Sylvania–Then and Now–5200 S. Main Street

by Gayleen Gindy

Continuing with the houses that are 100 years old, or older, on South Main Street, our next house is directly across the street from where Convent Boulevard intersects. This house was built in 1918 by Joseph Hittler, Jr. He purchased this parcel in 1917 and built the house by 1918.

The owners from 1917 to current included:

  • 1917 – Joseph Hittler
  • 1939 – Raymond G. and Dorothy E. Hittler
  • 1944 – Donald A. and Winifred B. Groh
  • 1952 – Robert H. and Virginia H. Blacklidge
  • 1979 – Virginia H. Blacklidge
  • 1989 – Beverly Sinclair
  • 2001 – Bernard III and Sherry K. Williamson
  • 2010 – Federal National Mortgage
  • 2011 to current – Mark A. Nelson

At the 1900 census Joseph Hittler, Jr. and his first wife Rose (Bellman) are found living in the home that they owned at 5753 N. Main St. with their children: Bertha, Bernard and Cyril. (Raymond was born later that year). Joseph is listed as a blacksmith. His wife Rose died in 1902 and Mr. Hittler was remarried to Emma Marie Schoen in 1903. They were still living on N. Main Street when the 1910 census was taken, and now, his father, Joseph Hittler, Sr – 74, and mother Tracey – 73, were living with them. He is employed now as carpenter-builder. His mother died in 1910 and his father died in 1914. 

In 1915 Mr. Hittler purchased an 86-acre parcel of land on the north side of Convent Boulevard  and constructed a home there. Today that home still exists on the Lourdes University campus and is used by the Sisters of St. Francis as one of their facilities.

In 1916 Mr. Hittler sold his home on North Main Street. Then on Aug. 3, 1917 he sold the home and 86 acres on Clarke Street (now known as Convent Boulevard) to the Sisters of Immaculate Conception. On Nov. 5, 1917 Mr. Hittler purchased our subject property at 5200 Main St. His second wife, Emma, died shortly after on Nov. 25, 1917. In 1918 he built this home on South Main Street, along with the block garage behind it. In 1919, at the age of 54 years old, he married his third wife, Rosa Jacob. Rosa was 43 years old. 

At the 1920 census Joseph and Rosa are living  in our subject home. He owned the home free of mortgage. He was listed as 54 years old and employed as a house carpenter. His wife Rosa was 44 years old. Living at home was his son Bernard W. – 22 years old – employed as a salesman for a retail hardware store; and Raymond G. – 18 years old – employed as a laborer at a toy shop. 

The 1930 census shows Joseph and Rosa Hittler are living in this home by themselves. The home was valued at $7,000. He is listed as 65 years old and still employed as a carpenter of buildings. Rosa was 54 years old. 

In 1939 Joseph Hittler’s son Raymond, and his wife, Dorothy, purchased the home, and when the 1940 census was taken Raymond and wife Dorothy are listed living here. Also living with them was his father and step-mother. The following were listed living in the home: Raymond – 39 years old – clerk at the electric light company; Dorothy – wife – 37 years old; Ramona – daughter – 15 years; Joseph  – son – 13 years; Elaine – daughter – 11 years; Jerry – son – 6 years; Joseph Hittler, Sr. – father – 75 years old – not employed; Rose – step-mother – 64 years old. 

In 1942 Raymond Hittler completed his World War II registration card listing his address as 5200 Main St. He was 41 years old and employed with the Toledo Edison Company. He listed his wife as Dorothy. 

In 1944 Raymond and Dorothy sold this home to Donald A. and Winifred B. Groh. They lived here for about eight years. They were married in 1944 and the marriage announcement in the Sandusky Register on Feb. 9, 1944 reads: “Now spending a leave at New Orleans, Louisiana, are Air Cadet and Mrs. Donald A. Grohs, who were wed last week at Lawson General Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Air Cadet Grohs is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Grohs, 423 Lawrence St. and his bride, the former Winifred J. Brooks of Kalamazoo, Mich., is a second lieutenant with the Army Nurses Corps.” 

Another announcement said that a reception was held at the nurses’ quarters, and Cadet and Mrs. Grohs left for New Orleans. It also said that when Cadet Grohs returns to duty soon, his bride will remain on the staff at Lawson General Hospital. Winifred served during World War II from Feb. 1, 1941 until Aug. 25, 1944, and Donald served with the Army from Aug. 20, 1942 until Apr. 13, 1944. They purchased this house on Aug. 19, 1944. I am not sure what brought them to Sylvania, but after they sold the home in 1952 they moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Winifred’s obituary notice in 1957 said she was 38 years old and died unexpectedly in a hospital in Ann Arbor. Surviving besides her husband were two daughters, Mary Helen and Martha, and two sons John and David, all at home in Kalamazoo. Donald Groh died in 1990 in Kalamazoo. 

In 1952 Robert and Virginia Blacklidge purchased this home. They owned it for 37 years. Robert married Virginia Hardy in 1935 in Lucas County. He served in the Marines during World War II from Jan 18, 1943 until May 3, 1946. They purchased a home in 1941 on Homeside Street in Toledo first, before purchasing this home and moving here, but they continued to own the Homeside Street home through 1966. 

Robert Blacklidge died in 1979 at the age of 67 years. His obituary notice said he was a heavy equipment operator for the S.E. Johnson Construction Co. for 20 years, retiring in 1977. Surviving was his wife, Virginia; daughter, Beverly Sinclair, and son, Robert Hardy Blacklidge. 

Virginia continued to live here after her husband died, and in 1989 transferred the home to her daughter, Beverly Sinclair, while continuing to live here until just before she passed away in 2000. 

Beverly Sinclair owned the home from 1989 until 2001. Beverly Blacklidge graduated from Sylvania High School in 1966. She was married, then later divorced in 1975, and lived in North Toledo for a period of time before returning to Sylvania to live and care for her mother. During that time they both were members of the Sylvania Area Historical Society in the early years of the organization. Her mother had invited the members to see her very large collection of homemade miniature doll accessories. In February of 1993 Beverly was issued a building permit from the city of Sylvania to allow interior upgrades to the workshop/storage accessory building in the rear. Her mother passed away in 2000 and she sold the home in 2001, and moved to a home on Clover Lane in Toledo. 

Bernard and Sherry Williamson owned this home from 2001 until 2010. The directories throughout those years show Terry A. Wrest and Clean Tech Janitor Service occupying the home through most of that time, but also shows Bernard Williamson III in 2004 and 2005. 

From 2011 to current, Mark Nelson has owned the home. Mark is first shown living in the home to the south at 5166 Main St. and then he purchased this home in 2011. Directories indicate that he moved here and rented out the house to the south until he sold that home in 2019. 

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