Barnard Wolff was born on April 17, 1827 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and arrived in Mansfield, Ohio, with his wife, around 1850. Barnard became a prominent architect, carpenter, and builder after he arrived in Mansfield and built such buildings as the Baptist Church, which stood on the corner of Park Ave West and Walnut streets; the Fire Hall; the Union Depot; and the Boston store block. One of his most notable buildings, at the corner of East Fourth and North Diamond streets, bore his name for its first five years of existence, the Barnard House. This would later be known as the Sherman House and finally The Brunswick, or Brunswick Hotel.
In April of 1870, the Barnard House opened under the management of John Ditwiler. The Mansfield Herald reported that Barnard Wolff had spared no expense in the building, making it one of the finest in the city and possibly finer than what stood in many other towns west of Mansfield. They added that Mr. Wolff should get much praise for the improvements he had made to Fourth Street and for the business which would be drawn downtown. In January of 1875, Shuman Keister leased the hotel and quickly changed the name to the Sherman House. The name stayed the Sherman House, or Hotel Sherman until around 1896 when it was named The Brunswick.
The Interior of The Brunswick around 1909.
The hotel had various managers in the 1880s and 1890s, until 1896 when Joel G. Knittle took over. Knittle remained at The Brunswick until September of 1911 when Barnard Wolff’s son, Fred B. Wolff, took over management with his new wife, Grace Leppo Wolff, upon their return from their honeymoon. Knittle would die that same month of cancer. Fred Wolff would serve as service-safety director under two mayors in Mansfield and run the hotel until his death on April 13, 1954. After his death, his wife, Grace, continued to manage the hotel.
The Brunswick in 1964, shortly before being razed. (Photo by Eileen Wolford)
Grace would run the hotel until her death a few years later on April 22, 1961. Mansfield Midtown Inc., a local for-profit company who aimed to create more accessible parking downtown, had been wanting to purchase the hotel since before Grace’s death in 1961. In 1964 they finally acquired the building and it was razed a short time later. The location is now part of the free downtown parking lot, across the street from the Richland Carrousel Park.
- Baughman, A. J. A Centennial Biographical History of Richland and Ashland Counties. p. 126-127.
- Mansfield Herald (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 March 1870, p. 3.
- Ohio Liberal (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 March 1875, p. 4.