Sylvania–Then and Now— 6817 Erie Street

by Gayleen Gindy
PUBLICATION DATE: March 17, 2020

The house at 6817 Erie St. was part of the Burnham’s Addition platted by Henry and Celestia Burnham in 1901. This subdivision included lots on the south side of Erie St., west of Phillips Ave. There were only two lots along Erie that ended up having homes built on them. The rest of the proposed lots were later incorporated into Burnham Park, which Mrs. Burnham donated to the Village of Sylvania for park purposes in 1911.

The two lots with homes built on them included Lot No. 19 at 6823 Erie St., with the 1917 constructed home that was featured in the last article, and Lot No. 18 at 6817 Erie Street, which has a home built in 1926 on it. This home is not quite 100 years old but it will be included here as it was part of the original Burnham addition.

In 1917, William and Mary Reed purchased these two lots. They built their home on Lot 19 and left Lot 18 vacant while they lived there. Then, in 1925, they sold their house on Lot 19, and sold the vacant lot 18 to William and Pearl Barker. By March of 1926, William Barker was issued a building permit to build this bungalow “catalog” home on the parcel with a two-car garage.

After a review of hundreds of old catalog homes I found there is one featured in the Gordon VanTine homes catalog that was called “The Glendale” with several options available. This may have been the “kit” they purchased. The kit included: “all lumber; all millwork; oak flooring; insulation; built-in conveniences; all hardware; and all exterior paint.” The Barkers owned this home and lived in it for the next 32 years.

The list of owners is as follows:

1925 – William M. and Pearl Barker

1958 – Blanche and Wanda A. Trombly

1977 – Wanda A. Trombly

2002 – Lyle A and Marilyn R. Crots

2014 – Lyle A. and Marilyn R. Crots (Trust)

2017 – Sharon Lange

William Barker and Lottie “Pearl” Kerr were married in 1923 in Flint, Mich. The 1923 and 1924 Flint City Directories show William and Lottie P. Barker living in Flint and he was listed working as a salesman for the Ford Sales Company.

By the 1930 census, William and L. Pearl Barker were listed living here on Erie St. The home was valued at $8,000. He was listed as 37 years old, married at age 30, and employed as a manager in automobile sales. Pearl was listed as his wife, 34 years old, married at age 27 years, and came to the U.S. from Canada. She is listed as naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1904. Living in the home was their daughter Helen, listed as one year old.

William and Pearl were still listed as living here in the 1940 census. He was a manager in auto retail sales and service and she was a bookkeeper for a banking company. Their daughter Helen was 11 years old and attending school. When the first Suburban Directory was published in 1957 William M. Barker was still listed living at this address.

In 1958, Milton Trombly, a farmer from Ottawa Lake, Mich., retired from farming and purchased this house on Erie St. The home was placed in his wife and daughter’s names: Blanche Trombly and Wanda Trombly. Milton lived here until he died in 1964 at the age of 83 years old. His obituary notice said that he had lived for 77 years on his farm in Ottawa Lake, Mich., where he was born. He had been elected to the position of justice of the peace in Whiteford Township from 1928 until 1952, and then he was elected to the Whiteford Township board of trustees. He had also worked for the Whiteford School System before moving to Sylvania in 1958.

His wife, Blanche, continued to live in this home until she died in 1977. At that time the home was transferred to her daughter Wanda, who appears to have been living here with her parents at times.

Wanda Trombly grew up in Ottawa Lake, Mich. and attended the one-room school house there, before attending high school for four years at Sylvania’s Burnham High School, graduating in 1934. She then went on to Bowling Green State University and Davis Business College. She taught school in the public schools in Lulu, Deerfield and Morenci, Mich., and then Clay High School in Oregon. She came to work for the Sylvania School System in 1964 as the business education teacher, retiring in 1979 while teaching at Northview High School, with a total of 40 years as a teacher. She was very active with the United Methodist Church in Sylvania, teaching Sunday School for 15 years there with Libby Hall and her sister Lelah Dorcas.

Wanda sold the house in 2002 to the Crots family. They may be related to Wanda somehow, since her mother’s maiden name was Crots. They stayed here for 15 years before selling it to Sharon Lange in 2017, the publisher of Sylvania Advantage, and has been covering news about Sylvania and its accomplishments for the past 25 years.

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