502 West Front Street

The Crook House

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The Crook House:

 

The original portion of this stately white frame house has been sitting on the corner at 502 West Front Street for more than 140 years. It was built between 1861 and 1867 by Perrysburg businessman William Crook Sr. and occupied by succeeding members of his family for many years.

In 1861 Crook purchased the lot for his house from David Wilkinson, a Great Lakes ship captain and pioneer resident. Early accounts indicate that Wilkinson himself once had a house there that was destroyed by fire.

house

502 West Front Street

The lot at the time was almost half a block wide and still is a full block deep, running to West Second Street.

The Italianate style gable-front-and-wing house has a wide friezeboard and a two-story bay window that almost suggests a tower. Windows are tall and narrow with 6/6 panes. The front door is flanked by sidelights and topped by a semi-elliptical transom with fanlike tracery. Seven miniature Doric columns in clusters support the front porch.

A faded old photograph of the house recently came to light when a Toledo ancestor of the Crook family sought an answer to where his great-great-grandfather lived. (A copy of the picture is now preserved in Way Public Library.) It shows that fewer than seven porch columns were there originally and that their tops were decorated with scrollwork. 

Also, attractive double brackets once supported the eaves of the house, and a white picket fence ran across the front (and probably the east and west sides) of the property. It appears that additions have since been made to the rear and west sides. As recently as the 1950s a barn was still in the back.

William Crook was born in England in 1799 and came to Perrysburg via Pennsylvania in 1832. He was a farmer and one time owner of considerable acreage on the west side of West Boundary extending from the river southward, including a large section of that part of what is now Fort Meigs Cemetery bordering Maumee and Western Reserve Road, the highway that leads to the Fort Meigs Memorial Bridge. His son, William Jr., meanwhile, established a cabinet shop on the old Hydraulic Canal on the river front and operated a furniture shop and undertaking business at 116 Louisiana. The undertaking business was sold to the Witzler family in 1893.

In 1886, William Sr. and his son purchased the Baird House, an old hotel now occupied by Mills Hardware and Sargent Associates, at the northwest corner of Louisiana and Second. They remodeled the old building and opened an agricultural implement business, using both floors to sell plows, mowers, reapers, grain drills, hay rakes, etc., plus furniture, and also offered an undertaking service.

William Sr., in 1855, helped in the movement to change the name of Maumee to South Toledo when that town and Gilead (now Grand Rapids) chose to change their names due to perceived bad public image following the terrible cholera epidemic the year before. At about that time he also sold some of his land for a road to a new toll bridge across the river, replacing a cable ferry at his river lot. He served as a township trustee and was a member of the local I.O.O.F. lodge. Over the years he had five wives, all but one preceding him in death, indicating how fragile life could be years ago. He himself died at age 72 in 1871.

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