29755 Somerset Road

The George Ross Ford, Sr. House

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

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The George Ross Ford, Sr. House:

 

The largest house with a Perrysburg address ought to qualify for that reason alone to be in this series. But, if that is not enough, it's likelihood of being the largest in the Toledo metropolitan area, if not all of Northwest Ohio, surely is.

It is the Ford mansion at 29755 Somerset Road, an enormous Jacobean Revival house built by George R. Ford in 1922. George Ford was a third generation glass manufacturing executive whose grandfather built the first plate glass works in America and whose father, Edward, founded the  Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company.

house

29755 Somerset Road

The building site along the river on East River Road, in what is now The Hamlet development, was by 1908 becoming a bucolic escape area for some of Toledo's most prominent Old West End residents, and Mr. Ford bought 80 acres with a river frontage of 2,000 feet and sold a share to his brother-in-law, W.W. Knight, Sr. in that year. Both built large summer cottages and later shared ownership in much more adjacent acreage, including the former Belmont Farm, which produced fresh vegetables, milk, poultry and prize-winning cattle.

In the good times following World War I, and with the development of easy automotive transportation, summer residents along the river began building permanent homes. In about 1921, Mr. Ford hired Toledo architects Mills, Rhines, Bellman and Nordhoff to design his house.

Built primarily of brick trimmed in sandstone, it originally had as many as 84 rooms, counting such areas as laundry and ironing rooms, walk-in closets, workshops, a photographic darkroom, a room for a two-story pipe organ, and many others. There were 11 bathrooms, 13 fireplaces, and a ballroom in the basement. The interior was designed by New York professionals, as was the landscaping.

Based on 17th century English style, other buildings on the estate were of like mode and included a gatehouse, guesthouses, garages, greenhouses and a gardener's house. Some of them remain today, although converted to other uses.

Born in 1882, George Ford was president of Edward Ford Plate Glass Company at Rossford from 1920 to 1930 when the firm merged with Libbey and changed its name. He then became a vice president and director and for many years was president of Rossford Savings Bank and vice president of National Bank of Toledo. He died in 1938 at the age of 56.

Following the death of Mrs. Ford, the house was acquired by an owner outside the family, but in 1971, two related Ford family descendants bought it back with the goal of preserving it and the surrounding grounds.

Even though alterations made included a two-story addition to the left wing, a major conversion of the interior of the right wing and the division of the entire house into three separately-owned living quarters, the original irreplaceable paneled walls and highly decorated carved plaster ceilings are beautifully intact, and, hopefully, this magnificent home will stand forever as a reminder of gracious country living when Toledo-owned industry was in its heyday.

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