BY GAYLEEN GINDY
The Reeb Funeral Home at 5712 Main Street is our next featured property, as we move north on Main Street. The structure on this property started out as a smaller residential home, built as early as 1866 by Isaac Thorp. In 1886 George B. Dolph and his wife Lucy purchased this home. The following individuals lived in the home between 1886 and 1927, while it was used as a residential house. Also included is the approximate years that each lived here: George B. Dolph from 1886 to 1919; Lucy M. Lewis-Dolph from 1886 to 1909; Maude L. Dolph-Miles from 1886 to 1909; Albert R. Miles from 1890 to 1914; Valentine P. Hawley from 1914 to 1919; George R. Hawley from 1915 to 1919; Darrell C. Hawley from 1917 to 1919; Abda C. Dolph from 1919 to 1921; Mary Dolph from 1919 to 1921. George Dolph died in 1921 and willed the home to his granddaughter, Lucy M. Miles-Hawley, and she rented the house out to various individuals until 1927.|
Abda C. Dolph, the son of George and Lucy Dolph, (uncle of Lucy M. MilesHawley), and George Reeb, both of Sylvania, had been working as partners, starting in 1895, in an undertaking and funeral parlor business by the name of Dolph-Reeb Funeral Home. They had been operating this business out of the building located on the southwest corner of Main Street and Maplewood Avenue operating here until 1927. In 1927, they moved their undertaking business to our featured property at 5712 Main Street, known at that time as the “Hawley house,” renting it from Lucy M. Hawley. In 1942, Mrs. Hawley sold the property to George F. Reeb.
In 1927, when the Dolph-Reeb Funeral Home was moved to this house, the business was operated by George F. Reeb and his son Paul Reeb, while Mr. Dolph had pretty much retired and then he passed away in 1931. George Reeb extensively remodeled the house. The Nov. 3, 1927, Sylvania Sentinel said the following regarding the funeral home: “Sylvanians have been permitted a glimpse of the interior of the thoroughly remodeled Hawley property, where carpenters, painters and electricians under the eye of an expert interior decorator have been working for more than two months. The lower floor contains reception rooms, slumber rooms, offices and several smaller rooms, while the second floor has display rooms, and the living quarters of Mr. and Mrs. George Reeb.”
On July 21, 1927, the Village of Sylvania issued a building permit to V.P. Hawley and Dolph-Reeb and Son giving them permission to rebuild a garage on this property. An advertisement in the back portion of the 1927 Burnham High School yearbook advertised the business of “Dolph-Reeb & Son Ambulance Service” starting at this time.
In 1931, after Abda C. Dolph died, George Reeb changed the name of the funeral parlor to G.F. Reeb & Sons, and then a 1932 advertisement listed them as “The Reeb Funeral Home.”
In 1935, they advertised: “Three decades – three generations – George F. Reeb, Lester S. Reeb, Paul H. Reeb and Paul H. Reeb, Jr. – George F. Reeb & Sons Funeral Home.”
An October, 1938 building permit was granted to George F. Reeb, as the business owner, and E.C. Holt, as the builder, to construct a new entrance to the living quarters portion of the home, and then an April, 1939 building permit was granted to Lucy M. Hawley of Toledo to make alterations to the funeral home structure.
In 1942, Lucy M. Hawley sold the property to George F. Reeb, and in March of 1946, a building permit was issued to George F. Reeb and Sons, with Wayne Roberts as the builder, to remodel and enlarge the funeral home.
In May 1947, another building permit was granted, with Wayne Roberts as the builder, to construct a 6-foot by 9-inch by 21-foot separate entrance-way to the second floor.
A building permit dated Aug. 10, 1950, allowed Reeb Funeral Home to enlarge the funeral home, and enclose the open porches, with Phillip Bettinger as the builder. On Oct. 1, 1956, a building permit was granted to George Reeb, Lucy Reeb, Lester Reeb and Paul Reeb, under the name of George F. Reeb & Sons, to extend the second floor.
On Sept. 26,1962, another building permit was granted to George F. Reeb and Sons, with Fred Entemann, Inc., listed as the builder, granting permission to add 10 feet to the present building and move the old garage to the rear, north portion of the property. Then a Nov. 12, 1962 permit was granted to add a 20-foot by 20-foot addition to the garage. A sign permit was granted on Dec. 7, 1965 to construct an 8-foot by 10- foot sign on Summit Street at the rear entrance.
A building permit dated Nov. 28, 1966 was issued to Reeb Funeral Home, with J. K. Watkins as the builder, to add a two-car garage to the existing garage on the property. On Aug. 3, 1973, George F. Reeb & Sons was granted a building permit, with Calvin E. Smith as their builder, to add a 13-foot by 32-foot addition on the north side of the building. By this time, they had demolished the old First Methodist Church and the church parsonage house to the north in order to add the addition and expand the parking lot.
Between 1973 and 1991, the Reeb Funeral Home owners purchased all the property surrounding their building, along Main Street, Maplewood Avenue and Summit Street; by 1991 the funeral home was undergoing a redecorating project, including adding necessary ramps to make the facility handicap accessible.
In 1997, Reeb Funeral Home was granted a building permit to construct a major addition to the rear of the structure, with the parking lot now extending out to Maplewood Avenue.
Literature from Reeb Funeral Home dated 2010, listed co-owners as George A. Reeb and John K. Watkins. George A. Reeb is the son of past owner, Lester S. Reeb, and grandson of one of the original owners, George F. Reeb.
John K. Watkins started working at this funeral home as a young boy, running errands and doing yard work. He has been associated with this business all these years, including starting the Reeb ambulance service and becoming part-owner in the business. Mr. Watkins has been very active in Sylvania community affairs over the years, including 25 years of service as a volunteer fireman, serving on city council, serving as the safety director for the city of Sylvania and a member of many local organizations.
Today, the Reeb Funeral Home property and building extends between Main and Summit streets, from Maplewood Avenue north to the property line of the old post office building. The current Reeb Funeral Home website lists George A. Reeb and John K. Watkins II as the owners, John K. Watkins and Joseph A. Boes as the directors, and Robert H. Jones as the advanced funeral planning manager.