102-104 Louisiana Avenue

The Centennial Block

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Supporting the preservation and appreciation of Perrysburg's historic architectural heritage

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The Centennial Block:

 

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.

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102-104 Louisiana Avenue

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.

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