Toledo blueprints, sketches sold off

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Michelle Nau, with the Pamela Rose Auction Company, spreads out blueprints for the grandstand at Swayne Field, the former home of the Toledo Mud Hens. THE BLADE/KURT STEISS

Almost four weeks after Pamela Rose Auction Co. discovered more than 200 sketches and blueprints of some of the Toledo area’s most historic buildings, the collection was auctioned off Tuesday evening in Rossford.

More than 70 people attended the auction, which took place at the home where the sketches were found in the Eagle Point Colony. In all, the auctioneers sold about 600 lots, including collectibles, antique furniture, and the Eagle Point property, not to mention the 215 sketches.

“We lucked out with just wonderful weather, a nice atmosphere, and a great crowd that understood how important these blueprints are to the Toledo area,” said Michelle Nau, an apprentice auctioneer at Pamela Rose Auction Co.

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Dating back to as early as 1907, the tracings are the work of architect George B. Rheinfrank, who designed hundreds of Toledo-area buildings and homes during the first half of the 20th century. The collection features plans for the Plaza Hotel, the Jay K. Secor House, and Swayne Field, home of the Mud Hens from 1909-1955.

Mr. Rheinfrank also designed dozens of houses and mansions in the Old West End, Eagle Point Colony, and Perrysburg, including the one where the papers were found.

Of the 215 sketches, 186 went to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. The library hopes to preserve Mr. Rheinfrank’s work and show it to the public, said Special Collection Librarian Edward Hill, who attended the auction on the library’s behalf.

“We’re always looking for more blueprints,” he said. “You know, an architect who was really sort of in his heyday was in the 1920s, ’30s, retired by 1950 — to see … a substantial grouping of a couple hundred drawings become available is a rare opportunity to add to our collection.”

Even after speaking with a Lucas County assistant prosecutor who offers legal advice to the library, Mr. Hill declined to say how much he paid for the sketches, citing concern that his superiors had not given him explicit permission to disclose that information. The library is a public agency and thus legally obligated to disclose its spending of public funds.

Both the library’s director, Clyde Scoles, and library spokesman, Ben Malczewski, did not return calls seeking the amount paid.

Mr. Hill stressed that he spent only a fraction of the winning bids on the most valuable sketches, which sold for as much as $500. Because he was working with public money, he said, he had to spend more conservatively.

Soon, the library will begin organizing the sketches for a public exhibition.

“Part of the reason we have this is a lot of people come here looking for floor plans of their house, history of their house,” Mr. Hill said. “So by having them here it makes sort of like one-stop shopping for that type of thing. … Here, they’re protected, they’re safe, anyone can come down.”

The Mud Hens, meanwhile, purchased the Swayne Field blueprints with a winning bid of $275. Mud Hens Historian John Husman said the team plans to digitize and copy the blueprints, which he called “pieces of Toledo baseball history.”

Beyond that, the team does not yet have any definite plans. But one possibility, Mr. Husman said, is to display copies of the blueprints in the stadium.

“We’ll make sure that people get to see them,” he said. “We didn’t buy them to hoard them.”

Contact Jacob Stern at: jstern@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.

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