Sylvania–Then and Now–5702 & 5704 Summit St.

by Gayleen Gindy

Dr. John A. Counter had this house built by 1907, originally as a one-story home, and he and his wife, Helen, lived here for over 40 years.

Recorded owners are:

  • 1906 – John A. Counter
  • 1952 – Dorothy Counter
  • 1952 – Fred W. & Cecilia Utz
  • 1967 – Fred Utz
  • 1969 – Georgia Jeanne Utz-Walasinski
  • 1976 to current – James M. Irons

Dr. Counter was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and graduated from Harvard University School of Dentistry. He was one of Sylvania’s earliest dentists, coming here once a week in 1901 to take care of Sylvania’s dental patients. He also worked one day a week in Metamora and spent the other days in his dental office in Toledo. He moved his business to Sylvania in 1906, renting an office on the first floor of today’s Revé building. He then moved his office to the second floor of the building on the SW corner of Main Street and Maplewood Avenue, now the Fiddle Stix building, and stayed until 1927 when he moved his office to the subject home. 

In the 1910 census, John and Helen Counter were listed living in this home on Summit Street. He was 35 years old and had immigrated to the U.S. in 1899. Helen was listed as 32 years old and born in Ohio. They were married in 1902. Living with them was his father and mother, George and Margaret Counter. Their daughter was born in 1913.

Records show that Dr. Counter was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1918. In 1919 Dr. Counter purchased the home to the south of his and converted that single-family home into two units where his father and mother lived in one unit, while he rented out the other half of the home. 

The 1920 census shows John and Helen living in the home he built. He was listed as 44 years old, owning the home free of mortgage, and was employed as a dentist. Helen was 42 years old and their daughter Dorothy was 6 years old. His father and mother were still living in the home to the south at this time. 

In 1927 a building permit was issued to Dr. Counter to add a second story to this home, and the Sylvania Sentinel newspaper dated Aug. 11, 1927, said, “Dr. J.A. Counter is remodeling his residence on Summit Street by adding another story. His intention is to convert the building into a modern duplex.” 

At the time the second story was added Dr. Counter also converted the south side of the building into his dental office. According to the Aug. 2, 1928 issue of the Sentinel, Dr. Counter was moving his offices from the Dolph-Reeb building to his residence on Summit Street. 

The 1930 census showed John and Helen Counter living at the address of 5702 Summit on the first floor of this now two-story home. He was listed as 55 years old, owned the home valued at $10,000, and employed as a dentist. Helen was listed as 53 years old, and their daughter Dorothy was 16 years old and attending school. John’s father, George Counter, was still living next door. 

By the 1940 census, John and his wife Helen were still living here and their daughter Dorothy was living at home. She was 26 years old and had attended college. She was listed as the owner and manager of a dairy farm located on Erie Street at Maplewood Avenue. 

Advertisements in just about every issue of the local newspaper throughout the years read, “Dr. J.A. Counter – Dentist Office – 5702 Summit St. – All Branches of Dentistry including x-rays, Nitrous-oxide gas – Phone 146.” 

An article in the Feb. 2, 1950 issue of the Sentinel newspaper, written about Dr. Counter, reported, “In the early days of his practice here, the Doctor owned the land on the opposite side of Ottawa Creek in the rear of his home, which is now part of Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery. On this farmland, the doctor raised Holstein cattle and for his convenience, he had erected a footbridge across the deep gully at the bottom of the sluggish creek. Many old-timers can recall crossing this bridge for picnics in the groves on his farmland.” 

Mrs. Counter died in February of 1951at the age of 74. Records show that in early April of 1951 Dr. Counter had a stroke, and in February of 1952, he died at the age of 77. This duplex was transferred to their daughter Dorothy and she sold it that same year. Dorothy never married, lived in Maryland working as a CPA. She was listed in the third edition of Who’s Who of American Women. 

The next owners were Fred and Cecelia Utz in 1952. They owned and rented it out until 1969 when it transferred it to their daughter, who owned it until 1976. She married Arnold Stansley in 1977.

The first suburban directory available that listed this address was the 1959 book which shows Joseph B. Thornhill, ådentist, renting the office area. The dentist office was converted into a third apartment unit by 1965. In 1976 James Irons purchased the property. He is shown moving to the 5704 unit from 1977 through 1982. The other units have been rented out and Mr. Irons still owns both homes.

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