514 West Front Street

The Spafford House

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The Spafford House:

 

This symmetrical temple-style Greek Revival house at 514 West Front Street, called a good example of its type, may have been built for a member of Perrysburg's premier family, the Spaffords.

The official estimate for the date of construction is around 1848. However, that does not jibe with a generally reliable source who once said that a newspaper found in the walls was dated 1840. Add that to the fact that between 1833 and 1835 the value of the property, according to county records, jumped from $60 to $475, indicating the presence of what at least could be the beginning of what is now the house. Suffice to say, it is one of our oldest.

house

514 West Front Street

The structure features a front-gabled low pitch roof with interrupted, or return, cornice lines, and many of its original windows. A fairly wide frieze board and five six over six windows with working shutters also face Front Street. The main entrance is centered, topped by a ten-pane transom and flanked by sidelights. Detail around the windows and door includes heavily-ribbed molding running into corner blocks. On the east side there is a side door and a first-floor bay window -- both possibly added, as are major additions to the rear.

About who the house was built for, records are hazy but the Spafford name has long been associated with it. It is known that the James and Jarvis Spafford families once owned it so this is an opportunity to be reminded of the Spafford's contributions to the community.

Amos Spafford was born in Sharon, Connecticut in 1753. A surveyor and cartographer, he accompanied Moses Cleaveland, agent for the Connecticut Land Company, on his first visit to the Western Reserve in 1796. During that summer Spafford's crew mapped the future city of Cleveland (it was Spafford who omitted the "a" in the spelling of Cleavelend, either accidentally or intentionally).

After returning east to his home near Rochester, New York, Amos made several trips back to the northeast part of the state, accompanied by his oldest son, Samuel. Liking it, he brought his wife, Olive, and their other children, Anna, Chloe, Aurora and Adolphus, to the place.

In 1809 Amos was elected to the state legislature from Geauga County, but the following year he resigned and moved here when he was appointed Collector of the Port of Miami (that being the original name of the Maumee River). In addition to selling land, he also ran a public house, or tavern. The family lived in a log house at Orleans of the North on the flats near the foot of what was shortly to become Fort Meigs. When the War of 1812 broke out in this vicinity, he sat out the war with his family in Huron County. While gone, his homestead was among those burned by the British and Indians about the time of the sieges of the fort in May and August of 1813.

He returned here in 1815 and built his second house, records saying that he used planking from abandoned scows that were used for shipping army supplies from Fort Defiance. When other settlers returned he went to Washington to plea indemnification for their losses in the war. This second house was presumable the site of the earliest meetings of the Methodist church when Amos was a lay leader of the congregation.

In 1816 the U.S. Congress decided there should be a town located at this site and surveyors platted it. About the same time U.S. Land Commissioner Josiah Meigs asked Amos to select a name, suggesting that it would be appropriate to honor the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie. Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Also at about this time he was given a grant to buy 160 acres of land, the first in the United States 12-mile Square Reserve created when Indians ceded it earlier in the Treaty of Greenville. Several months later Amos Spafford died at age 63.

Two of Amos's sons stand out in Perrysburg's history. Samuel was born in 1774, shortly after returning here after the war, his father gave him a piece of land on which one of the abandoned Fort Meigs blockhouses still stood. Samuel's family lived in the blockhouse for a time and his daughter Mary was born in it in 1819. In 1832 his son, Jarvis, built and operated the Exchange Hotel, which is still the skeleton of the building at 140 West Front Street. It became a near famous hostelry for travelers between Buffalo and St. Louis and later Chicago, and a social center for the community.  Jarvis served as a village councilman and died during the 1854 cholera epidemic. Samuel served as a county commissioner and died at age 57 in 1831.

Aurora Spafford was born in 1793. In 1817 he married Mary Rolph Jones who had the distinction of being the first white woman married in the entire Maumee Valley between Toledo and Fort Wayne, Indiana. In about 1830 he built the home still standing at 27340 West River Road on part of his father's land grant. That house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Aurora was also a leader in the Methodist congregation and early services were also conducted in his house. He served as Wood County treasurer, township trustee and judge of common pleas court, and he died in 1849 at the age of 56.

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