Students win award for Arms drawings

The building is considered one of the area’s
architectural gems.



YOUNGSTOWN — There’s a new page in America’s architectural history thanks to a team of Kent State University students — and, for the first time, that page is from Mahoning County.

Architecture students from Kent State University have received top honors for their work in documenting the structure and design of the Arms Family Museum of Local History, 648 Wick Avenue.

Two classes of 18 students each spent an academic year hand-measuring the former Olive and Wilford Arms residence from chimney to foundation. The students’ measured drawings have earned them the Charles E. Peterson Prize and will remain at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The Arms residence, built in 1905, is one of the architectural gems of the Valley, said Leann Rich, manager of education and external relations for the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

Owner Olive Arms was an artist who designed many of the building’s flourishes herself, said Rich. The home is one of the best examples in the state of Arts and Crafts architecture. The architectural movement, popular at the turn of the century, celebrated nature and the skill of the craftsman.

“It focused on handcrafted materials, nature and medieval themes,” said Rich. “When you look at the [home’s] details, she really didn’t leave anything out. All the door handles are exposed and ornately handcrafted.”

Mrs. Arms donated the home to the historical society in her will. She died in 1960.

The Arms Museum is the first in Mahoning County to be documented under Historic American Buildings Survey guidelines, said adjunct professor Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, who led the team.

HABS standards were established in 1933, under the National Park Service, to document the country’s architectural achievements. Measured drawings, such as the Kent State students’, are preserved in the HABS collection, which is one of the library’s most frequently used, according to the Library of Congress.

Thanks to the students’ effort, the drawings will be available to architecture enthusiasts across the nation, said Murphy. The drawings could also serve as a blueprint should the building need restoration in the future, she said.

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