WALBRIDGE TOWN HISTORY
Our community was originally known as "Owls Nest" to the early settlers of the 1840's. Phillip G. Loop first settled here in 1846. His son, George Loop was born in 1847. This area was part of the Great Black Swamp with friendly Native Americans traveling through the dense woods where deer, wolves, and wild turkeys were plentiful.
Early property records show that in 1836, Truman P. Handy of Cuyahoga County purchased 160 acres of land (in what is now Walbridge) known as the Warner's Addition from the federal government. This parcel of land was bounded by present day Union Street, Dixon Street, the south half of Loop Park, and Allen Street. Then President Andrew Jackson signed the deed for the sale of the land to Mr. Handy.
In 1839, Mr. Handy sold this land to the Ohio Railroad Company. The first school was built in 1850, a one-room building for grades 1-8. It was located on the east side of S. Main Street near the present site of the Walbridge Nite Club is located. The children of the Loop and Warner families were the only students to attend the school.
Levi S. Warner purchased 80 acres of the Warner's Addition in 1865, and later sold 40 acres of the addition to Samuel Dixon, in 1875. History records note that in 1873 there were six families in the area. The Stein, Taylor, Clark, Warner, Loop, and Allen families lived in log cabins and wooded areas.
Early development began with the first railroad being constructed through the village. The Toledo and Ohio River Railroad located here in 1870. Shortly thereafter a post office was granted by the government in 1871. It was then a group of local men met at the school house and renamed the Owls Nest to Walbridge, after one of the area's largest landowners, Henry Walbridge. Mr. Walbridge and his family never actually lived in present-day Walbridge, however the Walbridge family was prominent in Toledo.
Emeretta and Harriet Warner hired George Kirk to formally survey Walbridge in 1874. Two years later, in 1876, the Hocking Valley Line (now C.S.X. railroad) came to Walbridge. With the presence of the railroad a hotel was needed to house the workers and Walbridge's first hotel was known as "The Beanery". At the turn of the century, 1900, the hotel was located on the south side of Union Street, between the two sets of railroad tracks.
The early growth was cause for a new school to be built. In 1906, the community built a cement block school where the present-day site of Walbridge Elementary is. This school replaced the village's second school building which had been located on the southeast corner of Main and Union Streets. More people would arrive and travel to and from Walbridge with the arrival of the Streetcar in 1908. The line connected the town to Toledo, Fostoria, and Findlay.
Soon the community was in need of an organized government of their own. On March 25, 1913, Walbridge completed the last step to become incorporated. A.E. Kusian was elected the first Mayor of Walbridge. Elery Scott was elected the first Marshal of the village. The first council meeting was held on April 7, 1913.
Progress for Walbridge was further evident in 1919 when Perry Street was the first street to be paved in town. This was also the year the Walbridge State Bank opened. To meet the needs of the village, a municipal electric system was set up in 1920. Walbridge purchased electricity from Fremont, Ohio, where the Ballville Dam generated power. The current was carried over miles of lines to a substation where the present-day Great Eastern Shopping Center, Woodville Road, is located.
William Schier was named the first Fire Chief of Walbridge in 1921, with a salary of $10.00 annually. In 1927, the town purchased their first fire truck The pumper, a 1927 Seagraves, was delivered by on a railroad flat car from Columbus, Ohio, on March 28, 1928.
J. C. Loop became Mayor in 1930 and served until 1941, when failing health caused him to resign. Mayor Loop, who served as a township trustee in 1909, was credited with building streets and was influential in drilling of a water well in the first village-owned waterworks (the pump house in the center of Loop Park). During Mayor Loop's stewardship, eight acres of land in the Dixon addition was purchased in 1935 for a park. The village leaders appropriately named the property Loop Park. Mayor Loop died in 1942, in his home located on S. Main Street where he had resided since he was one year old. He was 87 years old, at death.
In 1932, the Walbridge State Bank was forced to close with "assets frozen" marred with legal proceedings that followed.
The Walbridge Fire Department became the Walbridge-Lake Township Fire Department in 1945, and was located where the present-day Walbridge Police Station is located. Although crime was generally regarded as low or non-existent in those days, the newspapers of the day highlighted the story of someone blowing open the safe at the town's post office on Christmas Eve, 1949. The story called the thieves professional safecrackers who used "nitro" and absconded with $1,500 in savings bonds and $100 in cash.
Youth baseball was a big part of recreation to the community. Many residents remember the 1958, Walbridge Bears team that went undefeated with a 58-0 record. The City Champions of the Toledo league was coached by Kempton Baker, Jim Kelly, and Montrose Brown.
Baseball was played at Loop Park and the Walbridge Civic Club is credited with starting a renovation plan of the park in 1962. They provided for a shelter house with restroom facilities. People enjoyed movies, Fourth of July fireworks, and winter-time ice skating at Loop Park. Ice skating was made possible when a portion of Loop Park would be flooded to make the ice for the children to enjoy.
About the same time (1961 and 1962), Walbridge completed a new $170,000.00 water improvement program thanks to a donated water main line from the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (now C.S.X.). In 1963, the village began purchasing water from the City of Toledo. The village also instituted a payroll tax in 1963, too.
The Exchange Bank opened its doors in Walbridge in 1963, as well. The bank was first located at 407 N. Main Street and remained here until January of 1967, when they moved into their present-day home at 311 N. Main Street. Another long-time institution of the community was the Aqua Terrace Swim Club which opened in 1964 after 10 area families got together and purchased five acres of property off of Parkview Drive. In April of 1994 the Village assumed ownership of the private swim club, making the beautiful pool available to everyone. Cecil Adkins, a 28-year veteran of council and original founding member of the swim club, paved the way for the Village to acquire the pool for the community.
Railway Park was constructed in 1983, and the Village Library opened in 1987. Longtime Mayor Forrest Scarberry and Councilman Greg Pasqualone were instrumental in these endeavors. At the start of the 1990's then council member Joanne Schiavone negotiated a landmark contract with the Evergreen Disposal Facility for village-wide refuse pickup. This 10-year agreement saved thousands of dollars annually, beginning in 1991.
Walbridge's neighbors to the north, the Walnut Hills Mobile Home Park, the Deluxe Mobile Home Park, and a few commercial businesses annexed to the Village in early 2000.
Former Mayor Robert Robson, oversaw the creation of Veterans Park along Main Street in the heart of the town. This is the site of the Village's annual Christmas tree, beginning in December 2001. The park is recognized as the anchor of an uptown beautification project undertaken by members of council throughout the 1990's.
View photos here
Photo Gallery #2 here
Photo Gallery #3 here