W.E.R. Kemp


was a carpenter and builder of some of the earlier homes and businesses in Ironton. These are some of the articles that we found relating to his work.

Researched by: Sharon M. Kouns and Martha Martin

IR Dec. 8, 1859 – Union Hall. – Ironton can now boast of one of the prettiest and neat Public Halls in the country. Union Hall, so long in an unfinished condition, was sold last Summer, to a new company, which went to work to complete it, and it is now nearly ready for opening – will be ready in course of a week or two. The company now owning it, is styled D. S. Murdock & Co.” and consists of D. S. & T. I. Murdock, James Rodgers, Samuel W. Dempsey, John Ellison and John Campbell.

The building is 96 feet in length by 44 feet wide. The first story is taken up by two store rooms, the second by the Public Hall; and the third, which was handsomely finished and furnished about four years ago, is the Masonic Hall.

The “Union Hall,” just now being completed, is the design of its finish is plain, yet neat and tasty – that plan of W. E. R. Kemp who did the carpenter work. The stage is raised about three feet, across the end opposite the entrance, inclined a little to the audience, is 16 feet wide, and the front is ornamented with a beautiful arch. The audience room, but two broad aisles, convenient for entrances and exit, and is seated with stationary ____, so fixed through the centre, between the two slates, that they can readily be removed if it is wanted. The sight in the audience room is all clear, save three small iron pillars. At the entrance, there is ample standing room at the head of the stairs, with an ante room one side of the main doorway to the Hall; and over this part across the entrance end of the building is a gallery, which contains very eligible seats. All about the Hall is roomy and it will comfortably seat, in the regular _____ 700 people – in case of a “crowd,” 1,000 people can find room in the Hall, and from that up to any required density that can be suffered.

The plastering is a good job done by John Sloat and Jerry Jamison, and the painting very neat and shows- principally beautifully grained work; the windows will be frosted and ornamental, and hung just right for easy ventilation.

D. S. & T. I. Murdock have the (do not have end)

IJ Oct. 2, 1867 – Almost Two Fires. – … house occupied by Johnson Bro.’s, as dry goods store, next to Union Hall building.

IR Nov. 11, 1869 – Chisel and hammer are ringing on the stone for the Union Hall front.

IR May 26, 1870 – Workmen are now putting up the stone front to Union Hall.

IR June 9, 1870 – If the Union Hall is rendered as safe as it is attractive, by the recent improvements made there, the work will not have been done in vain.

IR Mar. 2, 1871 – Opened. – D. S. Murdock has opened a Wholesale Flour and Provision store, in one of the large and commodious rooms under Union Hall. ….

IR Jan. 3, 1861 – The Bank Building. – On New Year’s Day the Iron Bank was removed to its new building on Second Street. It is a matter of pride to the town that a structure such as that should adorn the principal thoroughfare, for in appearance, in construction and in materials, not many places of the same size can boast its superior. The foundation, which rises about four feet above the ground, is a splendid specimen of masonry, and just after it was finished looked considerably like a young fort, so strong and well constructed were the walls. The brick work would compare with the best in the cities; it shows that the workmen were masters of the trowel, for every thing is in straight line and square corner. The cornice, though heavy, is very tasty; there are nearly a hundred moulded briskets upon it which of course very much enriches its appearance. There are three rooms in the building, the bank room, proper, and two side rooms, each of which is well finished and perfectly adapted to the purpose of the building. The iron vault is placed upon a solid stone foundation and surrounded by heavy brick walls, to get through which, would undoubtedly try the patience of the sharpest villain.

The workmen were W. E. R. Kemp, Architect, Stephen White, Brick Mason, James Allison, Stone Mason, Wm. Cochran, Painter, and J. Jamison, Plasterer.

IJ Dec. 4, 1867 – Mr. D. H. Clark, of Millersport, has purchased a beautiful building site on Fourth street, below Mr. Samuel W. Dempsey, where he is erecting a beautiful residence. W. E. R. Kemp has the contract. (Aug. 1884 states D. H. Clark’s house was built in 1867) [IR Apr. 30, 1874 – D. H. Clark is repairing and remodeling his residence on 4th st., which presents a handsome appearance, although not yet complete.

