Phipps House

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Phipps House.jpg
On the corner of Hill Street and Spencer, a duplex full of rich history and peaceful memories stands erect showing of its beautiful architecture dated from 1900. The house, now roughly one hundred and five years old, was nothing more than a lot with a label in the early twentieth century, but now serves as a reminder to the Marion community of how deep and extensive the cities history is (Assessor). Many people have made 705 West Spencer Avenue their home for over a century now sharing each recollection and memory with it. People of importance have called the place home to just ordinary people calling it home. The house tells stories of these people’s lives bridging the gap between the past and present.


The Phipps residence is a gray duplex which contains two stories, each story able to sustain a family, and a full sized basement and attic. The front of the house faces Spencer Avenue showing off its gorgeous lead laced stain glass windows. The front walkway leads up to a closed frame porch with a stunning hand carved oak door with intricate glass complements leading into the magnificent home (Assessor). The side facing Hill Street has an open cement porch and large windows much like the façade of the house. On the inside of the duplex, it contains living necessities such as bathrooms, kitchens, etc. on both levels so one family could live up stairs while the other could inhabit the lower story. All throughout the home, hard wood stretches across the floors complemented by hand-carved adornments that embellish the fireplace mantels, entryways, and frameworks. Throughout the house are large windows, some with stain glass, look out over the lawn. Disconnected from the house, is a single car garage divided from the home by a backyard surrounded with a chain-linked fence (Assessor).

Built by Mayor Swezey

Field Swezey in 1892
Field W. Swezey and his wife, Anne B. Swezey, were the first people on record to live in the Phipps house (Grant County City Directory). Field W. Swezey had not lived in Marion all his life but Anne was born and raised there. Mr. Swezey was born on July 16, 1863 in Sheridan, Ohio, where he grew up during most of his early childhood. After nine years in Sheridan, Swezey moved to Painsville, Ohio where he graduated from high school. Field Swezey moved to Marion from Painsville, Ohio in 1883 after completing his law degree at Columbia Law School in New York City and after two years of practice. When he came to Marion, Swezey immediately started Brownlee and Swezey, a law firm with Hon Hiram Brownlee (Souvenir of the Daily and Weekly Leader) (which he “maintained active contact with. . . almost to the very hour of his death” (leader)) and also became a member of the Grant County Bar (Some Greater Marion Faces).

Swezey married Anne B. Sweetser, the daughter of a local banker and a descendent of one of Marion’s pioneer families, in 1889 (Field Swezey: Leader Tribune). Anne was born in her family home on the corner of Second and Washington in Marion (Swezey Rights Scheduled). When she grew older and finished school, she became active in the local bank, which the Sweetser family had deep roots and connections with. Mrs. Swezey was one of the few highly educated ladies in Marion and was well respected throughout the town (Biographical Memoirs).

Swezey did not remain in Marion until his death, but ventured to Omaha, Nebraska where he started another firm and practice called Hubbard and Swezey and then coming back to Marion in 1893 (Field Swezey: Leader Tribune). When he returned, he became the city attorney and later turned towards politics. Field W. Swezey, running for the Republicans, became mayor of Marion in 1906 and remained the cities leader until 1912 leaving behind a clean administration. “His administration was characterized by a fearless enforcement of the law and a splendid record was left behind when he retired from public life at the close of his second term” (Field Swezey: Leader Tribune). Mr. Swezey was actively involved in the Gethsemane Episcopal Church, the Marion Golf Club, and the Meshingamesia Country until his death. Field Swezey died on Wednesday, March 30, 1932 at his home on Spencer, from a chronic illness that he had suffered with since 1915 leaving his wife with the house (Field Swezey: Leader Tribune). Anne B. Swezey continued living in the home until she moved into an apartment in 1938, where she lived until her death, putting the house up for sale (Grant County City Directory).

The Rooses and Kings

The house remained vacant until 1941 when the house was sold to a sales manager named Walter Roose and his wife Martha (Grant County City Directory). According to the Grant County Directory, Walter Roose sold the house to Ora King between the years of 1945 and 1950, which is the first time Walter Roose did not show up in the directory under the houses address. Since the home was a duplex it is still unsure as to who actually owned the house during these times even up until present day. The information was unable to be retained because the abstract to the house had been lost. Ora C. King was born on January 11, 1880 in Pleasant Township on a farm just outside of Sweetser that he would end up working until his death (Chronicle Tribune). As a boy, Ora attended Sweetser schools and then went on to college at Indianapolis Business University. After college, Ora came back to Sweetser where he lived most of his life working the family farm which was on 1517 Delphi Road. Mr. King had an array of occupations from a teacher, to a farmer, to a banker, and even a factory owner (Centennial History). On his farm, Ora tried many crops and livestock such as cattle, beets, which he grew in partnership with the Holland St. Louis Sugar Beet Company, and tomatoes. Mr. King grew tomatoes for Snider Packing and Sweetser Packing Company until he started his own canning company on his farm which eventually moved to Galveston giving it the name King Packing Company (Centennial History). Mr. King was a founder and major stock holder of the Farmers State Bank where he was president for forty-nine years. Mr. King spent the last sixteen years living in the Phipps house until February 1961 when he passed away, leaving his wife with the house (Chronicle Tribune). Mary King continued living in the residence until 1963 when she also died leaving the house vacant until 1965 when Dale Culley and his wife Georgianna bought the home (Grant County City Directory).

