Shortly after the Civil War, German-born John Fink built this frame Italianate house, which remained in  the family until just after World War II.

It features attractive gingerbread and scrollwork on the front entry, with square supporting porch posts.

Most of the windows have wooden pediments. The wing on the east (left) side is likely an addition. 

Very little is known about John Fink himself.

The Fink House

208 East Indiana Ave.

2712.jpg

In 1921, Frederick Schaller, a retired farmer walked into the office of a Perrysburg man and dumped on his desk a sack of gold pieces, stacks of currency, and a packet of Liberty Bonds (all totaling about $6,000) and said he was giving it to the American Legion Post for a community memorial to his two children who had died in infancy and to local war veterans. 

It took nine years (ca. 1930) before this Neo-Colonial Revival building was erected, just beating the deadline Schaller had set, after which the money was to be returned to his family.

It had required two public fund-raising drives for another $16,000 to meet the inflated cost. The city donated the land for the memorial building. It was designed by Harold H. Munger of Britsch & Munger Architects and is one of several buildings outside the Historic District that is on the National Register. 

Frederick Schaller farmed about three miles west of Perrysburg along the River Road. Born in Switzerland, he came here in 1851 and was a Civil War veteran serving in the 111th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

The Schaller Memorial

130 West Indiana Ave.

2691.jpg

Based on architectural or historical interest, this small, modest house at 220 West Indiana is a well-qualified candidate. From an architectural standpoint, it represents a bit of Americana, and from a local history standpoint, it was the home (at least its predecessor was) of town marshal Frank Thornton, who was killed in line of duty over 100 years ago and who, in 1998, was finally honored with installation of a special grave marker.

The site of the house was first acquired from the land office in Wooster, Ohio, in 1824 by Marshall Key, a Kentuckian who later was an early Perrysburg resident.

Over the years it passed through the hands of at least 11 owners, never being sold for more than $700. Mr. and Mrs. Thornton acquired it for $600 in 1889. Whether a house stood on it then is questionable, but if so it was obviously very small.

According to the Thorntons’ granddaughter, Mrs. Lucille Pitney of Swanton, a fire in 1913 did enough damage to the original house that it was replaced by the one pictured above -- a Sears and Roebuck kit house.

It was at about this time in the early 1900s that Sears was offering via catalog many as 22 models of houses that sold for as low as $650 up to several thousand. The ready-cut houses were shipped with assembly instructions, having every board, stud and joist numbered, along with shingles, roofing and flooring. The shipping was easily accommodated as the railroad is only a block away.

Sears kit houses was a big business until the Depression years. Another example of one is said to be at 405 West Fifth Street.

About Mr. Thornton, on December 28, 1905, he received a tip that five strangers suspected of criminal intent were in town. The marshal confronted them in a restaurant on Louisiana Avenue and when he and a deputy attempted to arrest them, they drew weapons and in a shoot-out, the marshal was badly wounded. After initial attention, he was carried trolley here and taken to a Toledo hospital where he died a week later.

Three generations of Thorntons continue to live in the house until it was sold out of the family in 1987.

The Thornton House

220 West Indiana Ave.

41_aThorton.jpg

Much has been written about the historic old Wood County Jail, now an apartment building at 240 West Indiana Avenue at the corner of Findlay Street.

In 1822 Congress enacted a law vesting the title of all unsold lots in Perrysburg to the Wood County commissioners on condition that the county seat be moved here from Maumee and a courthouse and jail be built. If this sounds unusual, it must be remembered that Perrysburg had been created by an act of Congress just six years earlier and was still a wild timbered tract of land with virtually no inhabitants. In fact, there were slightly less than 200 people in all of Wood County at the time.

The following year, the Exchange Hotel and the first courthouse, a two-story log building located nearby along the blazed trail that was to become West Front Street, were built. Material from the jail at Maumee was moved here at a cost of $48, plus an additional $25 allocated for repairs incidental to the move. Square logs were cut, most of them within walking distance of the site, and a two-story jail built with little more than slits for windows. It is said that the contractor took part of the cost (a little over $400) in the form of town lots worth $12 each.

