There is some doubt about the builder of this neat house at 308 East Front Street. One source says it is nearly 130 years old and might have been built before 1873 as a speculative property by one of Perrysburg's most prominent citizens, Judge Asher Cook, a self-made man without formal education, who was an early attorney here, mayor, probate judge, constitutional expert known statewide, and world-traveler.
The architectural style of the house is basically Italianate, with single brackets supporting a wide overhanging low-pitched roof. Portions of the foundation are of rubblestone, some of it covered with stucco or brick, and the second floor facade windows have molded pediments while the downstairs are simple.
Double Doric columns support a flat-roofed porch with diamond- patterned windows. A veranda-style porch also with supporting columns and a balustrade is on the second floor on the east side, and stair-stepped-gable extensions have been made in the rear. A one-story bay window is on the west side.
An early resident of this house before the turn of the century was Christopher Finkbeiner, a well-known and interesting Perrysburg (and later Bowling Green and East Toledo) businessman.
Mr. Finkbeiner came here from Germany in 1847, first earning a livelihood driving a dray. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 he and three other local teenagers left school one day and enlisted in an infantry company being organized at Stony Ridge. He served in the 72nd O. V. I. regiment under General Sherman. He was sent home with typhoid fever in 1862, but he re-enlisted in the 3rd Ohio Cavalry and took part in battles at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Knoxville, and Atlanta. He was wounded in Alabama and lost a lower leg. He worked for a time in a stave factory here, clerked in a store and in 1867 opened a store dealing in books and notions. Later he merchandised gentlemen's furnishings and furniture and for a time was a traveling salesman in wooden ware.
Over the years Christopher Finkbeiner was Perrysburg's postmaster, a councilman and mayor, township clerk and Wood County recorder. He died in 1926 at the age of 81.
The Cook-Finkbeiner House
308 East Front St.
It's many people's favorite Victorian home in Perrysburg, has looked out from 315 East Front Street for over 150 years now, and it was built by James M. Hall.
Local records don't reveal a great deal about early pioneer James Manning Hall, other than he was a member of the Presbyterian Church and active in the Masonic lodge. The Brattleboro Vermont Phoenix newspaper of March 4, 1847 has this notice of his untimely death: "In Perrysburgh, Ohio, on the 8th ult. Mr. James Manning Hall, formerly of Brattleboro, Vermont, and son of Hon. Jarius Hall, aged 38 years."
He lived here as early as 1836 and bought the property on which he was to build this house in 1843. It is believed that the house was erected around 1850, one of four he is said to have built here.
This is a showcase example of Italianate architecture in Northwest Ohio, and like so many of our old homes, it has been excellently preserved. One notable feature is the wide friezeboard with the three windows covered by ornamental metal fretwork, and the paired brackets met by connecting bed molding. There is a truncated hip roof with iron cresting and tall, shuttered windows, speaking of which, some original windows on the west have been bricked in. A main chimney near the southwest corner of the house has extensive brick corbelling and a cut-out center with twin vents. The semi-circular portico overhang, added in the 1930s, has full Ionic entablature with fluted Doric columns. Two-story bays on the east and west sides (also additions) have carved stone lintels. An ocular window above an added multi-paned picture window on the west side is original. Sidelights flank a single entrance door with an etched glass transom.
James Hall operated a dry goods and grocery store and at one time also sold fire insurance. He was Perrysburg's postmaster in 1842, a village councilman in 1857 and secretary of the Hydraulic Canal Company that powered local manufacturing firms of the era.
He was a Presbyterian, charter member of Phoenix Lodge, F. & A. M. and one of the contributors toward a $15,000 bond providing for the construction of a county courthouse (later the now razed Town Hall) in hopes that the county seat would be returned here from Bowling Green.
The J.M. Hall House
315 East Front St.
This grand old house that sits well back from the street at 321 East Front Street was built for Caroline Hunt, widow of Lewis Cass Hunt whose family was very prominent and whose father was a pioneer resident here in 1818.
Hunt's father, General John E. Hunt, as a teenager accompanied General William Hull's army from Dayton to Detroit, marching through the Black Swamp here before there was a Fort Meigs, an Orleans of the North or a Perrysburg. He was not a soldier at the time. He later came back here to live.
The house is of the Italianate style (Tuscan mode) and it was built around 1863 -- possibly while Lewis Cass Hunt was serving in the Civil War. It features a hip roof supported by paired incised brackets and dentils set against a wide friezeboard. Bay windows on both sides are typical of the Italianate style. Facade windows are 2/1 double-hung sash with entablature heads and shutters. The entrance portico, on the west side of the front, features a hip roof and more paired brackets and Tuscan-Italianate supporting columns. Pilasters are on both sides of double doors that have oval etched glass windows that duplicate the originals and an etched and wheel-cut toplight. A two-story carriage house in the rear also has a hip roof with a central wooden finial.
