The Isaly House

Today the Poland
Presbyterian Church Office at #2 Poland Manor Drive
(a.k.a. the Ray Residence, the Isaly House or the Parish House)

No date appears on this picture postcard but the photograph was probably taken shortly after Mr. Frank H. Ray (1852-1922) purchased the property in 1916. We know that he went to Poland Seminary, was a salesman and in 1904 organized the Central Store Co. of Youngstown. We do not know why he needed a 6 bedroom house with servant quarters over a 3 car garage. The garage sat between the house and the Presbyterian Church and had a circular driveway which connected to what was then called Yellow Creek Drive; now called Hine Circle. When Mr. Ray died, he was buried in Lot 380 of Poland’s Riverside Cemetery.
The history of the property where this house sits goes back to the time when Turhand Kirtland first surveyed Poland Village. He numbered this property “Lot #1” and kept it for his son, Henry. He also specified that the next lot north would be used for a church and then set aside another one acre parcel to be used as a cemetery. Mr. Kirtland’s plan was that the three acre woods between Lot #1 and Youngstown-Pittsburgh Road (Route 170) would be forever a public park. Today this park is known as the Poland Village Green. Henry Kirtland eventually inherited his father’s 300 plus acres located south and west of Village Lot #1. During the early part of the 20
th Century the Henry Kirtland Homestead was sold and was later developed into several hundred home sites and a portion of the Poland Forest.
Lot #1 has changed hands many times over the past 200 years. Henry Kirtland sold it to a Jacob Coon in 1861 who in turn found a buyer in Clark McGeehan in 1865. Mr. McGeehan built a small farm house and resided there for the next 50 years. Before Mr. Ray purchased Lot #1, the McGeehan house burned down. Mr. Ray only lived at #2 Poland Manor Dr. for six years. During the next 25 years the property changed hands two more times until it was purchased in 1941 by Mrs. Nellie Isaly, the widow of Mr. Chester C. Isaly. Mr. Isaly had been the president of the Isaly Diary Stores with headquarters in Youngstown and Pittsburgh until his untimely death in 1931.
Just for the record, Chester and Nellie were married in 1916 in Manfield, Ohio, where the Isaly Family had first started selling milk and cheeses. As the family business expanded, Chester was sent to the Youngstown area to manage the operations there. The company had just completed their new headquarters on Mahoning Avenue and was in the process of building another large dairy store on the Blvd. of the Allies in Pittsburgh when Mr. Isaly became extremely depressed. With many financial problems weighing on his mind, on March 23, 1931, Mr. Isaly committed suicide at the age of 44, leaving a wife and two daughters, Helen and Margaret, ages 9 and 12 respectfully. Today you will find three Isaly graves in the Lake Park Cemetery not far from the Old Rugged Cross and in Section B. The graves contain Chester (1887-1931), Nellie (1884-1974), and their daughter, Helen (1921-1997).

The Isaly Family Monument

On August 12, 1948, Nellie Isaly sold the house to the Poland Presbyterian Church. The church in turn began a large expansion program in the early 1950s by moving the original garage and servants quarters to the rear of the parking lot and connecting the church sanctuary to the former Isaly house. Today the old Ray residence is used by the church for its offices. The enclosed sun porch is now a conference room, the living room is the pastor’s office, the dining room is the secretary’s office and the kitchen has been converted to a passage way to the new educational wing. The large porch across the front of the house has not changed much in the past century. Of particular interest is the wide stairway leading to the second floor where more offices are located. At the stairway’s landing are beautiful stain glass windows which catch the afternoon sun; a reminder of the period when cost was no obstacle in building a mansion.