By a whisker or two, it just might be Perrysburg's tallest downtown building, though still only three stories. It's the Moser Building at 111 Louisiana Avenue, originally built, or at least under construction, in 1900.
Called Commercial Colonial in style, the narrow 22-foot wide brick building was designed by local architect George B. Rheinfrank, Sr., for George W. Moser who, by the end of his life, owned a number of Perrysburg business properties.
According to the local newspaper, the ground floor was designed for a cafe featuring a 20-foot mahogany bar with a back bar of massive golden oak with French plate glass mirrors. The second floor was arranged as living apartments, while the third was designed as a public hall. Some sources suggest that the latter was in time used as a dance hall, a gambling parlor, and the town's first amusement hall, or nickelodeon.
The roof is stepped and there is a projecting eave with scrolled mullions running across the top frieze with dentils. Quoin-like brick panels extend vertically from the second to the third floor and frame the facade. There are two small chimneys on the south side, and a concrete block building has been added to the rear. O. J. Evans Jewelry and Charley Mills Barber Shop were also early tenants. Later occupants over the years have included Powers Insurance Agency, Service Hardware and Edwin K. Davey Interiors.
George Moser was born on a farm on the Maumee River near Waterville in 1873. In 1893 he bought and operated the Chris Hoffman grocery and restaurant located in a landmark frame building erected in 1856 as a hardware store next door to where he was to erect the present building. That hardware store was succeeded by Bostwick & Tyler which later moved to Toledo to become Bostwick, Braun & Company.
Mr. Moser and his family then lived above the store. Early in 1900, he began construction of the new building, and just in time, for some months later the frame structure was destroyed in a fire. Mr. Moser later operated the Moser Garage. He was also a former superintendent of the Village Water Works.
George Moser suffered a heart attack and died in 1951 at age 78 while on a visit in California.
The Moser Building
111 Louisiana Ave.
This commercial Italianate building was built in 1903 by a group of local men who got together at the turn of the 20th century to invest in property in the first block of our main street-hence its identifying name.
The facade of the small building is architecturally interesting in that it contains the same size bricks for all features, with no stone or concrete embellishments.
The arrangement of T -shaped corbelled brickwork between saw-tooth belts over four small circular window openings is especially interesting.
While not publicly identified, evidence suggests that Jacob Davis, long-time owner of Davis Hardware in this block was one of the investors. He came to Perrysburg from Buffalo, New York, in 1879, served in the Union navy before that during the Civil War, and was a village councilman, school board member, and president of the Citizens Banking Company.
The Syndicate Building
112 Louisiana Ave.
It's not an old historic downtown building, but it has recently changed ownership and attention has been focused on it as it has been converted to other use. It is the property easily identified with (by a wide frieze with inscribed lettering) as the former Citizens Banking Company at 114 Louisiana.
It was built in 1926 at a cost of $75,000 to house what was claimed to be the oldest bank in Wood County. It was designed by the Pittsburgh and Columbus bank architectural firm of Simmons, Brittain and English and the work was supervised by Harold H. Munger, local Perrysburg architect. The style of the building is of the Italian Renaissance tradition which features arches, but one architectural researcher has called that style "Neoclassical" which was popular for banks and libraries during the first half of the 20th century.
Nathaniel L. Hanson came here from school teaching in Columbus, Dayton and Sidney as a bookkeeper in 1871. He became teller of the Exchange Bank then located two doors north in the brick building built that year and later occupied by Zachman & Associates, Realtors. When that bank was liquidated in 1879, Hanson took over the building and founded the Citizens Bank which became an incorporated state bank in 1892 with a capital stock of $50,000.
Associated with him were James E. Dunipace and Mortimer A. Trowbridge, and early stockholders and officers included James H. Pierce, James O. Troup, J. Davis, D. K. Hollenbeck, Drs. H. A. Hamilton and J. H. Rheinfrank, E. L. Kingsbury, John and William Perrin, J. G. and Chris, A. Hoffman, Nicholas Wedertz and John Kohl.
Nathaniel Hanson died in 1903 and his son Norman L. Hanson took over as cashier and general manager until he retired from active management and was replaced by R. R. Hartshorn.
The elder Hanson had thoughtfully acquired the property next door and in 1926 the directors, then headed by George Munger Sr., constructed the present building. It is of brick but with an Indiana limestone facade on the front and south elevations, with a parapet at the roof. A massive stone arch dominates the front, at the center of which is a scroll-shape bracket decorated with acanthus leaves. Within the arch is a large window, and at the street level are two narrow windows with wrought iron grills.
On the south, or alley side, are three Romanesque arches with scroll-shape keystone brackets. The center arch has had a modern drive-by service window added. Inside, there are two mezzanine floors and a 25-foot ceiling which at some more recent time was dropped and covered. A recent current occupant, restored the attractive ornamental ceiling several years ago when the interior was renovated for retail business. The building's full basement was originally used for a community meeting room.
The Citizens Bank
114 Louisiana Ave.
This well-known commercial Italianate building at 116 Louisiana is historically known as the Witzler Building, but there is a relationship with the frame building directly to the left (south), the only former home still existing in the downtown blocks of Louisiana.
