Sometime between 1850 and 1863, Jesse E. Norton built the brick house at 402 East Front Street. It's not a pretentious dwelling, but it does contain an interesting blend of Victorian style features that attract the eye of even the casual observer.
Mr. Norton was a prominent Perrysburg resident and businessman. He started and was a cashier of the Exchange Bank, the short-lived but first bank of this town. He was elected mayor for 1859-60, and was Worshipful Master of Phoenix Lodge, F. & A. M. in 1857. When the Civil War broke out, he attended the first war meeting here when the President called for 75,000 militia to put down the rebels.
He then became a colonel in the 21st Ohio Infantry Regiment and saw combat in Virginia. He was wounded and captured in a bayonet attack at Kanawha River, but his regiment went on to do valiant service. Local resources tell little else about the man.
The house features steep gables with some gingerbread trim typical of the Gothic Revival style. But the long windows and segmental arches are more common with the Italianate. An extended brick frieze follows the gable angles and extends to formation at the corners. There is a peak moulding on each gable, with a frame bay window beneath the one on the west side which contains a row of dentils. There are also dentils on the front near the entrance. The rear porch facing west may be original.
The Norton House
402 East Front St.
One of the more pretentious Victorian-period homes gracing East Front Street is quite in keeping with the prominence of its builder. He was Asher Cook, lawyer, judge, former mayor, state and national politician. It's one of our architectural jewels.
Asher Cook came to Perrysburg from Pennsylvania as a youngster in the 1820s. His family stayed here a few years then sought greener pastures in Chicago. Not liking the place, they returned here -- young Asher driving a few cattle on foot which, with a team of horses, represented his father's possessions.
He followed his father's trade as a stone mason and plasterer for a short time, also working as a laborer on the railroad east of here and as a common sailor on the lakes. But he thirsted for higher learning. Having a unique talent for languages, he learned to speak and read Latin, French, German and Spanish without having a college education. His private library would eventually contain some 275 volumes of those languages. He finally studied law under local attorney Willard V. Way, gaining admittance to the Ohio bar in 1849. Immediately thereafter he was elected Wood County Prosecuting Attorney and began his long professional career. Three years later he was elected Probate Judge.
During the cholera epidemic of 1854, Cook's wife was among the 120+ local victims. Thereafter he went to Europe, studying for a year in Paris and Heidelberg. In 1858 he married Sophia Hitchcock, the daughter of a prominent Perrysburg merchant.
Cook began his political life as a Democrat but switched parties over the issue of slavery. At the Pittsburgh convention he took a leading role in the organization of what was to become the national Republican Party.
At the outbreak of the Civil War he raised and commanded a volunteer infantry company which took part in several engagements. He later commanded another company in the 144th Ohio Infantry. From 1862 until 1864 he represented Wood and Ottawa Counties in the Ohio General Assembly and was a delegate to the convention which nominated General U.S. Grant for President in 1868. From 1868 until 1870 he served as mayor of Perrysburg and in 1873 he was elected to the convention that revised the State Constitution, in which he played a prominent role.
This was the year he built his house at 409 East Front. Its style is Italianate which dominated American houses built in the Midwest between 1850 and 1880. It is brick with wood and stone trim and its noteworthy characteristics include tall, narrow windows with decorative wooden headers, broad eaves supported by massive single brackets, a comparatively shallow hipped roof, a large hexagonal two-story bay on the west side (square on the east side), and double front entry doors.
To fully appreciate the house as it originally stood, one must visualize a wooden porch running across the entire front. Telltale markings remaining on the brick indicate that the porch also turned the corner and ran along the west of the house as far as the window bay.
A masonry terrace on the Maple Street side and a frame extension to the rear on the east side are additions.
Homes of this character are said to be a peculiarly American development in that they would commonly have round-headed or hooded windows and either a tower or a rooftop cupola. This one does not. However, the still preserved carriage house in the rear more nearly represents the Italinate style with several of these features including a cupola.
Asher Cook was recognized as one of the best constitutional lawyers in the state and was active in all areas of Perrysburg community life. In his later years he traveled widely throughout the world. He died on January 1, 1892 at the age of 68 and his funeral was held in the house.
The Cook House
409 East Front St.
This house was built ca. 1866 by Rosana Slevin, probably the wife of Patrick S. Slevin, a well-known attorney and Civil War officer. It has been called the “vernacular answer" to some of the ‘high style’ Queen Anne homes in the area. Note the front-facing intersecting gables with a small semi-circular window in the front and the other windows of varying size and shape. Extensive renovation has been made over the years.
It was once owned by St. Rose Catholic Church and used as a rectory.
The Slevin House
417 East Front St.
In 1906, two-term mayor and long-time merchant William J. Veitch built this pattern-book Queen Anne house. A turret-like dormer faces the front and an indented frieze with dentil-like blocks is in the left gable, with decorative brackets in the right one. First floor walls are of clapboard and the second of shingles.
After a time in a Toledo wholesale grocery firm, Veitch bought the William Barton dry goods store, which he operated for more than 40 years while contributing as a civic leader.
The Veitch House
420 East Front St.
Harry C. Barton had Toledo architects Baker & Hitchcock, the latter a Perrysburg resident, design this house in 1898 with recognizable Queen Anne and Shingle elements. Notice the steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, asymmetrical façade, exposed rafters where the roof protrudes, patterned shingles, and other devices used to avoid a smooth-walled appearance.
Barton was the son of well-known English-born merchant William Barton and spent most of his adult life in Toledo.