109 Rockledge Drive
The Jay K. Secor House
Supporting the preservation and appreciation of Perrysburg's historic architectural heritage
The Jay K. Secor House:
In 1929 this house (actually an earlier version of it) was the lone anchor for a large estate long since subdivided. It is known as the Jay K. Secor house at 109 Rockledge Drive on East River Road, though it was completed by his widow eight years after his death in 1921. Designed by Perrysburg architect George B. Rheinfrank, Sr., it was one of the chain of large baronial houses built along the river between Perrysburg and Rossford by prominent Toledo industrialists during and not long after World War I.The brick structure is perhaps best described as Neoclassical in design, with a dominant full-height curved central entry porch between angled wings with front-facing gables.
109 Rockledge Drive
The classical porch columns are square, and the symmetrically balanced windows are six-pane. The up and down river view from this site is perhaps the best along the East River Road.
Actually, the present house developed over a period of time, having started (as did others along the river) as a large summer cottage while the Secor family still lived in Toledo's Old West End. Mr. Secor died in 1921 and his wife converted it to a brick structure. The original version was decidedly different in appearance except for the same curved porch and columns. The earlier wings had different shapes and roof lines. The present ones are identical from the front.
Rockledge, the name of the estate, was a working farm and there are still-existing buildings (now private homes) at the far north end of the property that were lived in by employees and that over time housed stables and garages. A barn in which there was once an indoor badminton court with seats for spectators still stands, largely in its original form, but it has been converted to an attractive house.
One grandson of the Secors remembers it being a fun place to bring a date. He also remembers driving around the grounds sitting on his grandmother's lap steering (with a lever) a car made by the Milburn Electric Car Company. At that time Mrs. Secor had remarried and her husband was president of the firm. The property originally extended across East River Road to include what is now residential Secor Woods and the former Roose estate adjoining just upriver.
That area on the river side, or part of it at least, was earlier owned by another prominent Toledoan of his time, F. B. Shoemaker. He lived in a large frame house and was one of the very first to venture from the comforts of the city to this far up this side of the river. In the late 1890s he, along with the then editor of the Perrysburg Journal, wisely proclaimed that with an improved road (East River Road being dirt at the time) development would be rapid. In Shoemaker's words, "Perrysburg has a fine a location as any village in Ohio, and with a stone road, men who want two, five or ten acres of land would locate there."
Jay K. Secor was born in Toledo in 1873, the son of well known family active wholesale grocery and banking businesses. Educated in the Toledo public schools and Phillips Andover Academy, he followed his father in the same businesses, and in addition, headed the Citizens Ice Company and was the senior member of the brokerage firm of Secor & Bell, later known as Secor, Bell & Beckwith.
He was the prime promoter of Secor Hotel and president of the company that built that property in 1908. He died in Florida at age 48. His four children grew up on the estate, one of them, George, living out his life there, and it is interesting that fourth generation descendants are current residents of the house.