Dublin Villager

Coffman home celebrates city's past

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Fletcher Coffman Homestead won't be celebrating its 200th birthday this year along with the city, but it provides a good place to reconnect with the history of Dublin.

Dublin Historical Society president Herb Jones says the house, which was built between 1862 and 1867, is "one of the best kept secrets in Dublin."

The two-story home that sits on Emerald Parkway, south of the city's municipal building, holds myriad items from Dublin's founding families.

The main two-story part of the home was first built for Fletcher and Marinda Coffman. Jones said the first-floor portion that now includes the kitchen was added in the early 1900s.

"For (the main part) of the house, construction started in 1862 and it took them five years to build it because the bricks were actually made on the farm," Jones said. "They were made in a clay pit that was where the recreation center is."

Fletcher and Marinda Coffman moved into the home in fall 1867, and members of the Coffman family lived there until the early 1980s, Jones said.

"That's what makes this house unique -- only one family really lived here," he said.

The last resident, Ida Coffman, sold the property to Dublin. The municipal building and Coffman Park were built there.

"The city bought the land from Ida in the late 70s with the understanding that she could live in the (Coffman House) until she died," Jones said, adding that her death came in 1983, two months short of her 100th birthday.

Shortly after that, the historical society took over the building.

"The historical society was looking for a building and we approached the village," Jones said. "We have a 99-year lease on the Coffman House."

He said no major renovations had to be done, except for some roof and awning repairs.

After the historical society took over the home, it discovered the history of the Coffman family.

"There was a lot of stuff still in the house," Jones said. "Ninety percent of the pieces in the home are from the Coffmans."

The table in the dinning room was built by Fletcher Coffman. A baby carriage found in the attic was used by Marinda Coffman. Marinda and Fletcher's bed still sits in one of the second-floor bedrooms, along with a few quilts made by Marinda.

What wasn't found in the home was sent to the house by family members; Jones said a hutch was sent from Arizona.

Items not from the Coffman family must have historical significance to the history of Dublin, Jones said.

Items from Dublin's coronet band, organized in 1878, are enclosed in cases on the second floor. An original uniform and sheet music are included in the collection.

One of the organs in the home was donated by the Christian Methodist Church, which was knocked down in 1914 by a tornado. Another organ was donated by Biddie's Coach House. A melodeon -- a 19th century reed organ -- is on permanent loan from the Sam Davis family, Jones said.

"Madge Shriver would play this in her (historical dress) when kids come in," he said.

The dcor, such as the wallpaper, is from the period, Jones said. The carpet in the parlor matches the original.

"The carpet is an exact copy from 1867. We found a square of it in the attic," Jones said.

The decorations and photos are on display for the benefit of Dublin schoolchildren; Jones said 600 to 700 students visit each spring as they learn about local history.

Dublin residents will get a chance to check out the many items and learn about the city's history during bicentennial events this year.

The Coffman House will be open during the living history exhibit and community day in May and the Oct. 2 heritage day.

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