Bigelow/Lepper house in the early 1900s (Norwood Historical Society collection)

Catherine Bigelow, wife of L. Waldo Bigelow, bought this lot of land in 1887 from Charles W Gay, it would have been soon after that that, about 1890, that the Bigelow’s built this Queen Anne style home. In 1899, sold the property to her son, Erwin. This was Erwin Bigelow’s second house in the Christian Hill neighborhood. (see #32 Cottage Street)

Bigelow/Lepper house circa 1990 (Source: MACRIS databse).

            Elements of the Erwin Bigelow Queen Anne Style house:

  • Compact form
    • Symmetrical façade (Colonial Revival)
    • Porch columns
    • Mix of shingles and clapboards
    • Hipped roof (Queen Anne)
Bigelow/Lepper house today. (photo by LLKearney)

Erwin Bigelow was born 1850 to Lyman Waldo Bigelow and Catherine B. Howard. When Erwin was old enough he went to work for his father’s store, LW Bigelow & Sons. Initially his father opened first store in the old Village Hall in 1853, but by the time Erwin and his brother Edgar, joined the business, the store was operating out of the Bigelow Block on the corner of Day and Washington Streets. The company sold furniture and household appliances. They were noted for the fine items they carried national brands like Kalvinator ice chests, Eddy refrigerators and Crawford gas stoves. About 1873 he married Amy Leighton Fisher (1850-1887), and together they had three children; Harry Augustus (1874-1959), Catherine Leighton (1878-1945) and Amy Woodworth (1880-1968). Erwin married a second time to Mary Adalaide Cragin (1853-1935). Mary Bigelow was still living in the home at 25 Beech Street in 1920. Mary and her step-children, Harry, Catherine and Amy sold the house to George M. Lepper in 1925.

Advertisement for Bigelow Furniture.

George Mitchell Lepper, was born 1870 in Canada, son of Alexander Lepper and Mary Sauders. He owned a bicycle business on Railroad Avenue, founded by his father in 1888. He was a dealer in high-grade bicycles and was adept at repairing them as well. By the 1920s Lepper owned the Ford dealership located at 519 Washington Street. In 1903, he married Louisa Childs Rhoades in Norwood. She was the daughter of Warren Ellis Rhoads and Cynthia Schufelt. George and Louisa became the parents of three children; Ruth Rhoads (1905-2011), Cynthia Louise (1907-1980) and George Warren (1911-1912). The Leppers lived in the house thought the 1950s. George died in 1962. After the death of Cynthia Louise (Lepper) Reed, her sister sold the property in 1980 to Paul and Judith Zavracky, they owned the property for thirty-one years before selling it in 2011.

The bicycle shop of George Lepper on Railroad Ave. (Norwood Historical Society collection).

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