Douglas Putnam got rich by investing in real estate and the first railroad to connect Parkersburg, WV and Marietta, Ohio. He used his money to build a spacious home for his second bride, Eliza Whipple Putnam. The Tuscan-style villa on Putnam Avenue (originally called Putnam Place) took ten years to build and cost $65,000 which was a lot of money in that time. When it was finally completed, Eliza moved in where she shortly died from heart disease at the age of 53.
Over the years it has passed from owner to owner. A nursing home used the complex, including the mansion, to house patients. That is when it became known as the Christian Anchorage. It received this name because of its distinctive, anchor-shaped driveway. Even after the nursing home sold it to Marietta Memorial Hospital, who then sold it to the Washington County Historical Society for one dollar, people continued to refer to it as The Anchorage.
Another rumor attached to the house is that it was used by the Putnams as a way station on the Underground Railroad. Supposedly a tunnel leads from the subcellar to a steep bank on the Muskingum River, just up from its confluence with the Ohio. This seems unlikely, since such a tunnel would have had to have been pretty long. Also, it’s a widespread misconception that the Underground Railroad really involved a lot of literal underground activity. Mostly slaves were hidden in a back room and fed, clothed, given a place to sleep. Tunnels were very rarely involved.
Here are some pictures from my visit there. The property is currently in the process of historic preservation.