When I was born in 1981 we lived just outside of the Old West End, at 2426 Hollywood. That home still stands, one of a few on a formerly condemned street that has as many empty lots as it does homes.
I lived there until my family moved to Sylvania for my first grade year, but I have many memories of my short time there. I remember helping to build a doghouse for my first dog (RIP Shannon) with old wood scraps. I remember people putting sugar in my father's gas tank more than once. I remember a house caddy-corner from us on fire one evening (my parents insist this memory is false, so I guess I will chalk this up to a bad dream). I remember being dared to throw a piece of concrete through the windshield of a parked car by a neighborhood friend - I accepted and won that dare, though my ass paid for it later six or seven times over.
I remember walking with a friend my age and his older cousins to a nearby playground, not the one at Macelwane Park which was down the street, but a smaller one - it had a metal slide, a small merry-go-round, and was apparently too far away for my five year old butt to go alone; I ended up rendering another ass whooping unto Caesar.
I tried to buy that house a few years back - it was listed for just $3,000 or so, and while I knew it would be a complete waste of money, I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to own the house I was born in. Upon calling the realtor I learned it had already sold. Probably a good thing; Dave Ramsey would have disapproved of that real estate venture, I think.
I mention these things because while Hollywood is just outside of the OWE, I have always had a great fascination for the neighborhood and its beautiful architecture. I didn't realize how good the community was as a whole till I was an adult and moved back post 9/11 after my stint in the US Navy. After rooming with some buddies in a house in West Toledo I decided to get out on my own and settled in at 708 W. Bancroft, those pretty brick apartments surrounded by the big hedge at the corner of Bancroft and Robinwood. Known as the Phil Manor Apartments, this little community of 15 apartments was my home for the next three years and served as a base from which I explored much of the OWE on foot, going for jogs around the neighborhood solo or with my dog, Loja.
I have always had a deep-seated respect for the homes and architecture within the OWE. You simply don't find this quality of craftsmanship in today's buildings, even ones that do their best to emulate these stately homes. As an adult I now work with the Toledo Fire Department and have been fortunate enough to secure an assignment to Station 7, which is at the corner of Bancroft and Franklin and proudly carries "Toledo's Old West End" on its emblem. There isn't a single shift that doesn't find me driving through and around portions of the Old West End, and I am always glad to do some curb-side admiring of this special collection of homes.
All of this is just a long-winded segue into the purpose of this story. I was recently allowed to spend an hour walking around, photographing and appreciating the beauty and charm of the Ford Mansion, at the corner of Collingwood and Bancroft.
Chuck and Finley are family friends of my wife's, and bought this home about a year ago with the goal of restoring it to its original glory. So far they are doing an exceptional job; while I am no architect or construction foreman, it is clear to even my layman's eyes that they are doing their utmost to rebuild this home with its original character intact.
I will spare you from any more flowery adjectives (for now) and let the pictures do the talking.
I shot this home with just the available natural lighting and a few of their main chandeliers and lighting fixtures turned on. The professional in me apologizes for some of the blown highlights; it was a very sunny day outside and I didn't have my lighting setup to counteract the cloudless sky and piercing sun.
Many of you who understand or have knowledge of home restoration will understand that this beautiful mansion is a work in progress; for those who are unfamiliar, there is a method to the madness! (I am thinking of the insulation being pulled out from the ceiling of the third floor ballroom).
The home with the blue tarp that you can see out of the stairwell picture window image is the Knight House and is also undergoing renovation by Chuck and Finley; I look forward to photographing that home as well, when it can handle some foot traffic.
I hope you enjoyed these images and seeing the work that is being done here. I look forward to another shoot when they have their kitchen in place - it's going to be amazing!
Special thanks to Chuck and Finley for allowing me access to their home and trusting me to to capture and showcase it in a manner that pays tribute to its architectural craftsmanship and beauty.
Photo credit for the images of 2426 Hollywood and the Phil Manor Apartments to the AREIS website.
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