127 West Fifth Street

The Water Maintenance Building

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The Water Maintenance Building:

 

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.

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127 West Fifth Street

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.

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