128 East Front Street
The Ross House
Supporting the preservation and appreciation of Perrysburg's historic architectural heritage
The Ross House:
James W. Ross, for whom the unique brick building at 128 East Front Street was built as a residence, was a prominent pioneer member of this community. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1820 and came to Perrysburg at the age of 14 with his parents.
It is not clear from historical records exactly what his principal occupation was, but he at one time must have been an educator for in 1846 he established a select (private) school here in the old courthouse building that burned in 1872, and in the mid-1800s he was a school examiner.
When the Civil War broke out he was among the local men who attended the Perrysburg War Meeting in 1861 when Lincoln called for 75,000 militia to put down the rebellion.
In the 1870s Mr. Ross built his home--an early example of the Italian Villa style. It has a shallow, truncated hip roof with low gables crowned with ornate wooden finials.
128 East Front Street
But its most unique feature is the square wooden tower above the front entrance, each side of which has a triangular pediment supported by wooden brackets over Palladian windows that have since been painted over. The tower is topped by a balustrade. This is characteristic of the Italian Villa style and is one of the few towers to be found in the Perrysburg-Maumee area.
All of the building's windows have incised lintels and the front entrance has double doors with stained and leaded glass, the doors being set in a basket-handle brick arch containing a leaded fanlight. The interior is also unusual. A small stair hall features a curving stairs that ascends the east wall from rear to front--contrary to the usual plan. Woodwork in the parlor features an elliptical arched opening with one-half oaken Roman Ionic columns forming the entry. Similar themes are repeated in other area.
The building is perhaps most closely associated with the funeral business. It was purchased in 1930 by Alfred J. Witzler and became Witzler's Funeral Home operated by him, then his son Norman, and then until fairly recently by Robert L. Shank. During this period a large two-story addition to the rear and a drive-through porch on the east side were made.
Mr. Ross was active in Republican politics and served as county coroner in 1848 and township clerk in 1864. He was also one of the organizers of the Perrysburg Petroleum Company in 1865.