Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore Funeral Home is considered an excellent example of a Victorian mansion. The home was built by the William Gamble family from 1893 to 1894. The land was purchased from a business acquaintance of his, Agusta Heidrich, and was originally three residential lots. Mr. Heidrich had already laid the foundation for a home on the property when he sold the land.
While it seems very lavish today, the Gamble home was considered “understated” for its time. It has many of the typical Queen Anne architectural details, including the bay windows or oriels located on the front and side of the home. There were once porches across the entire front of the home, as was customary for the time. The home also featured a conservatory, common for growing vegetables and herbs indoors during inclement weather. Beautiful and ornate examples of both stained glass and beveled windows highlighted the residence. The outside of the home included a grand square tower at the northwest corner, a polygonal bay on the northeast and a patterned slate roof with ornamentation crowned by three corbelled chimneys. A stately two-story carriage house was erected at the rear of the property. It was there that the horses were stabled, carriages stored and the servants quarters were located. It is now used as a four-car garage for the funeral home vehicles.
Upon entering the funeral home you are immediately struck by the woodwork, stained glass and decorative plaster ceilings. Some other impressive features of the home are the three arches welcoming you into the gracious foyer perched on stately columns and surrounded by beautifully handcrafted moldings. The grand stairway has two landings lined by spindles and large carved balusters leading to the top. While no specific documentation was found, it was rumored that the stairway was originally intended for another home and, after it was rejected, the architect used it instead in the Gamble home. Most homes of the day often had ballrooms on the third floor, as did the Gamble home. The family, however, chose to have a gymnasium in its place because of their religious convictions and opposition to the activities that social balls encouraged. There is still some equipment remaining in place today, such as a pulley weight-lifting system, swinging rings and a pull-up bar.
Over the years and after several owners, the home has been modified but still maintains its integrity. The series of porches that wrapped the front of the home have since been removed. The original slate roofs on the home and carriage house have been replaced with asphalt shingles. The conservatory was eliminated to allow for remodeling of the main floor when the home was replaced by a business. Nevertheless, the front rooms remain much the same, with the old grandeur still shining through. The Parramore family added an additional chapel at the back of the building in 1978. What were once modest family bedrooms on the second floor of the home is now an up-to-date and reconfigured 2200-square-foot modernized apartment, with much of the old charm remaining. There are stained glass windows in almost every room, as well as four original fireplaces. Air conditioning was installed around 1943 by Gebhart Schmidt, and the old heating system was converted from coal to gas in 1958 under the ownership of Mr. Rich and Mr. Parramore.
William Gamble was born in Genesco, New York, in 1833, and came to Cincinnati in 1850 to work. Five years later he moved to Dayton and joined the dry-goods firm Douglas and Gamble. In 1860 he married Samantha Hoover, daughter of a local Miamisburg business owner. In 1865 Mr. Gamble became a member of a book firm in Cincinnati called Gates, Gamble, and Gates before becoming a representative of the firm’s branch in Nashville, Tennessee. The Gambles returned to Miamisburg in 1871 after Samantha’s father passed away. They lived in her father’s home at the southeast corners of Linden and Miami avenues until they eventually purchased the property at 508 E. Linden Avenue where the mansion was built when Mr. Gamble was nearly 60 years of age.
Mr. Gamble was associated with many financial and business institutions, including president of Citizens National Bank, which later merged with the First National Bank of Miamisburg, and director of the Dayton Savings and Trust and Bookwalter Wheel Co. He also was in business with his wife’s family through Hoover and Gamble Manufacturers of Miamisburg and owned several farms in the area. Mr. Gamble was known as an ardent horse lover, trading and selling horses on a stock farm in Iowa.
Mr. and Mrs. Gamble had two children, daughter Ida and son William. William remained a bachelor and was an accomplished pianist. He became part of the Acme Boat Co. and was a successful area businessman in his own right. Daughter Ida married Thomas V. Lyons and they had one child, Thomas G. Lyons. The Gamble home remained in the family until 1940, when Mr. Gamble’s grandson, Thomas G. Lyons, sold it to Mr. Gebhart and Mr. Schmidt. Mr. Gamble died in 1908.
Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore Funeral Home last had the privilege of serving the Lyons family in April 2008 with the passing of Thomas V. Lyons, great-grandson of Mr. Gamble.
Howard G. Gebhart and Elwood Schmidt bought a funeral business and the original building at 57 S. Main Street from Mrs. Herbert Apple in 1925. We have located records from Jackson and Apple Funeral Directors of Miamisburg dating 1904-1922, which is consistent with the records of purchase. In 1930 Mr. Gebhart and Mr. Schmidt moved the location of the business to 16 N. Main Street.
Bill Schmidt, Elwood’s son, remembers that the 16 N. Main Street building was both a furniture store and a funeral home. The furniture was sold on one side and the funeral chapel was on the other side. The mortuary was in the back of the building, and the casket storage and showroom were upstairs on the second level. An old advertisement was found for an ambulance service that was run out of this location. Bill recalls that when his father and Mr. Gebhart were thinking of buying the old Gamble mansion that they thought the Gamble place would make a real nice funeral home. They finalized their decision to purchase the property in 1940. A copy of the bill of sale shows no dollar amount, but it is coded with a stamp system commonly used in that day. The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office retains a stamp conversion to dollar amount key that indicated the property sold to Mr. Gebhart and Mr. Schmidt was for $9,900. They remained in the funeral business until they retired in 1947.
The Gebhart Schmidt Funeral Home became Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore in 1947 when Carl Parramore and Wilbur Rich partnered to purchase the business from Mr. Gebhart and Mr. Schmidt. They were dedicated to continuing the legacy of service, compassion and care to area families and the Miamisburg community. This was not just a business for these individuals; it was a family duty, with Margaret, Mr. Parramore’s wife, working as a bookkeeper from 1968 alongside her husband and later with their son, Doug, when he turned 17.
Mr. and Mrs. Parramore and their sons, Roger and Doug, lived in the upstairs apartment from 1948 until 1957 when they built and moved to their home on Maue Avenue in Miamisburg. The Parramores entered the funeral business because an uncle in Kentucky was in the business.
Mr. Rich became ill and retired to Florida in 1968. Mr. Parramore remained as head of the business with son Doug working at his side until 1980 when Mr. and Mrs. Parramore retired. It was then that Doug began his tenure as sole director of the business and had a long successful career with Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore Funeral Home. While Doug and his wife have recently retired and are often out of town, he remains as consultant with the business and still assists families as he is available. The current staff of Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore is dedicated to continuing this legacy of family, service and community that began so many decades ago. We are proud to be a part of such a long-standing tradition. It is our privilege to preserve this historical building and share its unique heritage with the community.
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