IR Dec. 9, 1893 – The pleasant home of Mr. and Mrs. D. H. Clark on south Fourth street was the scene of a happy event Wednesday evening. The occasion was the wedding of their daughter, Mrs. Hattie Clark Simpson, to Mr. John C. Murdock…Mr. Murdock and his bride ..for their home already prepared by the groom on Center street..] [IR Sept. 2, 1899 – Dennis Hayes Clark died at the family home on south Fourth street – funeral held at the residence on the corner of Fourth and Washington streets.]

IR May 6, 1869 – Bank Building – The upper end of Rodger’s Block will shortly be torn down, to make way for the splendid new structure in contemplation. W. E. R. Kemp has the contract to build the whole thing, and is rapidly perfecting his arrangements.

IR May 16, 1872 – City Council. – Kemp and Cleveland were granted a permit to build on the Triangle.

IR May 16, 1872 – A Fancy building is to be put up on the Triangle, without delay. Kemp and Cleveland have the contract. Lampman will occupy it with his jewelry store.

IR Sept. 4, 1872 – The Dolly Varden building on the Triangle is now finished, except a glass case to set over it to keep it from the weather.

IR Feb. 20, 1873 – Location of the new furnace. – Our readers will be gratified to learn that the question of the new furnace to be built by the Etna Iron Works has been settled and that Ironton is surely the lucky place. The Directors met last Tuesday evening and decided upon the Kemp lands near the Old Hecla Landing, scarcely a half mile above the corporation line. The tract of land which they have secured is about fifteen acres. The company purchased from Thos. and C. T. M. Kemp, and about five acres from John A. Witman. – Everyone will concede the excellence this action of the Directors. The site chosen is near the upper terminus of the Iron Railroad and is favorably situated in reference to river landing. There was much anxiety felt in this community upon this subject, and the fear lest that institution would be located out on the railroad, or some miles below town, prompted much speculation on the matter.

IR Dec. 4, 1873 – John A. Witman’s new house above town is the largest frame residence in all this region.

IR Aug 6, 1874 – Large Residence. – A visit was paid last Monday to J. A. Witman’s residence (large article – get copy – smk)

IR Apr. 30, 1874 – The foundations for the engine house and boiler house of the Etna Iron Works is completed and the Thomas W. Means brought the engines from Pittsburg on Saturday.

IR June 4, 1891 – Etna Iron Works. – Mr. Hartman, a furnace expert, is here as the representative of the purchasers of the Etna Iron Works, to examine the property, its resources and facilities for making iron. He has been here a week and has been diligent in inspecting every part of the vast property. … The sale of Etna works has not yet been confirmed, but there seems to be no doubt but the Court will favorably act in a few days.

IR June 25, 1891 – Confirmed. – The sale of the Etna Iron Works has been confirmed. Now, if we knew what the report sent here to investigate was, we could tell what the future of Etna Iron Works would be and how soon it would begin.

IR Feb. 5, 1874 – Kemp-Town has eight residences and one shingle mill, says an enterprising correspondent.

IR July 23, 1874 – Mr. Turner Kemp has graced his farm just above town with a beautiful $7,000 brick residence.

IR Nov. 26, 1874 – W. E. R. Kemp goes to the Shenandoah Valley this week to revisit the scenes of his childhood. Mrs. Kemp goes with him.

IR May 7, 1874 – W. E. R. Kemp has the contract for building F. D. Norton’s $12,000 residence.

IR Jan. 7, 1875 – W. E. R. Kemp got the contract for the proposed city building. His bid was $1,047.82. The highest bid was Levi Henry’s $1,263. There were seven bidders.

IR Apr. 20, 1876 – County Commissioners. – The bids for enlarging the Infirmary were opened, as follows: Jno. W. Porter, $4,600; Geo. Hamilton, 4,675; Kafer & Bro., $4,850; Robt. Shore, 4,800; Main & Thomas, 4,464; Jno. R. Shore, $4,887; W. E. R. Kemp, $4,119. The contract was awarded to W. E. R. Kemp.

