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Clarion Borough

Clarion Borough Hall is located at 1400 East Main Street, Clarion, PA 16214; phone: 814-226-7707.

Clarion Boro, Clarion County Seat, PA

Clarion was first settled in 1839 when Clarion County was erected from portions of Armstrong and Venango Counties; Clarion was named county seat at the time. The community was incorporated as a borough in 1841 and lay along the Susquehanna and Waterford Turnpike (later known as the Lakes-to-Sea Highway and now U.S. Route 322). The 'pike was an historic overland road which extended from the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in Clearfield County westerly and northwesterly to Waterford in Erie County Clarion developed as a local center of commerce and industry and became known as a producer of glass bottles. In the oil boom of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Clarion figured prominently in the frenzy of local and regional oil and gas exploration. In the 1870s Carrier Seminary was established in Clarion as an institution of higher learning; it eventually became Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and continues to be among the leading economic forces in the community. [1]

The Sutton-Ditz House, (18 Grant Street; listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004) a locally distinctive example of an originally (ca. 1847) Greek Revival style mid-nineteenth-century residence which was remodeled in the Neo-Classical Revival style (ca. 1920) during the first decade of the twentieth century. It was build by Thomas Sutton Jr., (1815-1853), a native of Indiana County. As was the custom of the day, Sutton "read" the law and was admitted to the bar in 1841. In 1843 he was appointed Deputy Attorney General for the County of Indiana, southeast of Clarion County, a position which he held until moving to Clarion County where he continued his practice of law. In 1846 he wed Anne (also referred to as "Annie" in public documents) Mahon, a Pittsburgh native. When the Suttons moved to Clarion, Thomas Sutton immediately became active in the affairs of the community and was instrumental in the construction of the local Presbyterian Church. He acquired a building lot opposite Clarion's "Public Square" one block south of the Court House and built a modest brick law office. It is not known where he and his wife lived initially, but in 1847 Sutton built his new home conveniently beside his law office, adjacent to the town park, across the square from the county court house. He chose the Greek Revival style for his new home; while the Greek Revival style was on the wane in many parts of Pennsylvania by the 1840s, in the more remote regions of the state it remained the design of choice [*]. Unfortunately, Sutton's enjoyment of his new residence was short-lived as he died six years after its completion. His widow, Annie Sutton, retained ownership until 1862 when she sold the property to William J. Reynolds for $2,000 and relocated to Philadelphia to oversee a girls' school. The property remained a single-family residence and subsequent owners included C.C. Brosius (1872-1874), Nathan Myers (1874 until his death in 1892), Nathan Myers' widow Sue Myers (1892-1907), and John Reed (1907-1908).

In 1908, the home built by Thomas Sutton Jr. was purchased by John A. Ditz (1872-1941). He was a native of the western Clarion County community of Fryburg who had moved to the county seat in 1886. He entered the employ of the John Magee Hardware Company and in 1901 with Benjamin Mooney and Walther A. Graham established the Ditz and Mooney Hardware Company, which became a leading purveyor of hardware, buggies, wagons, and farm implements and was one of the largest such retailers in the area. Ditz was the senior member of the hardware business continuously until his death and became a state and national leader in the professional organizations associated with his trade. He served as president of the Pennsylvania and Atlantic Seaboard Hardware Association and was a director of the American Hardware and Supplies Association. He was also a leader in local community activities, serving during World War One as a member of the executive board of the local Red Cross and as chairman of the Clarion County Liberty Loan campaign. He was also president of the Clarion Chamber of Commerce (which he had helped to organize) and a director of the Clarion Community Fund Association.

John Ditz's hardware business prospered and in 1904 he wed Paoli, Kansas native Minnie Aldinger. In 1908 he and his wife acquired the property opposite the Public Square that contained Thomas Sutton's 1844 law office, the 1847 Sutton house, and several small buildings along the lot's Fifth Avenue frontage. On April 1, 1909, Ditz began a major remodeling of the home, a project which converted the formerly Greek Revival-style residence into an imposing Neo-Classical Revival-style home, complete with dominating centered portico on the facade. John Ditz's day book identified the contractor as Joseph Eckel but the identity of the architect responsible for the remodeling has not been identified. Eckel's name does not appear in community directories of the day and no other information is known about him. The house retains its Neo-Classical Revival style character and its integrity. [1]

* Among the region's finest examples of domestic architecture from the 1840s is Greek Revival-style Hall-Nicholson-Arthurs House of 1848 in nearby Brookville, built in an "upright-and-double-wing" form.

  1. Taylor, David L., Sutton-Ditz House, Clarion PA, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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