The building above is included in this series, not for its architectural merit, but for its location. It sits on the southeast corner of our busiest intersection, Louisiana Avenue and Front Street, probably the first or second most historically important commercial location in Perrysburg.
Who built what kind of original building on this site is obscured by time, but on April 4, 1845, a building here burned to the ground during a windy evening despite the frantic efforts of a bucket brigade and the help of Maumee citizen volunteers.
According to the newspaper accounts, the building was owned by Captain David Wilkinson, the nephew of Captain Jacob Wilkinson, once of the settlement of Orleans of the North just upriver from what was to become Perrysburg.
Jacob Wilkinson commanded a schooner that transported the remaining garrison and equipment from Fort Meigs to Detroit when the government abandoned the fort at the end of the War of 1812.
With him was 15-year-old David, who was to become the captain of a series of river and lake vessels until his retirement in 1852. By then he apparently was a man of some substance, living at what is now 502 West Front in what was described as "one of the two finest places on the road." (That house also was lost to fire).
In 1848, fire again visited what could have been (records are vague) the southeast corner of Louisiana's first block, and again the local newspaper attributed the ownership to David Wilkinson.
One of the known occupants in the building at the time of the 1845 fire was the J. A. Hall & Co. store. Records show that J. Augustus Hall owned the site, at least in 1852, and the following year our newspaper reported that "J. A. Hall moved to his splendid new front store on the corner of Front and Louisiana." If correct, that would suggest him as the likely builder of the present structure.
Speaking of which, it is considered by some as Commercial Italianate in style and is of brick long hidden by aluminum siding. It is believed that the present angled entrance at the corner was a later creation but that the store front columns may be original.
Interestingly, over the years several drug stores are said to have been located near or on this corner: possibly Taylor & Miller Drugs, and D. O. Travis Pharmacy and the Leon Hayward Pharmacy. And yet the corner directly across the street has long been known as "drug store corner." Long-time residents will remember this building to have also once housed a bar, an earlier and present floral shop (Fall 2006), and other businesses.
The J.A Hall Building
101 Louisiana Ave.
Some say it's our most outstanding Victorian commercial building. Whether that observation is true or not, the nearly square structure at 102 and 104 Louisiana is a very well preserved example of that era.
It was built by the mercantile firm of F. R. Miller & Co. in the U.S. centennial year 1876 -- hence its name. Miller was the senior member in a partnership with Henry E. Peck, son of pioneer physician and businessman Erasmus D. Peck, with whom Miller entered business upon his arrival here in 1845 at the age of 17. F.R. Miller & Company occupied other quarters in town for about 25 years before erecting the new building at a cost of about $15,000.
The local newspaper editor said upon its completion that there was no particular name for the style of architecture, "except what is known as the 'Modern Style.'" It was designed by Toledo architect, E. O. Fallis, who also designed the Valentine Theater Building, St. Paul's Methodist Church and the Bartley House in Toledo. The style offers spatial organization uniting two stores into a single facade, with cast iron Corinthian columns at ground level supporting the superstructure.
The building is divided in the middle from basement to roof with a brick wall into which the hot air furnace flues and ventilators were constructed to serve both sides. The north portion of the building housed a grocery store and the other side was used for dry goods. Originally, a rather new-fangled elevator was installed in the basement of this section to raise and lower heavy articles "with comparatively no labor."
The upper facade of the building is accented by corbelled brickwork, with the cornice supported by eaves brackets. The display windows of the two stores are unchanged, as is the original embossed tin ceiling inside, so that what we have preserved in large part is an authentic look of a mid-1870s commercial building, original except for the replacement of gas lights with electric.
Centennial Hall, a public meeting place for many years, was on the second floor over the dry goods department. It was 24 x 61 feet, seated about 250 persons, and was the scene of countless promenades, concerts, dramatic performances, etc. When the Presbyterian Church building burned in 1875, the congregation held services in Centennial Hall until their building on East Second Street was completed.
Frederick R. Miller was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1828. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was among the men who held the first War Meeting here following Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers. He became quartermaster of the 21st Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and later was a lieutenant colonel and commandant of Fort Henry in Baltimore, Maryland.
In civilian life, Miller served as Perrysburg Township trustee and clerk, was councilman, clerk and then mayor of the village, and also served on the school board.
Over the years, the grocery department of the company was sold to E. L. Kingsbury and J. M. Wilson and the dry goods part to William Barton and was operated as Barton and Averill. R. P. Barton conducted an undertaking establishment there for many years, followed thereafter by the dry goods business of William J. Veitch and Charles Dibling. It ceased to be a dry goods store when Hayes Travel Agency located there in more recent years. The grocery department, located in what for years before had been known as "drug store corner," reverted to that when Champney Drug Store returned to that site. That business and entire building was purchased in 1937 by the late C. W. Houck and remained in that family for many years, operating as Houck's Drugs.
Frederick Miller left here for Colorado in about 1883 where he pursued other business interests. He died in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1913.
The Centennial Block
102-104 Louisiana Ave.
The Old Masonic Lodge
103-105 Louisiana Ave.
Behind the contemporary façade of this structure are one or more much older buildings. An 1869 local newspaper article refers to the possible addition of an upper story to one of them and the erection of a Masonic Hall.
There is a later newspaper reference to “the old Masonic Lodge" designed by the architectural firm of Langdon & Hohley of Toledo and built by Leon LaFarree in 1920.
One of the best early 20th century commercial buildings in Perrysburg is the one at 106 Louisiana and built as an investment by D. K. Hollenbeck in 1903.
Daniel Kidder Hollenbeck settled here between 1868 and 1878 and practiced law for more than 60 years. He was born in 1834 and was a school teacher before being admitted to the bar in 1857 and practicing for many years with his uncle, Francis Hollenbeck. When Francis died, D. K.'s brother, F. E. Hollenbeck, came here from New York to be his law partner.
In 1903 Mr. Hollenbeck bought the lot next to what is now Houck's Drug Store for his building.
The J. Davis Hardware was the first occupant, remaining there until 1923 when the store was called Perrysburg Hardware.
The building is of brick, stone, iron and tin, and since its construction, a second entrance has been added.
The most noticeable characteristic of the building is the set of eyelike windows in the front second story, surrounded by an egg and dart motif which is also carried out on the first story pilasters. The cornice across the top story also features dentils and there are cast iron columns in the interior.
The Hollenbeck Building
106 Louisiana Ave.
This small building, built in 1871, or an earlier version of it, is claimed to be Wood County’s oldest bank site. The present building originally had two prominent semi-circular brick corbelled arches in the center façade, with attractive masonry ornamentation. There was a simple double door entrance flush with the façade, with a large window just to the right.
Dr. Erasmus D. Peck was the principal organizer of this bank that was liquidated after eight years.