History lives in Toledo's Old West End, home to one of the largest neighborhoods of intact late-Victorian, Edwardian and Arts & Crafts homes east of the Mississippi.
The neighborhood started with one log cabin in 1818. A tavern and a store appeared there by the late 1820s. Toledo's wealthiest citizens who wanted to live out in the "country" moved to the Old West End by the late 1870s and built many of the majestic homes that still line neighborhood streets.
Fans of late-19th-century architecture can easily spend an afternoon walking through the Old West End and admiring block-after-block of Colonial, Georgian, Italian Renaissance, Queen Anne, Dutch Colonial, French Second Empire and Arts and Crafts homes.
Homes range from 1,200-square-foot houses to 10,000-square-foot mansions like the 1887-vintage Reynolds-Secor Home, which is now a bed-and-breakfast and events center, the Mansion View Inn, on Collingwood Avenue.
Be sure to check out the Libbey home, built for Edward and Florence Libbey in 1895, on Scottwood Avenue.
Edward moved his New England-based glass business to Toledo in 1888 because of its ready access to affordable resources like land, workers, the railroad and supplies of natural gas and sand. The Libbey Glass Company thrived as a supplier of affordable glass tableware, and Edward turned his attention to courting a local girl named Florence Scott, granddaughter of Jesup W. Scott, one of Toledo's founders.
Florence loved the arts, and the Libbeys founded the Toledo Museum of Art in 1901. You can see the present-day Toledo Museum of Art from the grounds of the Libbey house.
In 2008, the Libbey House Foundation purchased the house.
Foundation chairman Phil Williams says the group plans to restore the house to its circa 1915 appearance. Plans also include establishing exhibits about the history of "the Glass City" and glass industry innovations during its development and commercialization during 1890-1925.
"The house is in amazingly good shape. It's as sound as can be," says Williams, who hopes to open it for public events and tours in a year or so.
These beautiful old houses require a lot of dedication to preserve, but it always seems like a least a few people are working on their homes each time I visit the neighborhood.
The neighborhood's annual King Wamba parade and festival (next scheduled for June 2, 2012) draws about 10,000 people for this "Mardi Gras of the Midwest" with activities like home tours, art fairs, live music and food booths.
You can also tour some Old West End homes during the Tours de Noel sponsored by the Women of Old West End on Sunday, December 4.