For more than 200, years the Wiler name has been associated with a building on the corner of North Main Street and Dickson Ave in Mansfield, Ohio. Swiss immigrant John Jacob Wiler arrived in Mansfield in 1819 and quickly married Margaret Styers on April 25, 1819, who was the daughter of the man he was renting from. The Wiler Tavern or, Wiler House, was born that year. Wiler started as a baker and brewer and later an innkeeper. According to Graham’s History of Richland County, Ohio, Wiler first built a two-story brick building in 1831 on the property he officially acquired from his father-in-law in 1821. Two more stories were added around 1840. The earliest image of the Wiler House comes from the 1869-70 Mansfield City directory shown below.
On May 31, 1875, a fire started in the roof of the Wiler House. The building was renovated and at some point, the roof was changed from the flat roof depicted in the illustration above to the sloped roof in the photo below. A change in the color of brick is clearly visible above the third-story showing the new fourth floor and roof. Also visible in the photograph is the change in color of brick showing the 1840 two-story addition.
John Jacob Wiler died on August 1, 1881 at the age of 101. The property was handed down to his daughter Mary (Wiler) Cook and she sold part of the Wiler Block to Sharpless E. Bird in 1895. A portion of the Wiler House would be torn down and Sharpless would construct the Bird Building the following year. The following photos show the Bird Building and what remained of The Wiler, as it was then called, after renovation.
On October 9, 1911, an explosion rocked the Wiler Building. Natural Gas had accumulated in the basement and was set off by a pilot light in a gas furnace located in the center of the Risch & McCoy storeroom. There were about 14 workers and some customers in the building at the time of the explosion. Miss Lydia Brumenschenkel would die four weeks later as a result of the injuries she sustained. It was quite a spectacle and many souvenir postcards were sold showing smoke rising from The Wiler.
The Wiler was repaired and stood at that location until May of 1927 when it was razed and a new $40,000 Wiler Building was constructed in its place.
The Bird Building stood for eighty years and was itself razed in 1977. This image from the March 13, 1979 edition of the Mansfield News Journal by Jeff Sprang shows the Wiler Building shortly after the demolition of the Bird Building.
Today the Wiler Building is home to the Katana Fitness Center at 67 North Main St.