This original jail was soon found to be too small and was enlarged, but it lasted until 1847 when the present building -- a veritable fortress by comparison -- was built on Indiana Avenue. This is now by far the oldest civic structure in town.

From a security standpoint, the new jail was a work of art. Actually, it was the work of a now unknown architect who was paid all of $15 for designing and supervising its construction by Schuyler Beach, a local builder and merchant. The cost was $1,250.

The frame of the building is of black walnut hand-hewn beams with rafters and joints mortised and pinned with wooden pegs. The walls are made of four layers of small handmade brick, but in the jail section proper, the walls and floor are of stone blocks three feet long, two feet thick and two feet high. These are held together by cannonball keys set in hemispheres cut in the top and side of each block. Within these walls was an 8 x 30-foot bullpen with six 5 x 6-foot cells. The bullpen door consisted of two thicknesses of walnut plank one and one half inches thick, with a sheet of lead between and held together by dozens of large iron rivets. One of the original cell doors, made of iron mesh and weighing about 250 pounds, is still intact.

The front of the first floor was the sheriff's residence, and over the years seven different sheriffs lived and worked here. The upstairs was once used as an infirmary for the dangerously insane.

Needless to say, there was never a breakout due to an insecure structure. But there was an escape attempt shortly after the Civil War. Charles Evers, who was to become a Wood County historian, was sheriff at the time when two prisoners ambushed him when he entered the bullpen. His wife, following closely, quickly slammed and locked the door. Mrs. Evers assured them she would never unlock it, even when they threatened to kill her husband. Her plucky gamble paid off and they eventually sulked back to their cells. Even so, a caged prisoner seems never without hope. Many years later a rusty hacksaw blade was found in a crack in the plaster above the door of one cell.

The jail continued in use until 1870 when the county seat moved to Bowling Green. The village then took it over and operated it as the local jail, at least for the time under the care of George B. Crook who was given free residence plus 75 cents per day per prisoner. In 1899 the village built the old brick municipal building adjoining the west side of what is now Mills Hardware on West Second Street. This housed city hall, the police and fire departments and two portable jail cells until the present facilities were built at Indiana Avenue and Hickory Street.

In 1918 William Schlect bought the old county jail building, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hoffmann Sr. later acquired it from him. Charles and Daisy Hoffmann purchased it from his parent's estate in 1957 and remodeled it into a three-apartment facility, carefully preserving its architectural and historical integrity. In 1960 it became the second Perrysburg building to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009, Sharon and David Hoffmann, the fourth owners, moved back to Perrysburg from Dallas and decided to make the jail their home.

The Old County Jail

240 West Indiana Ave.

28oldcountyjail.jpg

At one time 343 West Indiana Avenue was on the outskirts of town. But it was there that a German settler by the name of Yeager chose his homestead. Because of their later prominence and the fact that as many as four generations of the family lived there right up until 1985, this article will focus on more than just the builder -- who is unknown.

The first Yeager occupant of the house, built in the 1830s, was John J. Yeager, a farmer immigrant from Alsace, France, who came to Perrysburg in 1842. His name is listed as the owner of the property in county records of 1848.

When he arrived here he stayed at the Spafford Exchange Hotel and the next day went to work for John Hollister, an influential merchant and businessman in town. Later, two of Mr. Yeager's grandparents arrived here from Alsace just eight weeks before the cholera epidemic of 1854 and both were victims.

Exactly what occupation he pursued is not clear, but at the outbreak of the Civil War he organized a company of infantry of which he was captain, a local title kept for the rest of his life. The group became a part of the 111th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and Mr. Yeager was present at the siege of Knoxville and several other engagements. He was discharged in 1864 due to illness.