IR June 8, 1882 – Awarded. – The following are the bids on the contract for building H. A.Marting’s residence and stable: House Stable W. E. R. Kemp 2650.00 488.00 Enterprise Co. 2599.00 485.00 Evans & Chase 2604.00 448.00 T. W. Hall 2641.00 441.00 J. W. Porter 2850.00 417.50 J. W. Main 2936.00 514.00 The contracts were awarded to Enterprise Co. for the house, and to J. W. Porter for the stable.

IR Aug. 30, 1883 – W. E. R. Kemp says he keeps 13 carpenters at work now.

IR Oct. 4, 1883 – A plat has been prepared laying off the strip of land on the river side of the pike above town between the elm tree and T. W. Kemp’s property where he lives, into lots. John Campbell and H. S. Neal are the owners of the property laid off. Thee are about 60 lots in the piece, half of which front on the pike and half toward the river, with an alley between the two rows of lots, (do not have end)

IR May 26, 1887 – L. M. Henry and W. E. R. Kemp adjusted the loss on John Hannon’s house. They agreed upon $316.

IR July 28, 1887 – Mr. Frank Prine is here from Columbus to work for W. E. R. Kemp on B. F. Ellsberry’s house.

IR Mar. 8, 1888 – Mr. Selb is receiving bids for his new business block on the corner of Second and Olive, and will award the contract this week. The building will be 44 x 72 feet, divided into two store rooms with iron fronts, the barber shop occupying the corner room, with living rooms at the rear and overhead. Both floors of the other half of the block will be for store purposes. Mr. Kemp made the drawings.

IR Nov. 17, 1887 – BEGUN WORK – The Platting Commission appointed by Council to plot the territory in the Whitwell Annexation has entered actively upon the discharge of its duties. Several meetings have been held. The Commission organized by electing John Campbell, President and J. R. C. Brown, Secretary. A resolution that the streets of Ironton, 4th, 5th, 6th, &c.;, shall be extended in a straight line through the new territory, and that the cross streets in Nixon’s, Donohoe’s, T. W. and C. T. M. Kemp’s and the Second National Bank additions be extended as started was adopted. The City Engineer was directed to make a survey of Seventh street as extended and place stakes at the intersection of cross streets for the Commissioner’s inspection. The propriety of making a wider avenue than the present street, either of 7th 8th or 9th streets is being considered.

IR June 7, 1888 – Merchants Block – W. E. R. Kemp has the contract for rebuilding Merchant’s Block. There will be four store buildings, with no connections between them, and fire walls to separate the roofs. No space will be left between the new buildings and the Opera House block. Each of the stores except where the stone front is standing, will have cast and galvanized iron fronts, and will have large plate glass windows and recess entrances. The design provides for a grand center staircase in the back part of each store room except the corner room, and big skylights over the stair landing, the arrangement being that each store shall occupy both the first and second floor. The corner building will have two double offices on the second floor, with an entrance on Center street.

IR June 28, 1888 – Moses Haynes, another old citizen, died last Friday. He had been a resident of Ironton since 1854….. He was at one time in partnership with W. E. R. Kemp in the carpentering business and helped build many of the older homes. … He was born in Covington, Va., 75 years ago….

IR Oct. 30, 1890 – Death of Mrs. C. T. M. Kemp. – …Mrs. Adelia Kemp, wife of the late C. T. M. Kemp, died at her home in Whitwell. Her age was 54 years… [Maiden name was Johnston, sister to Seliman, Frank and the late Col. Sam’l C. Johnston]

IR Feb. 18, 1892 – RE Transfers

Mary A. Kemp to Fidelia B. Wait. pt. lot 4, Kemp’s dower estate $600.

IR May 5, 1892 – Bids. – A roomful of contractors and other interested parties gathered at T. D. Shirkey’s office Tuesday night to see the bids opened for the I. O. O. F. temple. There were four bids for the whole work as follows: T. R. Hall, $27,900; D. C. Jones, of Columbus, $33,500; J. F. Ewing, of Fostoria, $35,700; Kemp & Foster, $27,105.86. The contract will be awarded to the latter firm, with some minor changes in the plan to reduce the cost.

