30209 Morningside

The Stranahan Estate House

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

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The Stranahan Estate House:

 

Resembling a European castle, this huge manor house at 30209 Morningside Drive is one of the homes overlooking the Maumee River on East River Road that evokes the grand manner of France, England and Germany.

It was built by Frank D. Stranahan at a time when prominent Toledo industrialists seemed almost to compete in outdoing one another in architectural splendor.

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30209 Morningside

Actually, the architecture is eclectic, combining Norman Chateauesque, Swiss Chalet and Queen Anne features into a structure that historic inventory specialists have called "stately", grand, and "manorial"-and it could probably never be duplicated today.

Built between 1925 and 1930 on the estate called "Wamston," the rambling house contains a combination of rectangles, squares, circles, semi-circles and octagons found in various places in the three-story rough-hewn cream-colored stone walls, the steep gables. Round and straight-topped windows with diamond and square panes, varying large corbelled brick chimneys with capstones, and broad expanses of roof and half-timbered walls add to the beauty of it. 

Up until fairly recently, the house stood alone at the edge of an expansive manicured front lawn. Also on the grounds once stood stables and greenhouses. The gatehouse, now a private residence at the driveway entrance on East River Road, is of similar architecture and materials.

The house was designed by architect Charles Schneider of Cleveland. The landscape architects were the Olmstead Brothers, successors to internationally known Frederick Law Olmstead. The interior was designed by Helen Irwin of New York City. It is said that skilled craftsmen were brought to do the work and that an entire nearby farm was bought for its supply of topsoil and fully grown elm trees.

Frank Stranahan, a pioneer automotive industrialist, was born in Buffalo and began his career with a bicycle and auto accessory business in Boston. In 1910, he and his brother, Robert, and their mother, Elizabeth, started the Champion Spark Plug Company and almost immediately moved it to a location in Toledo, where they began with about 40 employees on the second floor of a small building. Success came swiftly.

Mr. Stranahan conducted his business and philanthropic activities quietly, living in this house with his wife, a New York light opera singer, who died in 1954. He continued living there until his death in 1965 at age 89.

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