The Richard Knight – William Biddulph house at 4302 Porter Road has been an important part of North Olmsted’s history for more than 150 years. It is important for its unique architectural design and style, as well as the history surrounding the lives of its many owners and occupants. It is the only stone house in North Olmsted. It is Italianate style in design. It was built by Richard Harrison Knight between 1850 and 1860.
Richard Knight, who in later years became the publisher of the Akron City Times in Akron, Ohio, was the second son in a family of seven children born to Jonathan and Deborah Knight of Connecticut. Richard was born November 11, 1813 in Litchfield County in Connecticut. His father, Jonathan Knight was of English descent, but was born in Norwich, Connecticut, where he followed farming until 1832, the year he moved his family to Ohio.
On December 31, 1837, Richard Knight, a young man of 24, and Miss Emma Beebe were married. Knight followed farming and stone cutting in Lorain County for fourteen years, from 1832 until 1846. He worked in various capacities of stone-work in Elyria, in addition to working on the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad.
In 1846 the Knight and Beebe families wanted to relocate to Dover Township in Cuyahoga County. On December 5, 1846, Richard and his brother-in-law Sidney, together purchased 140 acres of the original 160 acres of land on Lot 4 in Dover Township. There was a stone quarry on Lot 4. In 1850, Knight and Beebe agreed by quitclaim deed to divide their 140 acre property between themselves. The deed granted unrestricted use of the part of the stone quarry on the land deeded to Knight. The quarry was to be worked in partnership with Beebe, a stonecutter by trade.
Between 1850 and 1860 Richard began the design and construction of his new home, presumably using stone cut from the quarry located on his property, and with help from brother-in-law Sidney. The 1860 inscription in the stone lintel over the main front entrance to the Knight house probably was inscribed in the lintel before its installation, and before the final completion of construction of the house.
Richard and Emma were early active members of the Olmstead Universalist Church. Knight and Asher Coe were elected in 1849 to represent the congregation at the Universalist Association’s annual meeting at Huntington in Lorain County. Knight served as chairman. Knight was also active in the township, acting as one of the trustees in 1857.
In 1873 Richard Knight sold his properties. After the sale, Richard and Emma Knight moved to Akron. Richard eventually became the publisher of the Akron City Times, serving in that role “with great devotion” from 1875 to 1883.
On April 14, 1880, William Biddulph bought the Richard H. Knight house, and its 71.5 acres of Porter Road farmland. William Biddulph was the oldest child of John and Christina Biddulph. John’s father and brothers had a long history in land acquisition and sales in Cuyahoga County. William and Thirza Biddulph moved into their Italianate stone house in April, 1880. They had lived in their new home for thirteen years when Thirza died at the young age of 43. She left behind a husband of 45, daughter Neva, and sons John, Frank, and Ralph. On January 1, 1895, William Biddulph married Anna M. Hunger. In the 1910 Census, William Biddulph’s occupation was listed as General Manager of a carriage store. He was 62 years old and had been married to Anna for sixteen years. Their daughters, Josephine and Ruth were 15 and 13 years old, respectively. By 1910 William had built a second house on his property, in the Craftsman style. His youngest son Ralph had married Lucy Bell Underhill. Ralph and Lucy had no children and were listed in the 1910 Census as tenants in a house on Porter Road, a separate entry from William and Anna. Ralph was farming his father’s land and either he and Lucy or William and Anna lived in the stone house. Evidence strongly suggests William and Anna lived in the second house, which eventually became 4322 Porter Road. The house can be seen on a 1920 map of The Village of North Olmsted. It is occupied to this day.