Merrifield-Cass House


Street Address: 816 Lincolnway East

Year Built: 1837

City Ordinance:

National Registry #: 83000147

The Merrifield-Cass House was built in 1837 for George Merrifield and was heavily remodeled in the 1860's and 1870's by the Albert Cass family. It represents a blend of Federal and Greek Revival architectural style and is the second oldest surviving dwelling in Mishawaka. It is also thought to be the oldest house in continuous use in the City of Mishawaka. 

Built in 1837, the dwelling was a rectangular, one-story with a basement. The exterior as it appears today is a result of the remodeling work undertaken by the Albert Cass family in 1867 and 1871, most notably the Carpenter-Gothic porch. Each wing of the structure is wood frame construction. The western two-story portion rests on fieldstone basement walls, while the western, one-story portion rests on brick foundation walls. Details characteristic of the Greek Revival style are the very tall ground story windows, the raking cornice and the simple entablature, the transom above the entry door and the main entry located on the gable end of the structure. Details related to the Federal style include the lintel-type window heads, the large, six-over-six light, double-hung windows, the thin window mountains, the louvered window shutters, and the thin corner boards. Details common to both styles include the low pitched gable roof and sidelights at the front entry door.

The interior of the two-story portion exhibits wide painted pine doors and window trim, plaster walls, poplar floors and a cherry staircase. The interior finish materials of the single-story portion are more common and plain, characteristic of their earlier placement in a tenant dwelling. One other detail worth mentioning is the two-inch difference in elevation between the original structure and the floor of the adjoining portion (a detail which we are told aggravated Mr. Cass).

In 1867, the Albert Cass family added the second story and moved a single-story tenant house from elsewhere on the property to a location adjoining the eastern side of the two-story portion of the dwelling resulting in an "L" shape. The porches, which are the most readily identifiable characteristic of the structure, were added in 1871.

George Merrifield, the original owner, was responsible for bringing public education to Mishawaka. He built the first school and served as teacher until 1846.