Entrance porch of the Peter Neff Cottage, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio. Photo taken 1951 by Perry E. Borchers for an Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
The HABS report for this house said it “may be the finest example of Gothic Revival cottage style and wood detail in Ohio.” It was built about 1860 for Peter Neff, a co-inventor of the tintype and an alumnus and benefactor of Kenyon College.
All was not happy in this charming abode, however. Neff quarreled with nearby Kenyon over the bells of the campus’s Church of the Holy Spirit, “which he claimed had driven him to the brink of nervous collapse,” according to the Historic Campus Architecture Project.
“Place yourself and family in my location, about seven hundred feet distant,” he wrote in a 19-page open letter. “How would you like this ding dong every fifteen minutes? . . . [It is] machinery wearing out flesh and blood to those who have any nerves. It is too much bell-ringing . . . it is a sickening nuisance.”
Neff finally moved away from the campus and its bells in 1888.
The house is now named Clifford* Place and is the residence of the Dean of Students.
*The name of one of Neff’s daughters.