers, Beth Stillwell, grounds leader Bill Peters, Phil and Cathie Schmidt, the City of Geneva and attorney Gary Pasqualone, who obtained the incorporation papers.

Donations and more than 100 memberships to the society have provided needed financial assistance to keep the work, water, heat and electric going. American Electric checked the wiring to ensure a safe supply of electricity needed for using the paint sprayer.

The home security system unit, donated by Vector Security, electronically monitors the home, along with frequent checks by society volunteers and neighbors.

The house, located on North Myers Road, was willed to the Platt R. Spencer Historical Society July 4, 2016, by Thomas Rood upon his death.

Additional grants and funding will be needed to continue renovating the house so that sometime in the future it can serve as an historical and learning center. Memberships are $10 per person or $15 per couple. Donations are tax deductible.

For more information, contact Beth Stillwell at (440) 466-8697 or treasurer Phil Schmidt at (440) 466-6414.

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