It is likely that passersby seldom look closely at this building at 127 West Fifth Street at the foot of the old water tower, probably because the more attractive entrance shown here is at the rear, off the alley. But this structure is classified by historic inventory people as significant, and well it must be since it won a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
It is the city of Perrysburg's Water Maintenance Building completed in 1940 to house several municipal offices and departments.
Since about 1975 only the Water Department and the office of the the Superintendent, Wilford Hunt, were housed there. For a period of time the Perrysburg Street Department occupied the building and stored its salt for winter ice melting in one section.
It is not just the National Register listing that makes this structure worthy of note. It was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) at the end of that period when local governments were still competing for federal funding to relieve Great Depression unemployment, and as such it is one of very few of its kind in this part of Ohio. Not only that, it is considered a fine example of early 20th century public architecture.
Designed by Toledo architects Britsch and Munger, it reflects rural French architecture of the Normandy region with its hipped roof, cut stone foundation, one-and-a-half story turret entrance with narrow side windows, and massive chimney of brick and stone. This architectural style was popular between 1915 and 1945. Most WPA projects were known for their quality construction and this one is no exception.
Skilled brick and stone laying is evident and the place was obviously built to last. The inside consists of about six rooms with walls of solid double-thick brick. There is also a partial basement and a storage loft where old court records were kept before construction of the new Municipal Court building at Third and Walnut Streets.
For reasons lost in time, the large chimney services an attractive living room type fireplace, clearly insufficient for general heating purposes even though there has never been central heating in the L-shaped building. Perhaps the federal funding had no strings attached to prevent the architects from including what most certainly would have been a part of a rural French dwelling.
A few feet from the building on the Fifth Street side lies the concrete foundation on which once rested the old water standpipe installed in about 1905 as part of Perrysburg's first water system and since replaced by the adjacent 250,000-gallon water tower. Water from an intake 60 feet out into the river, filtered only, was pumped into the standpipe (which had no closed top) to provide pressure for fire protection and sewer flushing.
Interestingly, the building was constructed with bricks and lumber salvaged from the old demolished interurban trolley car barn once located on East River Road. The property on which the maintenance building sits was once part of the half-block owned by attorney Willard V. Way. His wife, Sophia, sold it to the village in 1882 when she fell upon hard times.
The Water Building
127 West Fifth Street
This neat frame home at 138 West Fifth Street was built in 1853 by a man who came here to visit his sister, and then stayed on to contribute much to the community and county. His name was Addison Smith.
Smith was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1809 and was educated at the College of Cannonsburg in that state. He came here from Wooster to visit in 1832 and then stayed on and was engaged in the mercantile business with Shibnah Spink for a number of years.The house he built of simple Greek Revival temple style. It is front gabled with a familiar elliptical fanlight, and returned cornices. An addition to the rear is believed to have been done around the turn of the 19th century.
In 1840 Addison Smith was elected auditor of Wood County and served in that capacity for 16 years. He also served a term as representative in the Ohio Legislature. Closer to home, he was a frequent member of Village Council and served several terms as mayor and was township treasurer. He was also a member of the Board of Education for five year, and took a leading role in building the Union School here, later destroyed by fire.
Smith apparently was also a man with inventive genius, holding some 12 or 15 patents on various inventions, and quite a few for which he did not apply. One patent was for a propeller wheel for gunboats. The federal government adopted the idea in 1846 and employed him to oversee their installation. Another, said to be his last, was a tack driving machine used for making such things as wooden fruit boxes which was once a local industry.
Addison Smith died here in 1874 at the age of 65.
The Smith House
138 West Fifth Street
Like so many of our fine old homes, this one at 202 West Fifth Street is of Greek Revival design ("temple style"), and it was built around 1857 by a man who called three different places home.
James Hood came to this area in 1834 with his parents and a group of immigrating Scotsmen.
His parents took up residence on Hull Prairie where he grew up.
It is not known when he came to Perrysburg, but in 1847 he and his brother William were operating a general store on the corner of Front Street and Louisiana Avenue.
The house he built is a two and a half-story frame with a shallow roof pitch, broad fascia and return gable ends characteristic of its architectural style. The recessed Greek entrance features complete entablature above, and it is flanked by Doric pilasters with sidelights around the single door. The upper part of the front gable has a pedimental fanlight. The rear of the house appears to be an addition, possibly done during substantial remodeling around 1911.
Mr. Hood was Perrysburg's mayor in 1857-58, and earlier he was township clerk and clerk for Township School District 9. He was also one of the organizers in 1851 of the Wood County Agricultural Society which, in the fall of that year, put on the first Wood County Fair.
He retired from business here and made his home in Bowling Green where he was one of the leaders in the Methodist Church there. He is believed to be one of the signers in 1866 of a bond for $15,000 to donate ground and buildings for county purposes if voters approved the removal of the county seat to that village -- which, of course, they did in a controversial election.
James Hood died in 1872 back at Hull Prairie where he at that time again made his home. He was 65 years old.