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Somerset County Then and Now

Then and Now

156-160 West Main Street

156-160 West Main Street


Address: 156-160 West Main Street
Built: 1876
Builder: Unknown
Previously: Home of Valentine Hay, Home and business of Martin Holderbaum
Presently: Carroll Law Offices, Nicholas Carroll Piano Tuner
Extant: Yes

Valentine Hay was born in Brothersvalley Township in 1834. He attended Heidelburg University in Tiffin, Ohio, graduating in 1857. Returning to Somerset County, he read law with William J Baer and was admitted to the bar in 1858. In 1863 he became owner and publisher of the Somerset Democrat before selling it to John J Hoffman in 1867. Though always maintaining his law practice, he engaged in a wide variety of business interests including real estate, timber, farming and banking. Notably, he was a founding partner of Somerset Electric Light, Heat & Power Company which brought electricity to Somerset in the 1890’s. Though of slight frame, Mr. Hay was well known for his tireless physical labor in farming and constructing buildings he owned. He once dug a well by hand so deep he had to call for help to extract himself from the hole.

His home at 156-160 West Main Street was built after the 1876 fire which destroyed his previous home on the same site. It is one of three nearly identical homes built at the same time. The other two being the Parker Building (now Findley’s Pharmacy) and the John H. Uhl house (now Somerset Galleries). Mr. Hay lived in the house until 1901 when he moved to Akron, Ohio to live near his only daughter. However, he grew homesick and after a few years moved back to Somerset where he took an apartment in The Somerset House where he died in 1916. The ground floor of the house was converted into two commercial spaces which housed numerous businesses over the years, notably Gross Jewelers who spent 37 years there. Today these spaces are shared by the Carroll Law Office and Nicholas Carroll, piano tuner.

Other business included:

Wagon Wheel Coin Shop
Beltone Hearing Aid Service
Somerset Thrift Corporation
Singer Sewing Machine Center
Bauman’s Bakery & The Candy Box
Mary Carter’s Paints
Somerset County Industrial Development Authority