503 West Front Street
The Spink House
Supporting the preservation and appreciation of Perrysburg's historic architectural heritage
The Spink House:
Long before this house, perched on the riverside at 503 West Front, was built, Indians are said to have camped on its site just before taking part in the siege of Fort Meigs about half a mile upriver in 1813.
It was known locally as Indian Hill.
It is not known exactly when the house was built (one former owner believes about 1827), or for sure who built it, though it is most frequently associated with John C. Spink, Perrysburg's first mayor in 1833.
And there are all kinds of stories about it, true or false.
503 West Front Street
The land it sits on was once owned by such early Perrysburg pioneers as John Hollister, Thomas W. Powell and David Wilkinson. The latter, a notable lakes captain and later a farmer and lighthouse keeper in Maumee, came here as early as 1815 and helped take the last soldiers at Fort Meigs to Detroit when the government abandoned the fort. He returned with a load of settlers who staked their claims at Orleans of the North on the flatland below the fort. Wilkinson also brought Presidential candidate William Henry Harrison back here for his big political rally in 1840.
This house is of symmetrical Greek Revival style with a centered doorway featuring an entablature supported by pilasters. The single door is surrounded by multi-panel sidelights and a transom topped by a simple cornice. The kitchen occupies the lower level of the structure as it did originally. There are chimneys in the east and west sides, and the garage has been added, as were a back sun porch and deck. As late as 1930 the property had no less than 18 acres along the waterfront. This qualified it as a "farm," and indeed, there were once many fruit trees on the hillside.
Over the years this house is said to have been the old Customs House, a part of the Underground Railway, and a stagecoach stop -- though that is questionable in view of the Spafford Exchange Hotel being in existence a few blocks east on the same street. It is known to have been the Sunnyside Tea Room in the 1920s.
John C. Spink lived in Perrysburg as early as 1823 when the county seat was moved here from Maumee. He served as prosecuting attorney in 1831 and was also a merchant who operated Spink and Company on Louisiana Avenue at the time of his being elected mayor.
In 1836 Spink was among a group of men who bought 450 acres of land on the north side of the river about two miles downstream, platted it and named it Marengo. The money panic the next year resulted in a sheriff's sale of the land and it never developed as a town. He was also one the Whigs in this area who prepared the way for Harrison's return here in 1840.
John Hirth, who operated Hirth Tannery on the Hydraulic Canal down the hill from the house, bought it in 1850. Spink died three years later at the age of 49.