Pieces of Toledo’s history for sale in Fort Industry Square auction

Doors that have been removed and lined up in preparation for an online auction of items at Fort Industry Square.

If you’ve ever wanted to own true pieces of Toledo history, your opportunity is at hand, but only through mid-September.

As part of the plan to renovate the mostly empty Fort Industry Square office buildings downtown, the owners-developers have had to remove many of the doors, windows, and other fixtures in the collection of buildings at 116-152 N. Summit St.

Approximately 387 items have been gathered for an online auction conducted by Pamela Rose Auction Co. that commenced this week and runs through Sept. 13. Descriptions and photos of the items can be seen on the auction company’s website.

“This auction has got some really neat stuff in it. We’re selling the doors, some stained glass windows; there’s a lot of cast iron. There’s a bar from the (former) Boody House (restaurant). And some of the stuff is from the old Willys Overland Jeep headquarters,” Ms. Rose said.

The owners of the building, Karp & Associates Inc., of Lansing, plan to turn the building into a mixed-use residential, office, retail, and entertainment project. Much of the fixtures inside will not work with the planned rehabilitation.

The rehab is estimated at $25 million for a first phase and involves three historic buildings that have been vacant for several years. When finished, the upper floors will have 40 residential units and the lower floors will have more than 37,000 square feet of commercial space.

Karp & Associates owners Kevin Prater and Richard Karp could not be reached for comment.

The online auction was concerning to several local history buffs who believe that some significant Toledo architectural features and artifacts that had been preserved from buildings razed long ago and placed inside Fort Industry Square could be lost to out-of-town bidders.

“I don’t have a big problem with (the auction). But if some of this leaves the city, that would be sad,” said Edward Hill, special collections librarian for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

On the plus side, local history aficionado and Old West End resident Bill Frisk said Fort Industry Square’s owners had an opportunity to “just sell everything wholesale to an out-of-town antiques dealer” but didn’t.

“At least a local auction is the very best chance for the things to stay local, especially given the fact that virtually everything did originate in Toledo,” Mr. Frisk said. “There are several major things that aren’t on the list, like the lamp posts in front of the Jeep administration building.”

Fort Industry Square, so named because it was believed to sit on the site of the former Fort Industry built to defend against the British, was developed over a period of eight years from 1979 to 1987 and was a collection of 14 buildings in a block on Summit bounded by Monroe Street and Jefferson Avenues.

Some of the buildings were constructed between 1850 and 1900. One was a completely new building built in the 1980s and given an old facade — that of the former Western Shoe Co. building on St. Clair Street that was razed in 1984.

Most of the buildings in the block previously known as “Old Town” already had been gutted by 1979 when the project’s then-owners, Jeffrey Drake and Drr. Robert Hauman, acquired them to build Fort Industry Square — a block long complex of offices and specialty shops.

So the plan was to create a “living history museum” by acquiring or making antique items to furnish the insides, said Marty Kruser, a local history buff, antiques specialist, and one of the two main people charged with acquiring items to fill Fort Industry Square.

The other procurer on the project was the late entrepreneur Richard Kraemer.

“Most of those buildings, there really wasn’t much left in ‘em at all,” Mr. Kruser said. “So a lot of the stuff that was in them, when we were building it we salvaged things from all over Toledo.”

What is up for auction, “a lot of it is Toledo. There’s no doubt about it,” said Mr. Kruser.

“There’s actually some really important Toledo pieces there, especially the stuff from the Willys Overland Administration building,” he said.

The key items, however, bronze light posts from the building and an ornamental in-wall drinking fountain, are not on the auction list, although Mr. Kruser said he doesn’t even know if they are still in Fort Industry Square.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff was already gone when they started filing bankruptcy” in the 1990s, he said. “They pulled a lot of stuff out of there and sent it out West. Stuff from Walbridge Park, the Richardson Building, they just shipped it out West and I don’t know where it ended up.”

However, there are some valuables left that are now in the auction. Item No. 258 — Antique Oak Back Bar — is the last bar from the original Boody House hotel on Madison Avenue, circa 1872. It was a mecca for politicians and social climbers of the day and had the reputation of being the finest hotel between New York City and Chicago. Two presidents stayed there, as did other dignitaries, such as Williams Jennings Bryant, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Carrie Nation.

The bar was placed in Fort Industry’s Boody House restaurant, which opened and closed in the 1980s.

“The restaurant area had the last of the Boody House’s bars in there. That oak bar came out of the bar of the hotel, which had four bars originally but this was the last one remaining. We don’t know what happened to the other three,” Mr. Kruser said.

Also up for auction: A large window from the former Baumgartner House in the Old West End, mirrors from a barber shop on old Dorr Street, chandeliers from a bank building on Summit Street, and stairs and a handrail from a Victorian house on Jefferson Avenue that was torn down by Mercy Health long ago.

Other items came from the former Waldorf Hotel, the Nasby Building, the former Knights of Columbus Hall, the Madison Cafe, homes in the Old West End and Perrysburg, and a former Toledo funeral home.

Some things have no ties to Toledo. Mr. Kruser said many of the wood and beveled glass doors in the auction came from an antiques dealer in Detroit, while several Lion head sculptures were made by Mr. Kruser and others because they seemed like appropriate decor.

“The whole setup was it was supposed to be a quasi-museum of Toledo stuff, and it was,” Mr. Kruser said. “I bought stuff like crazy. Of course, it was a lot easier to do back then than it is now.”

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