James Larmon was born February 1, 1852 in Paducah, Kentucky to James Larmon and Maria Louise Smedley. While he was still a young child, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois where his father built a considerable fortune in real estate and construction. Much like Charles Lapham, Larmon’s life was severely affected by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; almost all of his father’s buildings were destroyed, and his father passed away two years later without rebuilding his previously massive holdings.
How young James Larmon spent the remainder of the 1870s is largely unknown. Unlike Lapham, he does not appear in city directories or other common reference sites by which employment or address are commonly discovered. It is not until the 1880 Census that Larmon appears in Cincinnati as head of the newly-formed Cincinnati Barbed Wire Fence Company. Barbed wire had become remarkably lucrative during this time period, as ranchers out west were forced to fence their massive cattle ranches.
In 1884, Larmon married Harriet Mack, the daughter of English immigrants. A year later they adopted a son, Arthur. Larmon’s mother Maria remained close to her son, either living with the couple or traveling extensively with the young family to their favored vacation spots of Highlands, North Carolina, Palatka, Florida, and Charlevoix, Michigan. The details of the Larmons’ social life are scant; James supported the Salvation Army and the Children’s Home of Cincinnati, and later joined the exclusive Queen’s Club of Cincinnati.
The Larmons made their first visit to Thomasville for the winter season of 1892-1893, and stayed at the Piney Woods Hotel. They returned for the 1893-1894 season; before returning home in late March 1894, Larmon purchased the house at 626 North Dawson Street from Charles Lapham.
When the Larmons arrived for their first season at their new house in October 1894, the house and many of the outbuildings received a fresh coat of paint, which received a small mention in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise. The Larmons were not amongst any of the lists of partygoers at the hotels, suggesting a less civically engaged Thomasville life than the Lapham family.
On December 1, 1894, James Larmon left Thomasville on a business trip that eventually brought him through New Orleans then back to Cincinnati. While he was home, James visited the Queen’s Club, where he dropped dead of a heart attack on December 11th. Harriet Larmon returned home to Cincinnati to prepare for the funeral and settle her husband’s large estate. Larmon’s will provided well for his mother and wife, but one provision suggested a troubled relationship with their adopted son Artie: he would receive $20,000 when he turned 25, but only if he proved himself “sober and competent to manage it.”
Harriet Larmon returned to Thomasville the same winter in 1895, and attempted to sell the house. For reasons unknown, she took it off the market before returning home to Cincinnati in late April. According to announcements in the newspaper, Larmon returned to Thomasville most other winters she owned the house, but did not engage in the standard social activities of other northern visitors during her trips. Although it is unknown how many guests she had, one event suggests she would socialize at the house on occasion: on the day before Georgia’s liquor prohibition law was to take effect on January 1, 1899, her basement liquor storage was stolen; bars were then installed on the window openings to the basement. She did host her brother-in-law John, her mother-in-law, and son as visitors, but by most accounts she was an artist, and would spend her time in Thomasville painting, writing poetry, and creating pottery.
In September of 1905, James Gould Patterson purchased the house from Harriett Larmon. She returned to Ohio to the tony Cincinnati suburb of College Hill where she built a large mansion for herself, son Arthur, and his wife and children. It was there she passed away from cancer in 1913. Arthur’s family continued to live there until 1929, when he passed away. His widow, who inherited the Larmon fortune, soon remarried, moved to Florida, and sold the property to subdivision developers, who named their housing tract “Larmon Court.”