111-113 West Second Street

Perrysburg's Old City Building

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Perrysburg's Old City Building:

 

It was referred to as the City Building at 111-113 West Second Street, and it fit that description for more than 60 years as the home of Perrysburg’s police and fire departments, jail, courtroom and offices of the mayor, clerk and treasurer.

Of course, the fit was a lot easier up to 1965 when there were still only slightly more than 5,000 people living in town.

The history of the building offers several interesting mysteries.

For example, was it once a “coffin factory” as one of our local papers called it in 1964? Was it once two buildings as one former owner suspects? And who built it and when?

Although created in 1816, Perrysburg didn’t need a city building until early in 1833, when the Ohio General Assembly chartered the town. Up until then it was simply the county seat, with no local administration.

building

111-113 West Second Street

In that year, though, John C. Spink was elected our first mayor, and he apparently operated as such out of the second floor of his law office and home at what is now 116 Louisiana.

According to local historians, over the years the village offices (sometimes referred to as the Council Room and often where the fire apparatus was kept) were in various places on Front Street and on Louisiana Avenue. In 1899 our newspaper reported that they were moved to the old Township Hall where today’s municipal buildings stand. The following year the paper said that bids were sought to sell the “old Council building”-- a totally unclear description.

At any rate, in January of 1903, Village Council passed an ordinance to purchase “part” of Inlot 362 from R. S. Clegg to be used for a Council Room and fire engine house. Clegg ran a furniture and undertaking business from that site and the earlier reference to it being a coffin factory could be because it was part of his service.

In about 1914 a short newspaper item reported that the town purchased another “part” of the same lot, and this could have been to house the police station. There is a possibility that it was an existing adjoining building and that the two were made into one by a single brick façade over both.

The building pictured above had the mayor’s courtroom upstairs (this was before Ohio established Municipal Courts), along with offices for some of the top officials. The fire engine, police department and jail were on the right side below, heated by a potbellied stove and two space heaters. (The fire department moved into its new quarters on West Indiana in 1957.) The jail in the back part of the building has been described as a cage made with steel straps instead of bars.

In 1962 Council called for plans to be drawn for a new municipal building between the present fire station and Schaller Memorial on West Indiana, but the following year the deteriorating 1872 Township Hall was razed and the new buildings constructed on that site.

The former City Building was acquired by attorney Donald D. Simmons in 1983; however, he no longer owns it. Parts of the building were in very bad repair, and with plans designed by local architect Michael Barthold, Mr. Simmons virtually gutted the structured and converted it into an attractive multi-room law office building, carefully keeping the façade intact, preserving the leaded pressed glass windows over the right side people entrance, and also preserving the original door leading to the upstairs.

The building contained three long locked built-in safes, at least one of which was destroyed getting opened. Another, with a highly decorated door, is preserved in the original wall, and the fancy removable wood interior of the third, in the middle of which is still another small safe, still rests in a special displays in one of the rooms. This latter safe still bears the name of pioneer lawyer, mayor and library benefactor Willard V. Way. Whether it was his home that he donated to the town in his will is unknown.

The safe contained an exciting find of municipal documents and papers dating back to 1827, papers from the will of Willard Way, and even architectural design and construction specifications for remodeling the building in 1904. They are now possessions of the Way Library.

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