Mount Saint Martin

Mount Saint Martin

Condensed from an article by Jim Reis in Pieces of the Past, Volume 3, pages 211-214 and reprinted here with his permission.

The castle was best known in the years before its demolition as Mount St. Martin.  The history of the castle goes back decades.  It was originally the Jones Mansion, built as the honeymoon home of Thomas Laurens Jones and Mary Keturah Taylor.  Mary was the granddaughter of General James Taylor.  She was born in Newport in 1831 the daughter of Colonel James Taylor and Susan Barry.  Mary's middle name came from her grandmother, Keturah Moss Leitch Taylor.

Mary's husband Thomas was the grandson of George Jones, a native of Maryland who served as a captain in the Revolutionary War.  His military service included action at Yorktown where British troops surrendered to American and French troops.  The surrender ended the war.  After the war, George Jones moved to Orange County, Virginia where he owned a plantation.  He later moved to North Carolina where his son George Jr. grew up.  George Jr. moved to Ashville where he married Elizabeth Mills, the daughter of Colonel William Mills.

The fifth son born to George and Elizabeth was Thomas Laurens Jones on January 22, 1819 on his father's estate, White Oak in Rutherford County, North Carolina.  In 1839 Thomas started at the College of Nassau Hall in Princeton, New Jersey.  He then went to Harvard Law School and graduated in 1843. He traveled Europe and settled in Charleston South Carolina to complete his law studies.  Jones and Mary were married September 12, 1848 and spent their honeymoon in England.

Mary's father offered the couple their choice of land in Newport and promised to build them a house of their design.  They picked a site atop a hill above Newport with a panoramic view of the city, Cincinnati and the Ohio River.  Today the site is a busy intersection of US 27 and Carothers Road.

Creation of the home began in 1851 when Cincinnati architect Robert A Lowe was hired to transform the couple's memories of the Italian-style villa in England into building plans.  Thomas Wescott of Campbell County was hired for the construction.  When completed in 1853, the mansion had 22 rooms in three sections.

Mount Saint Martin

Soon after moving to Newport, Jones became involved in politics; he was elected to the legislature in 1853 and 1855. He ran for state treasurer in 1857 but lost.  At the beginning of the Civil War Jones sympathized with the South but opposed secession. In July 1862 Jones was arrested by Union military officials and taken to the Newport Barracks and later transferred to Camp Chase along Lake Erie in Ohio.  He was held for three months and released.

As a Democrat in 1866, 1868 and 1874, Jones won elections to Congress.  On April 17, 1879, the only daughter of Thomas and Mary, Elizabeth Mills Jones married Colonel Brent Arnold at the St. Paul Episcopal Church. They also had two sons James Taylor Jones and Lauren Jones.

  Jones was a state presidential elector in 1880 and a state delegate to Chicago in 1884.  He died July 20, 1887.  His wife Mary sold the Jones Mansion to the Diocese of Covington on September 7, 1889 and it became the provincial house for the Sisters of Divine Providence. Bishop Camillus Maes blessed the building October 20, 1889 and renamed it Mount St. Martin.  That same year a girl's school called Mount St. Martin Academy opened in the convent with three students.

A chapel was added to the Mount St. Martin property in August 1893. Mary Keturah Jones, who had moved into a home at Fifth and Park Avenue in Newport died in February 1896, and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery. The school outgrew the home and in 1903, the school was moved to a new building on East 5th Street in Newport.  It was the beginning of Our Lady of Providence Academy. 

The Sisters of Divine Providence continued to use Mount St. Martin as a convent until May 16, 1910 when St. Anne's was opened in Melbourne.  Mount St. Martin was remodeled and made into a home for working girls and opened in January 1920.  It later became a retirement home for elderly women but that closed in 1974.  It was used in 1975 as a home for Vietnamese refugees, but put up for sale in 1976. 

The building was torn down for construction of the Kmart shopping plaza in the early 1990s before citizens could protest the destruction of a historic building.

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