Follow the purple arrows on the signs as you walk
Dorothy Gish purchased this home in the mid-1900s for her aunt, with whom the Gish sisters had stayed between acting gigs when they were child stars of traveling theatre troupes. When their mother, also an actress, had acting jobs with other casts, and the girls were between jobs, they stayed in Massillon, but not in this home. As adults, when they visited Massillon, they stayed here.
Both girls attended school in Massillon during the short times when they lived with their Aunt Emily. In her autobiography written and illustrated for children, Lillian recounts her summer term at Franklin Elementary.
Their career on stage turned to silent films and later talkies as technology advanced. Lillian, who became known as the “First Lady of American Cinema,” played leading roles for 75 years from 1912 to 1987. She received a Special Academy Award in 1971 and an American Film Institute Lifetime Award in 1984. You can find a star with her handprint on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
While Lillian played serious dramatic roles and lived very conservatively, Dorothy most often starred in comedies and lived a more raucous life.
During the 1951 dedication of Massillon’s massive flood control and railroad safety project, Lillian ceremoniously threw a wreath from the new Lincoln Way viaduct into the Tuscarawas River. Her final return to Massillon was in 1984. Speaking from the pulpit at St. Timothy’s church, she said “if she could ever consider any place besides New York as home, she might consider Massillon.” Lillian died just short of her 100th birthday.
Directions: Keep walking south to the next corner, Thorne Avenue, and look at the yellow brick home with the graceful curved porch with double ionic columns and stone lions’ heads. It’s 225 Fourth Street.