The Stanton-Bonham House: An Oxford and Miami University Landmark
An Oxford and Miami University Landmark
Built by "Old Miami" University President Robert L. Stanton, D. D. (1810-1885), as a private home and president's office,Stanton's Italianate style house built in 1868 faced University Square and welcomed students and guests. At the time, the Stanton House had an unimpeded vista directly north across Spring Street toward Old Main and the University Square. Never painted, the two-story, brick Italianate style house featured a symmetrical double gabled façade, paired bay windows, and a low hipped roof with widow’s walk access. On the interior, the grand center hall and staircase, marbleized mantels and double parlors with pocket doors contributed to its moniker as President Stanton’s “magnificent dwelling.” The triangular bay windows and portal leading into President Stanton’s office are unique design elements. The house may have been designed by the renowned Cincinnati architect James McLaughlin, who had designed additions to Miami’s Old Main in 1867. In April 1868, McLaughlin executed a pencil sketch of the Stanton House.
Stanton served as Miami president from 1866 -1871. Stanton's son, Robert Brewster Stanton, MU '71,famed civil engineer,lived here as an undergraduate. His Miami mentor,mathematics professor Robert W. McFarland (1825-1910), purchased the house in 1873; rented it when distinguishing himself at Ohio State Universitywhile Miami offered no college classes; then resided here as "New Miami's" first president (1885-1888) and remained in his possession until his death in 1910. It then became the property of his younger daughter Frances and her husband Llewellyn Bonham, a Miami University graduate, inventor and noted agriculturist. Bonham arranged to have the house bequeathed to Miami University in exchange for an annuity for him and his wife in their last years. The Bonhams sold the home to Miami in 1940, after which time it became known as the Bonham House.
The year Stanton came to Oxford, Miami trustee Joseph McCord purchased the neighboring McGuffey House. About the same time Stanton was building his house, McCord began modifying his brick house. McCord installed a new staircase, tall parlor windows, and a bracketed cornice that complemented Stanton’s Italianate style home. Together, nearly a century and-a-half later, the two red brick houses stand as significant architectural landmarks on the campus of Miami University.
In 2012, the League of Women Voters of Oxford applied for and was awarded an historic marker from the Historic and Architectural Preservation Commission of the City of Oxford, which restored the Stanton name on the building. The marker reads: The Stanton-Bonham House 1868.
This exhibit celebrates the architectural and historical significance of the Stanton-Bonham House within the long history of Miami University and Oxford. The Stanton-Bonham House today retains much of the original fabric as it did when the Stanton family lived there from 1868 to 1871. It remains the only house in Oxford built expressly for a Miami University president, a rare surviving vestige of “Old Miami” and home to the first president of “New Miami.”Stephen GordonWilliam Holmes McGuffey Museum2015