It wasn't until 1990, after a long period of neglect during which overgrown brush, weeds, and trees almost happily hid it from general view, that this house at 302 East Second re-emerged as one of our finest examples of the Victorian period.
Built around 1865 for druggist Aaron R. Champney who owned it for nearly 50 years, the gable front and wing house later was in the Fenneberg family for 53 years.
In 1990, the present owners acquired the property, and had the grounds cleared and developed plans to restore the house to its original form.
The architectural style is Italianate frame.
The tall and narrow windows are topped with slight or non-fanciful pedimentation, but the porch has highly decorative brackets over square posts, and the porch roof features dentils. The front gable contains spindlework showing Eastlake influences -- he being an English furniture designer who created design elements used in residential architecture.
Aaron Champney was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1830 and spent 18 years on the Great Lakes, working himself from the lowest position to that of master of the ship. Throughout his life here, beginning in 1862, he was addressed as "captain." In 1866 he purchased the interest of Dr. J. H. Rheinfrank in the then called New Drug Store (to distinguish it from one already in existence owned by Peck and Hamilton). The new entry soon changed its name to Inscho and Champney and was located in a frame building where now stands the Citizens Bank Building in the first block of Louisiana.
Mr. Champney eventually bought out his partner and in 1900 got out of the business, selling it to his son Charles who three years later also sold it. In 1904 a fire wiped out a number of buildings in the first block of Louisiana, including that of the drug store, so the pharmacy was moved into a storeroom of the Phoenix Building (now Mills Hardware). Charles Champney then bought back the business in 1909 and relocated it to what has long been known as "drug store corner" at the corner of Louisiana and West Front. The drug store remained in the Champney family until it was sold in 1937 to C. W. Houck.
Aaron Champney was a prominent citizen and merchant and was among the petition signers in 1872 to build a new court house (the Town Hall) in a failed effort to get the county seat returned here from Bowling Green. He died in 1908 at the age of 77.
The Champney House
302 East Second Street
Jarius Augustus Hall, with his brother James M., operated a general store at Louisiana Avenue and Front Street. They came to Perrysburg from Vermont and J. A. built the original part of this temple-style Greek Revival house ca. 1850, featuring a strong pediment over a wide frieze board, six-over-six windows, and corner pilasters.
The large side yard, on part of which the added wing now sits, was an orchard, and it is said that an originally planted Osage Orange hedge (resistant to free-grazing livestock) still defines some of the property line.
Jarius and Maria Hall and two of his sisters came to Perrysburg from Vermont. Jarius was born in Wilmington, Vermont in 1817 and died in Perrysburg in 1858. His sister, Amanda, was at one time married to Asher Cook of this city.
The J.A. Hall House
321 East Second Street
This small but neat house at 347 East Second Street proudly bears a Historic Perrysburg bronze plaque because of its age, its architectural interest and its association with people important in the history of this town.
Records strongly suggest that the builder was Amos Spafford II, grandson of Wood County's first official land owner and the man who named Perrysburg (which he originally spelled with an "h" on the end.)
Thomas R. McKnight, our first postmaster, had originally acquired the property from the State of Ohio for $128 in 1827 and in 1833 he sold it to Spafford who, five years later, sold it to Jesup W. Scott for $1,300. In an article written by Scott's son in 1895, it was mentioned that his parents moved into a "yellow cottage" in 1833 where they entertained friends, his father being an excellent conversationalist, according to the son. That must have been the subject house.
It is of vernacular Greek Revival style, the most eye-catching feature being the discontinuous wide frieze board and the cornice returns in the front. The front porch, an addition, is supported by three round columns, and shed roof extensions to the left and rear are also later additions.
It's being old is unquestioned. Hand-hewn lumber is said to be visible underneath the structure and square nails have been uncovered along with two-inch thick black walnut sheathing material that almost defies modern nails and saws. The present owner says that at one point, during some interior remodeling, a pair of children's shoes, whose style dates back many generations, was discovered.
Amos Spafford II was born in 1813, the son of Samuel Spafford, one of seven children of Amos and Olive Spafford. Little is known of his life here, but according to research done by local historian Judith Justus, Amos owned a stage coach and was paid by two Perrysburg attorneys to go to California during the gold rush where he died of unknown causes at the age of 38.
Much more is known about the third owner, also a prominent name in our history. He was Jessup W. Scott, who came to Perrysburg from Connecticut in about 1830.
Records show that Jessup Scott was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1833 and that he was Wood County prosecuting attorney and a Perrysburg Township Trustee in 1834. He apparently went into business with Henry Darling (who later became an attorney and in 1837 was our third mayor). Meanwhile, Scott bought 70 acres in Vistula and Port Lawrence, the two villages that were to eventually merge to become Toledo.
In 1833, Scott and Darling founded and were co-editors of the first newspaper in the Maumee Valley, called the Miami of the Lake, published here in Perrysburg using a press and type that Darling had bought from New York.
In 1835, during the so-called Toledo War with Michigan over the state boundary dispute, Perrysburg became an armed camp and Scott organized a Perrysburg infantry company of which he was captain. Stories have it that he employed a drummer and flag bearer to march up and down Front Street from early morning to evening to arouse patriotic citizens to enlist. The noise aggravated the judge of a trial going on in the county courthouse, then located on that street, and there were heated arguments and threats of arrest. The priority of "war" over civil court finally won out and the drumming continued. All of this was even before Governor Robert Lucas marched some 500 Ohio State militia here from Columbus to keep Michigan militia at bay.
In 1844, Jessup Scott moved to Toledo, having earlier sold the newspaper to his brother. In time Scott became editor of the Toledo Blade newspaper. In 1872, he donated 160 acres of land to found what was to become the University of Toledo and this and subsequent contributions to that city's culture were to be rewarded by Scott High School and Scott Part being named for him. Jessup Scott died in 1874.