He later became a Wood County commissioner, was a founder of Wolford Post, G.A.R., and an elder in the Methodist Church. He died in 1891, passing along the house to his son, Frederick.

The house is a frame Greek Revival of two and one-half stories and is described as a "temple" style farm house. The front entrance is of simple Greek composition without sidelights but with a recessed door. The front pediment contains a triangular light (window), the roof has a shallow pitch (it was originally tin) and there is a broad fascia. Their return at the gable ends are characteristic of its style. The house formerly had shutters on all windows.

Frederick Yeager, who was born here in 1844, operated Yeager Dry Goods for 22 years. He attended Baldwin-Wallace College and when the call to arms came he, like his father, joined the Union army and saw combat. Upon his return he farmed for three years before embarking in the mercantile business. During his long lifetime (he died at 85 in 1929), he was Perrysburg's mayor and postmaster, township clerk, township treasurer, county treasurer and served on the school board for 11 years.

Next in line was Frederick's son, John O. Yeager. He was born in 1870 and during his 75 years here served as mayor and the superintendent of the Methodist Church Sunday school. His daughter, Madelyn (Mrs. Lee Hartshorn), was born in 1893. She was the first registered nurse to graduate from Ohio State University and she lived in the family house until making her residence at Heartland of Perrysburg where she died at 95 in May of 1990, leaving no immediate relatives.

The Yeager House is another Perrysburg property on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Yeager House

343 West Indiana Ave.

47yeager.jpg

This house at 519 West Indiana has a particular advantage not enjoyed by virtually any other. It will never have termites. That’s because it’s an all-steel Lustron house—one of only about 25 in the entire Toledo area.

Other pre-fabricated houses included a Sears, Roebuck house at 220 West Indiana (another is said to be at 721 West Boundary.)

In addition, we are told of at least one Montgomery Ward version in town and several other prefabricated houses, including one at 808 Walnut, two on Second Street and several on Seventh.These, along with this Lustron house, have more to do with type of construction than architectural significance, but they are part of our historic heritage that evolved during a period following 1940. They are all prefabricated and, in some cases, that included packaged plumbing, heating and kitchen units.

Urgency was the motivation behind this movement. Some 10 million World War II servicemen came home needing inexpensive family housing, and this was one of the answers to the problem.

The 31' x 35’ rectangular house pictured here, built in 1949 or possibly 1950 (records aren’t clear), is truly all metal. The exterior walls are of 24”square porcelain enameled panels attached to the house’s metal frame, the interior walls resemble normal wood paneling, the green-colored roof resembles shingles, the ceiling and even the closet and cabinet doors are metal. Color, baked into the enamel, is dove gray outside and the original interior was a maize yellow, but is now an off-white.

Radiant heat is circulated through the space between the walls and picture windows provide plenty of light. 

Popular features of the original Lustron home were a dishwasher that converted into a clothes washer, and of course the outside and inside walls could be wiped clean with a damp cloth (not to mention they could be waxed like a car). It never had to be repainted, and interior walls could be rearranged or a room added like an Erector set toy.

Homeowners even got a thick book showing how every part of the house was bolted together and what replacement or additional parts could be ordered.

Before metal houses were developed, a Chicago-based company had been producing easy-to-clean porcelain- enameled steel panels for gas stations and restaurants. The federal government, still controlling the use of steel, eagerly approved and helped finance their idea of mass produced steel panel houses and two Chicago architects provided the design-about 1,000 square feet in a five- room one-story floor plan. There were eventually three sizes offered, ranging in price from $7,000 to $12,000. An almost new aircraft plant in Columbus, leased from the government, was converted into a factory.

Unfortunately, the company could not meet payments on its government loan and production commitments, and it went out of business in 1950 after only two years, having produced only 2,498 homes. Judging from the one here, these few will still be existing in good condition many generations from now.  

The Lustron House

519 West Indiana Ave.

23lustron.jpg