Editor's note: This is the 189th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - Ashby Jackson Wilkinson (1863-1952) was the founder and first president of the Huntington Savings & Loan Association (which evolved into today's Huntington Federal Savings Bank).
In 1909, he and his wife, Olive Wilkinson, commissioned Charleston architect H. Rus Warne to design for them an impressive 17-room mansion at 1402 5th Ave.
A Parkersburg, West Virginia, native, Warne trained at the University of Cincinnati, then attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and afterward studied in Rome. He arrived in Charleston shortly after the birth of the 20th Century, and the architectural firm he established continues in business today, through several name changes.
Warne designed a great many public buildings in West Virginia, including a 1917 addition to the Kanawha County Courthouse, the Charleston City Hall (1921-22) and buildings on several college campuses. In Huntington, he designed Northcott Hall. Erected in 1915, Northcott was the second building built on the Marshall campus.
His design for the Wilkinsons was an imposing three-story tan structure in the Romanesque style, with a massive round front portico supported by four two-story columns and an unusual second-story balcony.
Many of the grand homes built along 5th Avenue near the Marshall campus in the early 1900s eventually would become fraternity and sorority houses, and that was the case with the Wilkinson Mansion, which became a fraternity house. Later it was demolished, and its site is now a vacant lot.
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