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  • Writer's pictureTedd Long

House of Four Pillars

322 East Broadway.

Built in 1835, this home was transformed into a Greek Revival house by "itinerant column workers" in 1844. It's more than likely, the group of craftsmen traveled to Maumee to build columns for the new Lucas County Courthouse and were engaged to add four classic Doric columns to this home.

The house was built on property originally owned by the Land Speculation Co., with fractional ownership held by several investors. Initial owners of the home were well-known Maumee leaders, including John E. Hunt, an early county treasurer and member of the Ohio legislature, James M. Spafford, brother of Perrysburg's founder Amos Spafford, and Sardis Birchard, a merchant and banker, who raised U.S. president Rutherford B. Hayes and is most likely the person responsible for commissioning the four pillars that give the home its distinctive style and appearance. Arthur Henry, the Toledo Blade editor, and his wife, Maude, a pioneering woman reporter, owned the house briefly in the 1890s. During that time, a famous visitor was Theodore Dreiser, who reportedly wrote the first chapters of his controversial novel, Sister Carrie, during his stay.

During the early 20th century, the house was owned by John Ormand, a Toledo attorney and Maumee civic leader, who was instrumental in bringing the Carnegie Library to Maumee. After Ormand's death, the house sat empty for several years and fell into significant disrepair. William M. Hankins purchased the House of Four Pillars in 1941. He and his family brought the historic home back to a livable condition and began the work of restoring it. William's son Bruce, and Bruce's wife Joan, purchased the home in 1969 and continued to make improvements, including the restoration of the four pillars and porch. Frederick and Susan Collar bought the house from Bruce and Joan in 1996 and continue as stewards of this historic residence and property.

The House of Four Pillars is on the National Register of Historic Places. Based on oral histories, this home was part of the Underground Railroad. The Toledo area was a critical layover for slaves escaping to freedom before the Civil War. Our region was a direct link from Kentucky and Indiana to Michigan and Canada. Lucas and Wood counties had a robust underground railroad, mainly operated by Quakers who provided food, shelter, water, and directions to the next station.

Due to the Underground Railroad's clandestine nature, most stories weren't recorded until years after the local conductors were gone. Nonetheless, several area residences were said to be part of a local network offering shelter and aid to escaped slaves on their way to Canada from the 1830s until the end of the Civil War. In this particular case, escaping slaves made their way to this house from the Maumee River through a deep ravine that led to the basement.

READ MORE about the sale of this house in 1996 here...

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