420 West Front Street

The Houston House

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The Houston House:


The combination Greek Revival / Italianate house at 420 West Front Street has been home to many families since its construction some 150 years ago, and several of them have added greatly to its size and attractiveness.

Referred to frequently as the Norton House, real estate transaction records nevertheless indicate that the major part of the house was most likely built by William Houston in the early 1850s -- though there may have been some form of structure or house on the property when it first changed hands in 1842. There are very few local records available to shed light on the life of William Houston.


420 West Front Street

Unfortunately, there are more details about his "tragic spectacle" suicide by razor in 1866. Printed obituaries in a small town at that time perhaps rightfully assumed that everyone was thoroughly familiar with the deceased. It is known that he was a resident here as early as 1839 and was listed as having a tailor shop the following year -- though later accounts show him involved in milling and as a merchant of dry goods and groceries. He may have owned or operated a business out of a frame building that in later years housed the Perrysburg Journal between the former Rheinfrank Hospital and Hood Park on West Front Street.

And being a strong abolitionist, he may have been responsible for that building known as the Underground Railroad station for escaping slaves from the South. It is known that he was a founding member and director of the Wood County Horticultural Society and a charter member of Fort Meigs Lodge of the I. O. O. F.

The house has a hipped roof with a very shallow slope, and Italianate-style brackets. The re-done main entrance on the right side of the facade has unusual carved brackets that flank a heavy oak door with sidelights. Cornice-like molding appears over the door and windows, and the elevated porch is of large stone blocks.

 In the rear stands a former barn joined to the house by a breezeway. The barn was moved there in the early 1940s from across town. The story is that schools were closed and the daily train schedule altered for the move. Over the years a breakfast room picture window, and enlarged kitchen and step-down family room, and a deck porch were also added.

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