The artist’s sketch of 438 Scioto St., Urbana, published in 1874 in the Champaign County Atlas, shows wide sidewalks, street lights (lit by hand every evening) and a horse and carriage traveling east. Notice the hitching post along the edge of the sidewalk and an object that looks like it might be for stepping up into and out of a carriage more easily. The residence of Frank Chance, Esquire, sets up on a bank, higher than the street level and has a handsome carriage house in the rear of the property. In researching information about Frank Chance Esquire, two people named Frank Chance were found in Urbana’s history books during the 1800s and both were successful people in Urbana society. One was a well admired attorney of law, and the other Frank Samuel Chance was a railroad agent, son of Dr. Samuel Chance, physician and druggist. Fortunately Frank S. Chance was not born until 1870 and therefore, too young to be the owner of this lovely home. Isn’t it strange to have so many people in a small town with the same name that don’t seem to be even related?
438 Scioto St. today
Now this home in 2016 on Scioto Street, one of those big stately three-story homes, continues to be improved and modernized and update. The porch, while not original, was added many years ago, perhaps to watch the many parades the town used to have along Main and Scioto streets. The porch needed freshening, which was done recently by the owners, the Brown family. This home experienced damage from frozen pipes one winter while unattended, and is still slowly being restored. Clarence J. and Joyce Brown have lived in the house neighboring to the west of this home for 50 years and experienced their own home damaging event many years ago when their gas furnace blew up. They too chose to repair the damage and improve their home rather than relocate. Many may remember Earel M. and Laura G. Belford and family living in this lovely home for many years. One wonders if that is the same iron fence in front of this property “now” that was there “then” in 1874? That will take more research to determine, in addition to knowing if that is the same carriage house in the background, or if it was replaced by a more grand one at some point in time. The home on the right side, while being an attractive home, is definitely not the same house that was there when the sketch was made in 1874. Life continues to change and yet thankfully with care some things can remain the same.
Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.