IR May 21, 1896 – Improvements. – Joseph Lloyd will build a four room addition to his home, on 5th near Jefferson, with front porch, new front stairway and hard wood finish. Llewelyn Williams has the contract to build, from plans by Mr. Kemp.

IR Feb. 21, 1901 – A Whitwell Blaze – The frame residence at 593 South Fifth Street, near Kemp avenue, owned and occupied by Frank Compton and family, was almost totally destroyed by fire about 8 p.m. last Friday…Mrs. Kelly, a neighbor, discovered the damage…The residence of Abraham Wagner was slightly damaged…

IR Aug. 22, 1901 – Mrs. Karl Kemp returned Friday from a visit of two weeks with relatives at Gallipolis.

IR Dec. 18, 1902 – Mrs. K. C. Kemp is home from a 2 week’s visit with friends and relatives in Gallia county.

IR Dec. 25, 1902 – Wm. Bonham, a prominent attorney of Fairfield, Ill., is visiting his cousin, Mrs. Karl Kemp.

IR Mar. 3, 1904 – Kemp Lands – Which Were Recently Purchased By The Ohio Real Estate Company Will Shortly Be Improved and Placed on the Market for Sale. – Ironton is shortly to witness important movements in the real estate line, to be inaugurated by the Ohio Real Estate Company, the corporation which some weeks ago purchased the well known Kemp property in the Fourth Ward. Several unsuccessful efforts have been made at various times to secure this property, which has long been in demand for residence purposes, and the new owners propose to put it into desirable shape and market the lots without delay. – The active purchasers connected with the deal are C. I. Lirkle, S. H. Bowman, and S. A. Moore, bankers from Philippi, W. Va., who are in the city today, completing arrangements for grading and making other improvements on the property which will be placed in the best of condition. For this purpose a large sum of money will be expended. A number of local gentlemen are associated with the company, among whom are A. H. Mittendorf, Captain J. F. Morgan, J. F. McConnell, F. L. McCauley, F. _. Martin, T. C. Edwards, Jas. I. Gorman, E. J. Merrill, F. C. Tomlinson, D. C. Davies and W. A. Murdock. The property, which is very favorably situated is one of the best in the city.

SWI June 4, 1907 – Items of General Interest from South Side – … Thos. Kemp, who has been the guest of his daughter, Mrs. Park Warren, of Pittsburg, has returned home.

Have questions? Contact Nicole Cox at (740) 646-4104. We hope to see you there!

COVID-19 Information: Serving our community SAFELY is our #1 priority during this difficult time. The Museum is open and operating with certain restrictions, such as occupancy limits and increased sanitization practices. We encourage you to visit wearing a mask and practicing safe social distancing. Docents are available to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Check out some of our most popular links:

To report a problem or to submit content, send me an email here.

About Lawrence County, Ohio

Lawrence County, Ohio borders the Ohio River at the Southernmost part of the state. Six architecturally interesting bridges span the Ohio River, connecting Lawrence County with various locations in both Kentucky and West Virginia. Because of these bridges, metropolitan Ashland, KY and Huntington, WV are just minutes away from virtually anywhere in the county.

Lawrence County Ohio was organized December 20, 1816, the first Court of Common Pleas was organized March 4, 1817. In 2016, Lawrence County celebrated its Bicentennial… click here to view photos of the Grand Finale event.

The first election was held April 7, 1817, with Joseph Davidson, Joel Bowen, and David Spurlock elected county commissioners. Their first meeting was held Monday afternoon, April 21, 1817, at the home of Joseph Davidson in Burlington.

Lawrence County, Ohio was named after Capt. James Lawrence, a native of Burlington, NJ and a gallant naval officer of the War of 1812.

Lawrence County was home to 23 blast furnaces and was once the world leader in pig iron production.

The county seat is Ironton, where you will find our government offices, restaurants, museum, library, splash park, civic organizations, and is home of the famous Memorial Day Parade.

Check out what’s new in Lawrence County, with the Lawrence County Guide Book. 

%d bloggers like this: