Joseph and Isabella Bradfield emigrated from Knavesboro County of York, England, to Belmont County in 1827. They began farming, trading in tobacco, and eventually purchased a mercantile business.
Their sons ultimately took over the business operations, with John Bradfield (Sr.) marrying Eliza Anna Shannon, the niece of Ohio’s 1st native-born governor, Wilson Shannon. John and Eliza had nine children, including John W. (Diaz) Brownfield.
John W. “Diaz” Bradfield and his wife Sarah (Clark) Bradfield began constructing their new home on the corner of Walton Avenue and North Chestnut Street in 1888. Their Romanesque-style home was completed five years later in 1893 and celebrated with a 300-guest social event that July. In all, the mansion cost $65,000 to build, which would be roughly equivalent to $2,000,000 today.
The Bradfields lived in the home up until the time of Mr. Bradfield’s death. Shortly afterward, the mansion was sold to Earl and Pearl (Bradfield) Watt, who lived in the home until 1965. As the Watts aged, they closed off the mansion’s upper floors and lived only on the first floor, causing the upper floors to deteriorate.
After the passing of the Watts, the house sat vacant for several years. Eventually, plans were made to raze the structure to make way for a gas station. But before those plans could be put into place, John Bradfield and Everett Hanlon purchased the property for $10,000. They turned it over to the Belmont County Historical Society to become the Belmont County Victorian Mansion Museum.
A gazebo was added to the property in the 1990s and is a popular place for many weddings. The roof of the wrap-around front porch was added back to the property in 2014. The mansion’s 26 rooms have been restored to their original Victorian-era beauty.