The frame home, now with its lower front story bricked over, is assumed to be the residence of Miss Harriet Hulburd, and if so, it was there that the Village Council established Perrysburg's first public library in 1881. What is generally unknown is that Miss Hulburd at that time also owned and was using the brick building to the right (north) for her growing library. Or at least this Perrysburg Journal news item of May 25, 1895 indicates: "The brick block formerly belonging to Miss Hattie Hulburd, known as the old library building, changed hands last week, Charles Witzler being the purchaser. He intends to remodel the building, lower the floor and put in an elegant plate glass front." Exactly when the original building was constructed is definitely known.
The land on which it stands was owned by John C. Spink, Perrysburg's first mayor, in 1832. An 1839 deed shows its value at $3,000 which indicates that an important structure had been erected. It has even been said that it was one of the largest brick buildings of its time in Ohio.
Charles was the oldest son of Peter Witzler, a German immigrant who arrived in Perrysburg in 1852 and operated a furniture factory on the Hydraulic Canal near the foot of Mulberry. He also turned banisters, broom handles, wagon hubs, etc. on lathes driven by water power, and made coffins ("a narrow home for the dead," as he advertised them in 1859). Along with this phase of his business, he offered funeral transporting by hearse and matched black horses. This was the beginning of the funeral business that continued here for more than a century by this branch of the Witzler family. Following service in the Civil War, Peter returned to his work here with funerals still playing a somewhat secondary role to furniture.
Charles Witzler was manufacturing his own patented twin bed springs in 1886. He produced them in a small shop during part of the year, and then went on the road selling them. In 1893 he bought the furniture and undertaking business of William Crook (quite possibly as an addition to the established Witzler family business), and in 1895 prepared to move it into the building. But first he remodeled the building to its basic appearance today, only then it was unpainted brick with contrasting black window frames.
A dentiled cornice divides the first and second floors and the top features fluted brackets, dentils and square tin rosettes, all originally light or white colored, and three trios of small rectangular windows. The first floor windows along the alley were bricked over in the early 1900s, and it can be noted that the original display windows were a bit lower than now.
Just three months after doing all this, Charles Witzler unexpectedly died of appendicitis at age 29 and his 23-year-old brother, Alfred J. Witzler, who had been working with him, took over the business. He later purchased the building for himself in 1899.
A. J. Witzler was a well respected merchant, active in civic affairs. He was an officer in the Citizens Banking Company and one of the organizers of the Perrysburg Tile and Brick Company. He had a branch operation in Tontogany and his wife and two sons, Charles and Norman, traveled all over the area preparing bodies for burial (before that embalming was done over the store), and conducting funerals from people's homes. It is a little hard to determine the relative importance of the funeral end of the business at that time, but his advertising seemed to indicate that sewing machines were the faster moving and more profitable item of the day.
The family lived in apartments in the front of the upstairs. In 1930 Mr. Witzler bought the fine old home at 128 East Front and remodeled it to serve as a funeral home. By that time his son, Norman, had become one of the first licensed funeral directors in the state and he ran the funeral business from there; also running the furniture business in the original building, when A. J. suffered a stroke. The latter died in 1934.
Norman Witzler, a man noted for a jolly and quick wit who really wanted to be a doctor, carried on the family business until it was brought to an official end by his death in 1964. Even so, Robert L. Shank, who bought the business and moved it to East South Boundary, continues the Witzler name to this day as the WItzler-Shank Funeral Home.
An interesting sidelight to all of this is that shortly after Earl Witzler, great-grandson of Peter, joined the law firm of which he is now a partner, the office was on the second floor of this same Witzler Building.
Over the years this building has housed the C & F Variety Store, Jenschke's Little Mall, Anna's Plant Parlor, the Salvation Army, Tom's Auto Parts, Perrysburg Antiques Market, and Divine Designs operated by Susan Parent.
The Witzler Building
116 Louisiana Ave.
The narrow three-story Italianate facade of the Amon Building at 117 Louisiana is one of our most recognizable Victorian-era commercial structures.
There seems to be conflicting information on exactly when and who built the building. One source indicates it was built by John Amon in 1877 who later sold it to his son John Jr. Another indicates it was built by Rudolph Danz for his bakery in 1888 and he later sold it to John Amon Jr. In either case, it is known as the Amon Building and that family name is the subject owner in this piece.
John Amon Sr., born in 1824, was among a colony of 72 German immigrants, all apparently from a single Catholic parish in Bavaria, who came here in 1852 bringing and establishing names long familiar here. They included the Schwinds, Mungers, Hillabrands, Hoffmans, Aults and others who helped drain the Black Swamp and establish businesses in Perrysburg. John Amon Sr. died in 1889. Toward the end of the century the building came into the possession of John Amon Jr. who operated a hardware store there from 1891 until 1926.
He also served as a township treasurer and at one time village councilman.
The front of the building features double-hung windows (6/6 in the third story, 2/2 in the second) with carved arched keystone lentils and carved sills. There is a brick cornice with dentils and a stepped roofline with four evenly spaced chimneys.
During the 1930s an ice cream parlor occupied the ground floor and from 1940 until 1945, while the building was owned by Isaly Dairy Company.
Later Geralda Pheatt ran a ladies apparel shop in the building called the Perry Petite, and then Harriet's, also a ladies apparel shop operated by Judy Hart, occupied the first floor for many years.