Hunt was born and raised in Maumee and moved to Toledo with his family in 1853. In 1862 he entered the Union army as a captain in the 67th Ohio Infantry. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and then brevetted as brigadier general. He was in battles near Charleston, South Carolina, and near the James River in Virginia, and was present with his command at Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. The family was related to Lewis Cass, the governor of Michigan Territory during the "Toledo War" over the location of the Ohio boundary line.
Lewis Cass Hunt died at the age of 36 in Toledo in 1868.
The Hunt House
321 East Front St.
Built ca. 1865, this house reminds one of a bungalow with its sloping porch columns. A closer look reveals its older Greek Revival heritage with the low-pitched roof and interrupter cornice returns and the front-facing gable. The porch, large front picture window, a casement window on the right side and an extension on the back appear to be additions.
The builder is thought to be George Strain, a West Virginia attorney who served as Wood County prosecutor during the Civil War.
The Strain House
332 East Front St.
The "Gothic Cottage" style house (actually, a Hudson River Mode Gothic Revival) at 333 East Front Street is a favorite of many who drive or walk past it. It was built in 1873 for Henry E. Averill by his father Henry P. who also built and lived in the house next door to it on the corner of Front and Maple Streets.
The Averill family was originally associated with the riverfront business of Peck and Averill Flour Mill at the foot of Louisiana. Henry E. was born in 1839 and came here from Connecticut with his parents in 1844. He was one of the early students here and completed his education at Illinois College in Jacksonville.
He then began studying law under an eminent New England lawyer and later under a Cleveland judge where he was admitted to the bar.
Although he practiced law many years in Toledo, Mr. Averill also followed other pursuits in which he attained considerable success. He was the assistant to the Attorney General of Ohio and also served in the office of the Adjutant General. For a number of years he was associated with his father-in-law, Frederick Dodge, in construction of railroads in Ohio and Illinois, after which he was auditor of the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad. He was also, up to the time of his death, one of the auditors of Standard Oil Company. During the Civil War he was commissioned Quartermaster of the 11th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry stationed at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. His regiment was detailed for special duty in the protection of the telegraph stations between Fort Kearney and South Pass and on the line of the stagecoach.
The house, designed by architect Isaac Hobbs & Son of New York, has two shingled gable roofs, with two small dormers facing west and south. There are interesting and typical curvilinear vergeboards in the gables, varying size windows and one large double window covered with a decorative canopy and drip molding. This fanciful ornamentation was partly the result of the then newly perfected scroll saw. There is a double entrance with a transom and decorative brackets on each of three columns of the porch. A wrought iron fence runs across the front of the property.
Upon its completion in 1873, the local Perrysburg newspaper commented that the house possessed all the modern conveniences: gas lighting, speaking tubes, indoor plumbing with water closets, and the most modern heating apparatus. The Averill family lived in the house his father built for him (believed to be a wedding present) until 1880 when their children took over. It is noteworthy that it remained in the ownership of the Averill family until 1957.
Henry E. Averill died at the age of 53 in 1892.
The Henry E. Averill House
333 East Front St.
Henry P. Averill was one of Perrysburg's most respected citizens and he is associated with this grand old two-story frame house that stands at 345 East Front on the corner of Front and Maple Streets.
Mr. Averill, a native of Hartford, Connecticut, came to Perrysburg in 1844. For a number of years he was a partner with Dr. Erasmus D. Peck in the Peck & Averill Flour Mill that served a large portion of the surrounding counties. After the partnership was dissolved he stayed in the milling business.
He and his wife Asenath, a sister of Dr. Peck, owned a large portion of the corner of their block, and in the 1870's transferred the west part of it to their son, Henry E. Averill.
The senior Averill's house, built in 1846, is Greek Revival, though experts point out elements of the Federal style. The broad eaves are a most unusual feature in a house of either period. The house sits on a stylobate or course of masonry forming the foundation for a colonnade, like a Greek temple, and has a rubblestone foundation. There is an elliptical fanlight in the pediment, and corner pilasters. The porch is Doric with a pediment portico. There are later additions to the west wall and especially at the rear. The interior woodwork is said to be particularly noteworthy for its architectural detail.
At some point Mr. Averill relocated to St. Louis, Missouri, but he returned to build his son's house. He later retired to Florida where he died in 1878.