Sylvania–Then and Now: 5723 Main Street

–by Gayleen Gindy

5723 Main Street

This next property is somewhat near and dear to my heart because this is the house where I grew up, and there was no better place to grow up than in downtown Sylvania. This house had that wonderful wraparound front porch, and back in the 1960s and 70s when we lived in this house, there was constant foot traffic past our house. The post office and church were across the street, the Sterling Milk store and Medic Drug Store to the north, and downtown Sylvania to the south. Just about once or twice a week we would set up a Kool-Aid stand in our front yard, and we’d have never ending customers. Maybe you remember us? We went through lots of Kool-Aid and made enough money to afterward take a trip down to Seitz Bakery, Lindau’s Soda Fountain, or Sterling’s for their large selection of penny candy. Remember?

Focusing now on the house, the original portion was constructed in 1858. It had many different additions that can be seen by standing in the back and looking up at the various gables that exist in odd places.

John Henry Parker purchased this property in 1858, along with the property that surrounds it. Mr. Parker was born in 1822 in Massachusetts and married Almyra Harwood in 1855 in Bedford, Mich. In 1858 they came to Sylvania and he built this house at 5723 Main. Over the next 40 years that he lived here he added additions to the house to accommodate his five children. At the 1860 census, he and Almyra were living in this house. He was listed as 38 years old and his occupation was “cooper,” and she was listed as 26 years old. This census also lists the following living in the home: Francis, son, 10 years old; Maggie, daughter, 5 years old; and Cordelia Grum, house servant, 18 years old.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, John Parker was 39 years old and considered too old to serve, but at the end of the war, when President Lincoln called for any and all available men, John Henry Parker stepped up and volunteered his services, joining as a private in Company G of the 130th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served from May 2, 1864 to Sept. 22, 1864, a total of 4 months and 20 days. He was 42 years old at the time.

After returning from the war, John and Almyra had three more children while living at the house, Gladys, born 1865; Mary, born 1867; and Lillian, born 1870. At the 1870 census John and Almyra were living on Main Street and he was 47 years old and listed as a farmer, and Almyra was 37 years old. Living at home was Gladys, 5 years; Mary, 3 years; and Lillian, 3 months. Also living in the house was Polly Nixon, 82 years old, who was John’s mother. At this time they were farming their small plot of ground, which extended to the railroad tracks.

In about 1875 Mr. Parker purchased additional property in downtown Sylvania and built a structure where he ran a grocery store. In 1877 and 1878 he was elected to the position of Sylvania Village Council.

At the 1880 census, he was listed as Henry Parker, 57 years old, retail grocer, while his wife Almyra was listed as 47 years old. The following children were still living in the house: Gladys, 15 years; Mary, 12 years; and Lillian, 10 years. Also living here, listed as a boarder, was Andrew Reger, 26 years old.

The Toledo Blade dated Jan. 23, 1884, reads as follows: “Sylvania, Ohio – At 11:30 Sunday forenoon smoke was seen issuing from the upper story of a house on Division Street, owned by J.H. Parker, and occupied by him as a dwelling house. The fire originated from the chimney in the upper story and had gained considerable headway when discovered, and for a time the chances were that the building must go. It was very warm work for the boys but they soon had the fire checked as water was plenty. Loss estimated at $300, and fully insured.” The house was rebuilt at this time, repairing all areas damaged by fire. This was probably when the front portion of the house was added, to include a large front bedroom on the second floor, a living room, parlor room, and the wrap around front porch on the first floor, and a basement.

Mr. Parker did not have good luck with fires because records show that in 1887 when the entire west side of downtown Main Street was destroyed by fire, his grocery store was one of the buildings. He rebuilt his store and continued in the grocery business in Sylvania until he died in 1897. An interesting fact about his grocery store and this house is that in about 1990 when the owner of this home was remodeling in the upstairs front bedroom, he pulled down one of the walls and behind the wall he found a crate. Inside the crate, he found some old bottles still filled with its black syrupy contents and an account book that had belonged to John Henry Parker, where he kept track of his income and expenses each day at his grocery store. I wonder whatever became of that account book? How interesting that would be to members of the Sylvania Area Historical Society today!

Almyra continued to live in this house until after the 1920 census, where she was listed as 85 years old. After this census, because of health reasons, she had to move and spent her remaining years living with one or the other of her three surviving daughters. In 1913, she had transferred this house to her youngest daughter Lillian Carl, and then in 1914, the house was sold to Mrs. Uriah Cooke, with a life lease allowing Almyra Parker to live in the house until she died. When Mrs. Parker died in 1925 she was living with her daughter Mrs. Kroh at 2137 Adams Street in Toledo.

After Mrs. Parker vacated the house, Dr. and Mrs. Uriah Cooke, who lived next door, took over ownership of the home, and from about 1925 until 1990 the house was rented out. Using the various resources available, the following people rented this house:

1926 – Sylvania post office list shows that Guy Gloyd was renting the house.

1930 – census – Renting the home for $45 per month was the family of Lester and Evelyn Pair, with their adult children: Donald Pair, 28 years; Darrell E. Pair, 27 years; Orville Pair, 29 years; and Bonita E. Pair, 23 years. They were all working at the bus garage or telephone company.

1933 – Water meter list for the Village of Sylvania shows U.A. Cooke as owner and “Pair – tenant.”

1940 – census – renting home for $35 per month: Lucinda H. Gray, 97 years old, widow, occupation – none; Sarah A. Gray, daughter, 71 years old, single, occupation – assisting manager – greenhouse; Lou E. Gray, daughter, 69 years old, single – occupation – none

1945 to 1948 – Stanley & Helen Kjoller

March 19, 1952 – House ownership was transferred to Elizabeth G. Cooke Kuhlman, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Cooke

1948 to 1955 – L.A. Waterman

1955 – Advertisement in the Sylvania Sentinel reads: “SYLVANIA CARRY ALL. We collect garbage, rubbish, ashes. Commercial and Residential. L.A. Waterman LU 2-2691, 5723 Main.”

1957 thru 1963 – Elmer K. and Norma Cline

1964 –1966 – Arthur P. Ach and family (Building Contractor)

1966 thru 1973 – Charles V. and Carolyn J. Sullins and five children

1973 thru 1977 – Carolyn J. Sullins and five children

1977 thru June-1984 – Jill and Mark Dallas

1984 thru 1986 – Randall A. and Leslie Boudouris

1987 and 1988 – Charles V. Hopkins

1989 – Owner Elizabeth Cooke-Kuhlman died and house was transferred to her daughter Marilyn E. Enz

1990 – House was vacant when sold on May 24, 1990, to James K. Jr. and Gina M. Ragland.

Nov. 24, 1993 – House was purchased by the city of Sylvania

1995 – Sylvania City council approved a lease with Aurum & Argent Studio, Michael Biscay

1999 – Robin Crego – Garden Delights

2010 – Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage opened

2013 – Heaven’s Gate Soy Candles – Jacquelyn M. Olender

2015 – Ka’Bloom Flowers & Gifts – Mark and Janet Lair

2015 – Creative Oxygen on the second floor

2016 – Ka’Bloom Flowers & Gifts under new ownership, Holly and Jim Lopinski, then name changed to Stellar Blooms