A Prairie-Victorian built as the home of the region’s great playboy robber baron, these premises regularly hosted the wealthy and VIP guests of the early 20th century. Houstonia (House-TONE-ee-ah) was built in 1900 by Foster Houston, the heir to a local multi-million dollar fortune. (His assets totaled in today’s dollars well over $50 million!)
FOSTER HOUSTON (pictured below) was a friend to any sort of big time politician or monied gentry of the early century. Ohio’s then Governor James M. Cox, bound between the state house in Columbus and his Cincinnati residence, often got off the Pennsylvania railroad at South Charleston to visit his old friend Foster. Cox, as sitting governor, was the Democrat Presidential nominee in 1920. With 38 year-old FDR as his running mate, Cox got whipped in the “return to normalcy” landslide of the GOP team of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Both Cox and Harding, before entering high politics, made their personal fortunes as newspapermen here in central Ohio. Cox ran the Dayton Daily News while Harding published the Marion Star.
Here at South Charleston, Governor Cox would steal up the block from the train depot to make a night of it with Foster and his cronies. They drank their whiskey straight and often played high-stakes poker to the wee hours. Foster was more a success as a playboy than as a gambler. Relatives say he commonly had a thousand dollars on the table at a time and once, vainly trying to support his vices, on a single hand of five card stud lost (in today’s dollars) nearly $200,000 in $20 gold pieces.
Stories of intrigue, downfall, glamour, and wealth await you at the famous Houstonia Bed and Breakfast.
Houstonia Bed & Breakfast
25 East Mound Street
P.O. Box 363
South Charleston, Ohio 45368-0363
Comments or questions are welcome.