–by Gayleen Gindy
This house has been known as the Koepfer house since 1910 when it was constructed. The City of Sylvania purchased it in 1998, however during the18 years that the city has owned it many still referred to it as the Koepfer house. The list of owners included the Koepfer last name through 1998, as follows:
- 1906 – Frank and Frances M. Koepfer
- 1910 – House was constructed by Koepfer
- 1941 – Frances M. Koepfer
- 1953 – Marguerite R. Koepfer
- 1982 – Frank J. and Marguerite Koepfer
- 1984 – Marguerite Koepfer
- 1998 – City of Sylvania
- 2016 – Jeffrey J. Stansley
- 2017 – Natural Resources Management LLC
In 1910 when Frank and Frances Koepfer owned this property they built this house. Frank Koepfer married Frances Myers in 1903 in Lucas County. Her brother and sister-in-law were Fred V. and Diora Myers. The Koepfers and the Myers jointly owned the Sylvania Auto Sales business and building in Sylvania for many years. Inside The Five is located there today.
According to a very early Sylvania newspaper, Koepfer held his grand opening for Koepfer Warehouse Sales on May 13, 1904, on Indiana Avenue, the first door west of what was then a hotel. Today this is where the Sylvania Gardens Apartments are on Maplewood Avenue. He was selling buggies, wagons, plows, binders, windmills, pumps, drills cultivators, loaders, planters, farm trucks and “everything used on the farm.”
The 1910 census shows the Koepfers already living in this home on Maplewood Avenue. Frank was listed as 34 years old, married six years and working as the proprietor of a hardware store. They are listed as owning the home free of mortgage. His wife Francis was listed as 28 years old. Also living in the household was Lucille Koepfer – daughter – 5 years old; Mildred Koepfer – daughter – 4 years old; and Louisa Koepfer – sister – 38 years old – single – seamstress at the tannery.
The Sylvania Sentinel reported on May 9, 1918, that Frank Koepfer suffered a broken leg when cranking an auto on the street. He stated that he threw his weight onto the limb in such a manner as to cause the fracture. In September of 1918, Frank Koepfer completed his World War I registration card and listed himself as 42 years old and employed as an implement merchant.
In the 1920 census, Frank Koepfer and his wife were still listed living here. He was 44 years old and employed as a retail hardware merchant. His wife was listed as Frances – 37 years old, and three daughters were living at home: Lucille M. Koepfer – 15 years old; Mildred J. Koepfer – 13 years old; and Madeline F. Koepfer – 9 years old.
An advertisement in the 1927 Sylvania Sentinel read, “Koepfer Hardware & Implement Co. – selling Chrysler Automobiles and Farm Machinery on Main Street in Sylvania.”
The Sylvania Sentinel dated Feb. 23, 1928, reported that a volunteer fireman was injured while fighting a fire that did $250 damage to the home of Frank J. Koepfer on Maplewood Avenue, while they were away from home. The fire was of undetermined origin and burned part of the roof. Koepfer publicly thanked the firemen for the way they handled the blaze, as little damage was done by the chemicals and no water was used, saving damage to the contents of the house.
In the 1930 census, Frank and Frances Koepfer were still living here in the home, now valued at $10,000. Frank was 54 years old and still operating his hardware and implement store. Frances was listed as his wife at 49 years old. Still living at home was their daughter Madelyn – 19 years old and their son Frank J., listed as 9 years old.
In the 1940 census, Frank and Frances were again listed living here. He was 64 years old and listed as a retired hardware dealer. She was shown as 58 years old and Frank J. Koepfer, Jr. was living at home at age 19 years. Frank, Jr. graduated from Burnham High School in Sylvania in 1938.
On Nov. 11, 1940, the Toledo Blade reported that Frank Koepfer, 64 years, retired Sylvania hardware merchant, died in a hospital in Clair, Michigan of injuries suffered in an automobile accident that occurred Oct. 11 while he was en route to northern Michigan for a hunting trip with his son-in-law, Arnold Koester.
In 1941 the home transferred into Frances Koepfer’s name. When Frank Koepfer, Jr. completed his World War II registration card in 1942 he was 21 years old, working at Bostwick-Braun Company in Toledo, and still living at home at 6715 Maplewood Ave. In October of 1942, according to the Sylvania Sentinel, he left for Chicago to enter the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. His address was Co. 1317, USNTS, Great Lakes, Ill. By September of 1945 Frank Koepfer, Jr., was a storekeeper First Class U.S.N.R. and had been assigned to the Naval Separation Center at Bay View Park in Toledo to assist in the demobilization of Navy men. As of Nov. 1, 1945, he had been promoted to Chief Petty Officer and his work continued at the Naval Separation Center in Toledo. Frank Jr. married Marguerite Burns on March 5, 1946. They met while in the Navy and were both stationed at the Toledo Naval Armory. He was discharged from the Navy on May 16, 1946.
In 1947 his widowed mother, Frances Koepfer, purchased a smaller home at 5655 Balfour in Sylvania, where she moved and lived until about August of 1973. She then moved to the Marigarde Nursing Home and passed away in November of 1973 at the age of 91 years.
Frank and Marguerite lived on Maplewood after his mother moved out, and in 1953 they purchased the home. In 1954 he began operating Koepfer Hardware at 5629 Main Street in downtown Sylvania. He operated this store until 1966, and after closing it up he became a salesman in the paint department of Sears Roebuck & Co. for 16 years, before retiring in 1983. He died at the age of 63 years in 1984. His survivors included his wife Marguerite;
sons, Eric, Kent, Frank and John; and daughters: Mrs. Sharon Gummow, Mrs. Carolyn Surprise, Mrs. Kathleen LaRue, Mrs. Peggy Youssef, Mrs. Jeanne Wechsel, Susan Koepfer, and Ellen Koepfer. In case you lost count that is 11 children.
Marguerite Koepfer continued to live in this home after her husband died until she passed away on August 11, 1998, at the age of 75 years. Her obituary notice said that she was a homemaker for most of her life. She was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving as a storekeeper at the Great Lakes Naval Station during World War II. When she died she had 23 grandchildren.
One of their eleven children came to my attention in December of 2011 when an article was written about Kent Koepfer, who had been living in Bedford, Mich. for many years. Each Christmas season he set up a winter display in his living room which featured memories of his hometown of Sylvania, and the scenes were inspired by his 1960s memories of growing up in Sylvania and his father’s hardware store on Main Street. I’m sure those 11 Koepfers who grew up in this house have many stories.
The city owned this home from 1998 through 2016 and it was mostly vacant, but occasionally used as an office by state auditors while conducting audits, and other office uses. On Nov. 27, 2002, the City of Sylvania completed a demolition permit to demolish the home, and it was issued by the zoning inspector on Jan. 6, 2003. However, for an unknown reason, the house was spared and in 2016 the city sold it. May 16, 1946. In 1947, his widowed mother, Frances Koepfer, purchased a smaller home at 5655 Balfour St. in Sylvania, where she moved and lived until about August of 1973. She then moved to the Marigarde Nursing Home and passed away in November of 1973 at the age of 91.