Sylvania Then & Now – 5723 Main Street, Part 1

Gayleen Gindy


This property is somewhat near and dear to my heart as this is the house where I grew up. This house has that wonderful wraparound front porch, and back in the 1960s and 70s there was constant foot traffic past our house. The post office and church were across the street, the Sterling Milk store and Medic Drug Store were to the north, and downtown Sylvania to the south. Just about once or twice a week we would set up a Kool-Aid stand in our front yard, and had never ending customers. We went through lots of Kool-Aid and made enough money to take a trip down to Seitz Bakery, Lindau’s Soda Fountain, or Sterling’s for their large selection of penny candy. Remember?

The original portion of this house was constructed in 1858. Many different additions can be seen by standing in the back and seeing the various gables.

John Henry Parker purchased this property in 1858, along with the property that surrounds it. He was born in 1822 in Massachusetts and married Almyra Harwood in 1855 in Bedford, Mich. In 1858 they came to Sylvania and he built this house. Over the next 40 years he added additions to the house to accommodate his five children. In the 1860 census he and Almyra were living here. He was listed as 38 years old and his occupation was “cooper,” and she was listed as 26 years old. This census also lists the following living in the home: Francis, son, 10; Maggie, daughter, 5; and Cordelia Grum, house servant, 18 years old.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, John Parker was 39 years old and considered too old to serve, but at the end of the war, when President Abraham Lincoln called for all available men, Parker volunteered his services, joining as a private in Company G of the 130th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served from May 2 to Sept. 22, 1864.


After returning from the war, the Parkers had three more children – Gladys, born 1865; Mary, born 1867; and Lillian, born 1870. In the 1870 census John and Almyra were living on Main Street and he was 47 years old and listed as a farmer, and Almyra was 37 years old. Living at home was Gladys, 5 years; Mary, 3 years; and Lillian, 3 months. Also living in the house was John’s mother, Polly Nixon, 82 years old. They farmed their small plot of ground, which extended to the railroad tracks.

In 1875, Parker purchased additional property in downtown Sylvania and built a grocery store. In 1877 and 1878, he was elected to the Sylvania Village Council.

By the 1880 census he was listed as Henry Parker, 57 years old, retail grocer, while Almyra was listed as 47 years old. The children still living in the house were: Gladys, 15 years; Mary, 12 years; and Lillian, 10 years. Also living here, listed as a boarder, was Andrew Reger, 26 years old.

The Toledo Blade dated Jan. 23, 1884, read, “At 11:30 Sunday forenoon smoke was seen issuing from the upper story of a house on Division Street, owned by J.H. Parker, and occupied by him as a dwelling house. The fire originated from the chimney in the upper story, and had gained considerable headway when discovered and, for a time, the chances were that the building must go. It was very warm work for the boys but they soon had the fire checked as water was plenty. Loss estimated at $300, and fully insured.”


This house was rebuilt following the fire in January, 1884, repairing all areas damaged by fire.

More about 5723 Main St. in the Feb. 6 issue.

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