The Culleys

Dale Culley owned the Culley Barber Shop, located on West Second Street. His father had opened the shop around the year 1919, and Dale eventually took over the family business. Culley was a World War II veteran during the war, serving with the Medical Corps on the fronts. He was involved in the First Christian Church and many other city organizations such as the Marion Boys Club, the Lions Club, and the Samaritan Lodge No. 105. He served as president of the Indiana State Barbers’ Association, and, from his retirement until his death, worked as the secretary at the Samaritan Lodge. Mr. Culley died at the age of fifty-seven on January 25, 1971 from cancer, which had plagued for a number of years (Deaths-Funerals: R. Dale Culley). His wife was then widowed and left with the house where she lived until 1978 when she moved away entitling the house to Phillip Wiley (Grant County City Directory). Phillip Willey moved away passing the home on to Leon Plank. Plank was a Montpelier native, graduating from Muncie Central High School and then Indiana University. Leon became apart of the Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, Plank moved to Marion at the age of twenty-eight where he started an auto shop called Plank Auto Parts Company. Leon Plank died on Monday, October 30, 1989 leaving the house vacant (Obituaries: Leon Plank).

The Rigsbys

By 1991, Thomas and Patricia Rigsby had moved into the home along with Barry and Stacey McMullen. It is unsure as to who actually owns the house but by 1997, the Rigsbys had moved out and Marvin and Misty Brown took their place. The McMullens and Browns continued living there until 1999 when Reverend Joel Gearhart moved in (Grant County City Directory). The Gearharts lived in the home until 2002 when Brent and Cindi Bradley took the vacancy. The Bradleys quickly left after one year in the home, handing the house over to the present day owner, John Phipps and his wife (Grant County City Directory). John and his wife, Dena, live with their two sons Montgomery, and Winston. Mr. Phipps was involved in the military until he went to seminary to become a pastor. John is now a youth pastor at Brookhaven Wesleyan Church where he has worked for the past three years. His wife is a stay-at-home mom taking care of her two children ages two and six. John has made some improvements to the house such as painting the living room and refurnishing the attic. Phipps also divided a room giving Winston and Montgomery there own living space. When the Phipps moved in, the upstairs was vacant until 2004 when the Jiles family moved in. The Jiles have continued to live with the Phipps.


After one hundred and five years, 705 West Spencer Avenue remains in its beautifully aged state. The Phipps home has had a rich history of residences living in it from a former mayor, to a farmer, and even to a retired barber. The house has endured for over a century displaying its magnificent array of architecture such as antique stain glass windows, solid oak doors, and hand-carved fireplace mantels. The house continues to be a testament to Marion of how deep and important the cities history is. At its old age, the home still has years to come of offering a shelter for families and for providing a place for history to be made.

Works Cited

  • “Assessor: Property Information.” 16 July 2000. Assessor.8 May 2005 <>
  • “Deaths-Funerals: R. Dale Culley.” Leader Tribune. 25 January 1971: A4. “Death and Funeral Services: Ora C. King.” Marion Chronicle Tribune. 9 February 196 1. B2.
  • “Field W. Swezey.” Biographical Memoirs of Grant County, Indiana. Chicago: Bowen Publishing Company, 1901.
  • “Field W. Swezey.” Leader Tribune. 31 March 1932: B3.
  • “Field W. Swezey.” Souvenir of the Daily and Weekly Leader: Marvelous Marion. Marion, 1892.
  • Grant County City Directory 1927-2003
  • “Obituaries: Leon Plank.” Marion Chronicle Tribune. 1 November 1989: A8.
  • “Ora C. King.” Rolland Lewis Whitson ed. Centennial History of Grant County Indiana: 1812 to 1912 vol. II. Marion: Grant County Historical Society, 1914.
  • “Swezey Rights Scheduled.” Leader Tribune. 15 January 1946: A2.


Kyle Mazellan submitted this paper on May 19, 2005 for Mr. Munn's AP U.S. History class at Marion High School.