Sylvania Then & Now – 6235 Monroe Street

Gayleen Gindy

This article is written in memory of Christmases past in Sylvania. Up until 1982 there was a large double house on the southeast corner of Monroe Street and Harroun Road, where the Kroger gas station is today. Each generation over the years has had a different memory of this old house. What I remember from my childhood in the 1960s and 1970s, was purchasing live Christmas trees there each year. The Christmas trees would be in front of the house and spanned east on the vacant land where there was once the Sylvandale Poultry Farm.

The house was demolished in 1982 after the Kroger Company purchased it. By then it had suffered numerous fires, misuse due to turkeys and chickens roaming through the house and overall neglect. Many old-timers tell stories of this home having tunnels leading to the creek and being part of Underground Railroad activities back before the Civil War, but the truth is this home was constructed in 1905, by Thomas and Emma (Crowell) Barkdull. He and his brother had co-owned a successful printing business in Toledo since 1873, and he had been elected as the Lucas County Recorder for several terms in the 1890s. The brothers were also Civil War veterans.

The Barkdulls had lived in Toledo, and in 1905 purchased this 24 acres and built this double house as their retirement home. They lived on one side of the home while Emma’s sister, Frances Crowell, who never married, lived in the other side. In 1905, when they moved to Sylvania, Thomas was 60 years old, Emma was 55 years old and Frances was 57 years old. They called it their “country farm” and named it Sunny Brook Farm.

This living arrangement lasted for two years until Emma Barkdull died in 1907. Two years later Thomas Barkdull married Frances, Emma’s sister. When the 1910 census was taken Thomas and Frances were living on one side of the house and renting out the other side.

Thomas died in 1912 and when the 1920 census was taken Frances Barkdull – 72 years old, was living in the home with her housekeeper, Bertha Knight – 36 years, while renting out the other side. Frances died on April 28, 1923. In 1925, the home and surrounding 24 acres were sold to the Snyder-Parker Monument Company.

This company was established in 1924 by Kenneth L. Parker, Frank H. Snyder and Lellah M. Nash. In the Toledo City Directories they were listed as manufacturers of high grade monuments and markers. Their main offices were on Dorr Street across from the Cavalry Cemetery. They purchased this property because in 1922 Toledo Memorial Park Cemetery opened for business across the street and they were selling their monuments. This company owned the house until in 1969, when Lellah Nash became full owner.

Starting in 1928, the monument company rented the home and surrounding property to Mrs. Edith Heilner, who had recently separated from her husband. With the help of her two children, Jane and Reynold, and hired help, Mrs. Heilner restored the house and surrounding property. By October of 1929 the family opened “one of the most up-to-date tea houses in this section,” named Inn the Pines. She used the basement for her commercial kitchen. The main floor had two kitchens, part of the original house, and a large dining room. The second floor provided lodging for guests, and the third floor served as a ballroom that had a bandstand where every weekend she provided entertainment. The outside grounds behind the house, all the way to the creek where there was a small wooden footbridge that crossed the creek, were also used. Guests could walk around while waiting until there was a table available. In July of 1930 she obtained a building permit to build a 34-foot by 46-foot outdoor dance platform for dancing under the stars, with a 6-foot by 11-foot stage.

She hired high school girls to serve meals, including her daughter. They were open seven days a week, serving lunch starting at 11 am to 2 pm, tea from 3 to 5 pm, and dinner from 6 to 9 pm. She also catered private parties, weddings, bridge teas, dinners, luncheons and banquets by appointment.

The business was doing well until January of 1934, when there was a fire that ended the business. According to her daughter Jane, Edith Heilner operated the business here until Jane graduated from Burnham High School. After that her mother operated the same type of business at several other locations in Toledo.

In October of 1934, the Snyder-Parker Monument Company asked the city to shut off the water for the winter because the property was empty. Then in April of 1938 there was another fire in the house. The headlines said that firemen fought the blaze for three hours before it was extinguished. The fire was of undetermined origin and started in the attic. It was discovered by Mrs. Florence Staab who was occupying an upper apartment. Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Wickett were also living here and the Snyder-Parker Monument Company had an office in the building.


After the fire, the turkeys and chickens from the poultry farm started occupying the house and it went downhill from there. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the property was used during the holidays for the sale of Christmas trees, grave blankets and wreaths.

The Kroger Company purchased the old house in 1981, and the general contractor used the east dining room as their field office during the construction of the Kroger store throughout 1982. After the store was completed they demolished the house.

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