407 West Front Street

The B.F. Hollister House

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

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The B.F. Hollister House:

 

Some houses in Perrysburg are considered significant because of their architecture and some for the history associated with their builder. This one, at 407 West Front Street, is more nearly the latter, for it appeared to have been built between 1833 and 1838 by Benjamin F. Hollister, one of the two brothers who were highly prominent pioneers here.

The frame house is of vernacular style fairly typical of the early 1800s. But this attractive well-preserved structure has some interesting details even though it may not be an architectural landmark. The shallow roof and elliptical fanlight in the gable reflect the earlier Federal period. The foundation is of cut stone.

house

407 West Front Street

A four-pane transom is above the off-center front entrance, topped by a decorative entablature under a shed roof. Windows are six over six. It is not certain whether the rear wing that contained a country kitchen is original, but it was rehabilitated and altered ca. 1965. The interior of the house features most interesting original woodwork and attractive wide-plank pine floors laid directly over logs. The frame of the house is of hand-hewn timbers secured by mortise and tenon joints, further indicating its age, and one of Historic Perrysburg's bronze recognition plaques proudly graces the front of the building.

Benjamin Hollister was born in Berkshire County, Massachusetts in 1800. He and his brother John came here to the Foot of the Rapids shortly after the War of 1812 and lived in Orleans of the North on the flats below what is now Fort Meigs. At that time the town of Orleans of the North was the only settlement of white citizens in Wood County. It was there that they opened a retail store in 1817. The store eventually became a four-story building that also housed a warehouse, and it is said that the first services of the Methodist congregation were held there.

After spring floods wiped out the little settlement several times, the residents sought higher ground in Perrysburg and the brothers opened a store here. As time went by John Hollister went on to become a forwarding and commission merchant, fur agent, owner of a steamboat line and one of this area's most prominent landowners and citizens. He built a showplace mansion just east of what is now Hood Park. That home was destroyed by fire in 1940.

Whether Benjamin shared in all of his brother's enterprises is not certain, but he too became a man of substance and was described as being "known in the west as among the successful businessmen of this day." Some sources say he was also a Great Lakes ship captain. Upon his death a Toledo newspaper said that he was an extensive dealer in fur trade with the Indians and in 1832 he was commissioned by the government to accompany a part of the Ottawa and Miami tribes to their new exile west of the Mississippi River. Among the several notable chiefs in the group was The Prophet, brother of the famous Tecumseh.

Benjamin Hollister died in 1856 at age 56.

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