The Historic Old West End neighborhood in Toledo is one of Ohio’s best-kept secrets. This 25-block radius is considered the largest collection of Victorian, Edwardian and Arts and Crafts style homes east of the Mississippi. If you are an architecture fan or history buff, add the Old West End to your list of places to visit. There are many historic districts throughout the US, but what makes this neighborhood in particular so unique is the eclectic grouping of architectural styles. In many historic districts across the country, you will see only one to two architectural styles in one neighborhood.
In the late 1800s, Toledo, Ohio was a very desirable location for business owners because of the abundance of natural resources and access to transportation routes. In 1888, Edward Drummond Libbey moved his glass company from Boston to Toledo where it employed thousands of Toledoans and destined Toledo to become the “Glass City.” If you look at the glass products in your home, there is a high likelihood that one of those products was made by the Libbey Glass Company. Around that same time, many of Toledo’s wealthiest and influential citizens began migrating to the Old West End neighborhood, including the Libbey family.
In 1895, Edward and Florence Libbey built a beautiful Colonial Revival Style mansion in the heart of the neighborhood. Across the street from their home, they founded the Toledo Museum Art which continues to be one of Toledo’s greatest treasures. The museum is internationally known for its impressive collection that houses over 30,000 objects. The generous endowments made by the Libbey family have allowed the museum to remain open to the public, free of charge. On the other end of the neighborhood and up one of the main streets, you can enjoy beautifully built churches, including Rosary Cathedral. The Cathedral is another wonderful piece of architecture that draws crowds to the historic Old West End.
The Old West End neighborhood officially became a historic district in the 1970s and many of the homes have been preserved and restored. Walking down the street in the Old West End today, you will see dozens of homes built over 100 years ago with the original architecture preserved. For example, the carriage house of one prominent neighborhood home remains intact with the original horse stalls. Inside these homes, you can admire the intricate woodwork, antique fixtures and even a few original bathrooms that include unique features like needlepoint showers and foot tubs.
Today the Old West End community is filled with people who are as passionate about preserving history as they are about preserving the true meaning of a neighborhood. How many neighborhoods do you know that have its own coloring book?! I spoke with a number of homeowners in the community and they all agree that the best part of the neighborhood is the people within it. Many of the historic homes in this neighborhood boast impressive front porches and the residents make sure to get good use out of them. Multiple residents mentioned the porch parties and porch crawls that occur during the warmer months that contribute to the close-knit community they have built.
Dave Kosmina, a resident in the Old West End and the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission describes the neighborhood as a giant melting pot. The neighborhood prides itself on inclusion where everyone is welcome and cultural diversity is their biggest strength. This is what makes the neighborhood truly special.
The best part about the Historic Old West End neighborhood is that they love to share it with others! The neighborhood association is extremely active in the community and draws many volunteers to put on special events throughout the year. The biggest and most anticipated event every year is the Old West End Festival. The festival is held on the first weekend of June and is put on with the help of over 700 volunteers. This huge event includes a parade, local vendors, kids activities and historic home tours. In the summertime, the association coordinates a garden tour to showcase many of the impressive gardens at these historic homes. During the Christmas season, the neighborhood opens up its doors for visitors to tour these beautiful homes decorated for the holidays.
If this article has convinced you to visit this amazing neighborhood, consider attending the Old West End Festival this year that will be held on June 6th and 7th. To learn more about the beautiful homes for sale in the historic Old West End neighborhood, contact me today.