Just as the phoenix rises from the ashes, so are Jeff Clegg and his Toledo Memorial Park staff as they craft innovative solutions to replace the historic stone wall and entry gates that line Monroe Street that will be removed to make way for road construction. A plan to reuse the 23 mature trees that were removed along with the removed utility poles is also under discussion.
Thanks to an Ohio Department of Transportation study, denoting Harroun Road/Monroe Street as a dangerous intersection, a mandate to fix that was issued. Monroe Street is to be widened and 35 feet of park frontage has been taken by eminent domain. The 23 trees have been cut down and utility poles lining the north side of Monroe Street are being reset, which necessitates the removal of the wall.
According to Clegg, the historic wall cannot be moved and stones cannot be saved because of their age and the way the wall was built. “We first tried to salvage the stones, but most of those that were moved actually crumbled. The limestone rocks have been in place for over 100 years, well built by Sylvania craftsmen. While we are all devastated that this beautiful piece of craftsmanship must be removed, we are developing plans to rebuild a stone wall and gates from stone quarried in Indiana,” he stated. The wall and gates are anticipated to be installed in 2025.
The imported roses from England that blossomed along the wall have been transplanted in the back of the park during construction. They will be returned once the new wall is completed.
Reuse of trees and utility poles
Clegg and his staff are making lemonade from lemons. They are looking to build an outdoor chapel adjacent to the 9-11 Memorial using the felled trees and utility poles. “We have saved all of those trees and the poles that are being replaced,” Clegg said. “An outdoor chapel would be a welcome addition and would offer shelter for many of the events we host as well as serving as a chapel. We are using every possible item that we can from this project just as was done when this park was established 100 years ago.”
A centennial celebration will be postponed until 2023 because of the disruption of construction in the park.
A look back
Toledo Memorial Park was originally farmland owned by General David White (1779-1839), and known as Whiteford, Mich. in 1831. The land was plated for home sites in 1832 but never saw full development due to the Ohio-Michigan border dispute, which was settled in September of 1835, moving the Ohio – Michigan state line just north of the city of Sylvania. The land north of Sylvania would become Whiteford. Ironically, Toledo Memorial Park is still evenly split between Sylvania and Whiteford Township, just as General White’s property was split in 1885. General White, in his forever home, is interned in lot l07, just east of the North Branch of the 10-Mile Creek on the grounds of Toledo Memorial Park.
In 1920, a drainage project was begun by crews excavating the bedrock limestone after using explosives to extend and deepen the North Branch of the Ten Mile Creek just as the development of TIM began. Malcolm Lukowski, who owned a 20-acre farm one mile due north of the park was hired to do the initial excavation and roadwork for TMP. During his daily trips from home to the park, Lukowski and his team of horses would haul loads of limestone to the stonemasons building the wall at Toledo Memorial Park. In the evening Lukowski would drop off his empty wagon and pick up the full wagon in the morning on his way to work. This process was repeated each day until the 1,600 feet of limestone wall was completed over two years later. It was stated in the labor union yearbook of 1923 “The stone wall considered the most attractive masonry in Toledo.”
“This is a legacy we hope to continue, as we look to replicate what has been removed and create even more memorable landmarks,” Clegg reflected.