Elizabeth Warner married Robert Marvin on October 9, 1889.
The lovely homes of that era changed hands several times before being
torn down or converted into lodges, funeral parlors, or institutions of various
kinds. In leaving her beautiful home to the women of Jamestown, as a
clubhouse. Mrs. Marvin had visions of the fate of other homes and she took
this means of preventing her residence from being turned into a glorified
drinking club or a gas station.
The Marvin House originally was an eight-room farmhouse, owned by Mrs.
Richard Lewis. The old house opened on Main Street. Even though it was
an old house, it was the location and the neighborhood that appealed to Mr.
Marvin. He bought the building in 1989 and proceeded to build rooms
around it in front and on the south side. It is said that he might better have
built a new home from scratch – he spent a small fortune on it. Architect,
E.G.W. Dietrich, from New York City, designed the Marvin House.
The Marvin Community House is a stunning example of E.G.W. Dietrich’s
“Shingle Style” architecture, it seamlessly blends elements from the Art
Nouveau, Arts and crafts, and Eastlake styles. Mr. Dietrick designed and
built four houses in the city about the same time, the ML Fenton house,
William Proudfit and Frederick Hall houses.
When completed it was considered to be one of the most handsome
houses in Western New York. No expense was spared in the use of rare
woods in the various rooms. There are many picturesque nooks and
corners, among them is the circular reception room domed ceiling
supported by columns that rest on a paneled wainscoting with curved
The Marvin House is listed in a report titled “Historic Preservation of
Chautauqua County”, prepared by the County Department of Planning and
Development. The house was rated the best Queen Anne (or shingle style
structure) in the county and was given a Priority 1 rating for homes that
should be preserved under any circumstances.
Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, a woman of culture and with
many facets, a compassionate generous philanthropist, a woman with a
dream for the future of Jamestown’s women. She loved art and music and
was a member of the Fortnightly Club and the Mozart Club. She belonged
to the Century Art Club and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Elizabeth Warner was born in Jamestown in 1866. She was educated
locally then sent off to Miss Brown’s Finishing School on Fifth Avenue in
New York City.
On October 7, 1889, at the age of 24, Miss Elizabeth Warner was married
to Robert Marvin. He was considerably older, 45, and like Elizabeth came
from an influential family. The wedding was considered the “Wedding of
Living across the street from the Jamestown Club (men only), her
husband’s favorite haunt, inspired Elizabeth to bequeath her home to
provide for a private meeting place for the moral or mental improvement of
women. Elizabeth Marvin died in 1950. In 1951 four hundred women
became charter members of the Marvin Community House
Robert Marvin was born in Jamestown in 1845. He was educated in the
public schools and took a course at Hartwick Seminary in Otsego County.
Following that he studied at Bryant and Stratton Business College in
Buffalo. His community involvement was immense.
He was trustee and executor of many large fortunes and estates
throughout the Chautauqua County region and was held in unvarying
confidence by everyone who knew him. He was executor of the vast
He organized the first telephone company, first water company and chaired
the committee that drafted the first city charter. He was involved with Lake
View Cemetery, Ellicott Hook and Ladder Co, Gustavus Adolphus Home,
Town Board of the Town of Ellicott, helped form the Chautauqua Lake
Railroad and Jamestown Street Railroad.
As he was a bit of a playboy, he enjoyed his active membership in the
Jamestown Club, which was housed in the Tew House, across from the
Marvin House. Robert died in 1909 after 19 years of marriage. He was 63.
2 W. Fifth Street, Jamestown NY
Group and bus tours available
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