The Davis-Shai House is a Gothic Revival home whose architectural style is attributed locally to Andrew Jackson Downing, a nationally prominent landscape architect whose book, Cottage Residences, was widely distributed from the 1840s to the 1880s. The home’s graceful lines and proportions, the steeply pitched roofs and the distinctive cutout “gingerbread” bargeboards remain intact and in good condition, even though the house has weathered 140 winters.
Jackson Davis built the “all brick” home in 1861 along the Ohio and Erie Canal. Foundation stones were brought by canal boats, and the bricks were fired in a kiln on the building site.Members of the Davis family occupied the house from 1861 until 1945 when Joseph P. Shai bought the home at auction. Dr. Joseph P. Shai II, a respected local dentist, acquired the Davis-Shai House in 1960 from his father, who purchased it at auction in 1945, following the death of Mary Alice Davis and her stepsister and caregiver Nellie Ellen Armstrong. Dr. Shai resided in the home until his estate was sold in 1995 to developers.The Shai estate, located on the corner of Rt. 79 and Central Parkway in Heath, was sold to developers in 1995. In keeping with the wishes of the late Joseph P. Shai II, the new owners, Patricia L. and Wayne F. Farnsworth Jr. and Marge and Jack Goodin, donated the house to the City of Heath.In much of 2000 and 2001, thanks to the generosity of Heath area businesses and residents, the house underwent a major renovation to become the city’s cultural and historical showplace.