Sylvania Then & Now – 5778 Summit Street

By Gayleen Gindy

This Summit Street house is over 100 years old, and was built in 1919 while owned by Viola C. Smith. Her parents were John Vanorman and Harriett Harroun Vanorman Hubbard. Her full name was Viola Clarabelle Vanorman, and she went by Clara. Her father was killed in action during the Civil War when she was very young. Her mother was re-married to Henry Hubbard, and they lived in a house that used to be located on this same property, which Clara inherited after they died.

Clara first married Louis Rhoades in 1880 and after he died, she married Lucius D. Smith in 1898. They lived in Illinois, South Dakota and then Florida, where he died in 1918. By 1919 Clara had returned to Sylvania, to the street where she grew up, and had the current house built on the property that her mother had given her and her first husband, L.D. Smith, in 1912.

By the 1920 census Clara Smith was listed living in this house and owned it free of mortgage. She was listed as 61 years old, widowed and unemployed. A 1925 Sylvania post office address listing shows that Mrs. Clara Smith was still living here, and the 1930 census also listed her living here. She was 71 years old, widowed, owned the home valued at $5,000 and unemployed. Living with her was Nellie Hutchinson – lodger – 75 years old – unemployed.

Viola Clarabelle VanOrman-Rhoades-Smith died in December of 1930 and the family sold the home in 1931 to David H. Nhare. He had married Zenobia Olrich in 1923 in Ottawa Lake, Michigan. They were renting a home on Maplewood Avenue according to the 1930 census and he was the manager of an implement business.

At the 1940 census David and Zenobia were living in this house. He was listed as 40 years old and employed as a salesman and dealer of farm machinery. She was listed as 38 years old. In 1942 when David Nhare completed his World War II registration card he listed 5778 Summit St. as his address, he was 42 years old and said he was self-employed. His father Chester Nhare died in 1943 and was listed as a farmer who lived on Acres Road in Ottawa Lake, which is where David was born. His mother, Allena Nhare passed away in 1946.

In 1944 David and Zenobia purchased property at 6028 Summit St. and they had a new home constructed on that property by 1950, while continuing to own our subject home through 1969. When the 1950 census was taken David and Zenobia were still living in our subject home. He was listed as 50 years old and she was listed as 48 years old. Shortly after the 1950 census was taken they moved to their new home located down the street. From 1951 through 1959 they rented this house out to Fayiz G. Naim. He operated a barber shop in downtown Sylvania. According to the Suburban Directories, as of 1960 they were renting the home to Kenneth S. Larzelere through 1969 when the Nhares sold the home to Ralph F. and Isabell M. Smith, who had been residing on Long Street in Sylvania.

Ralph and Isabell lived here from 1969 until she died in 1987, and then he sold the home to his granddaughter in 1995. Isabell’s obituary notice listed her survivors as her husband, Ralph; daughters, Marie Parker, Catherine Bell, Loretta Crown, and Mary Jo Hoffmann; and sons, Kenneth and Lawrence. Ralph died in 1997, and his obituary notice said he had been living on Convent Boulevard at that time, and formerly lived on Summit Street. He was employed by the John Deere Company for 26 years, retiring in 1971. They were both buried in St. Joseph Cemetery in Sylvania.

In 1995 Matthew and Elaine (Hoffman) Dickendasher purchased the home. Elaine is the daughter of Eugene and Mary Jo (Smith) Hoffmann who currently owns the home just to the north, and she was the granddaughter of Ralph and Isabell Smith, who previously owned this home. Matthew and Elaine owned the home together until in February of 2020 when he passed away at 59 years old. His obituary notice shows that he was survived by his loving wife, Elaine; sons, John (Amber), Paul, Christopher and Matthew.

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