By Dan Smith | Aug 20, 2019
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Wildwood Metropark hosts well over a million visitors every year, with most going for a jog or taking the kids out to play… yet this Georgian Colonial home will prove a highlight for any history buff. Enter the Wildwood Manor House.
“This house was built by Robert and Paige Stranahan,” explains Manor House coordinator Trevor Walsh. “Robert and his brother Frank were the co-founders of Champion Spark Plug.”
The company started in 1910, and just two years later, 3 of every 4 American cars had their product installed. Signing a 50-year contract with Ford Motor Company brought in plenty of money for the family during the Roaring 20s, but the next decade would see the brothers switch from profit to philanthropy. In the height of the Great Depression, the Stranahans employed over a hundred workers to help build the manor.
Walsh rattled off some staggering statistics: “The house itself is 32,000 square feet. There are 17 bathrooms, 16 fireplaces and 15 primary bedrooms.”
Most of those rooms have their original artwork and chandeliers. There are far too many to highlight here, but a few spots worth mentioning include the tap room and firing range downstairs with original tin targets, the dining room with a 200-year-old French fresco serving as its wallpaper, and even an Otis elevator to traverse all 4 stories of the manor. It’s hard to believe that all of this was nearly lost after the Stranahans passed.
“The house sat empty from 1968 to 1974,” explains Walsh, “until it was put on the ballot for Lucas County voters to actually purchase the property for Metroparks.”
The door-to-door campaign gained just enough support among voters to save the estate.
Today, the Manor House hosts a variety of events both seasonal and occasional. During last year’s 12 days of Christmas, they hosted over 38,000 visitors.
Baby showers, bridal showers, even weddings and birthday parties have taken place within these walls. Walsh recalls he’s done “a birthday party for a 100-year-old woman, and even a birthday party for a dog… that was very interesting.”
For those looking for a more casual outing, free tours are offered throughout the year, offering a glimpse back at over 80 years of Toledo history. For more information, visit the Toledo Metroparks website.