Walbridge pays tribute to village's 100th year PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK /Sentinel Staff Writer   
Monday, 08 April 2013 09:00
Marlene Lehman looks at a collage of old photographs during the Walbridge Centennial celebration. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
WALBRIDGE — The town has seen it all over the last 100 years: world wars, national and local economic downturns and booms, and a great many changes to its own appearance.
Sunday, village residents and area dignitaries gathered to pay tribute to the centennial of Walbridge’s incorporation, and its very first council meeting.
“Small towns matter,” said State Senator Randy Gardner in his remarks at the event, held at VFW Post 9963 on Main Street. Having himself lived in smaller villages in Northwest Ohio, he joked that “Walbridge has always been kind of a big city to me.”
The village itself dates to 1846, when Phillip Loop and his family first settled in what would become Walbridge. It was originally called “Owl’s Nest,” and by 1873 there were six families living in the area.
Railroads, early sawmills, and barrel stave factories helped develop the village; in 1870, the Toledo and Ohio River Railroad came to town, followed by the Hocking Valley Line (now CSX) in 1874.
The first post office was erected in 1871, prompting a name change: Owl’s Nest came to be called Walbridge then, after the descendants of one of the area’s largest landowners, Henry Walbridge. Walbridge, himself a Toledo resident, never lived in the village.
On March 25, 1913, Walbridge was incorporated as a village, and on April 7, 1913, the first council meeting convened.
“One hundred years ago, we had a crowd in that little building, too,” said Darlene Limmer as she delivered a historical presentation at the event, speaking of the village’s original council building.
The event began with a special meeting of the Village Council commemorating 100 years, to the day, of the first council meeting.
“I am born and raised, pretty deeply rooted,” said Walbridge Mayor Ed Kolanko in his remarks, during which he sometimes fought back emotion. An avid jogger, he told the estimated crowd of more than 100 people that he sometimes runs through the nearby Lake Township Cemetery.
“You see a lot of names, names you recognize.”
“It’s emotional,” he added. “Time goes pretty quickly.”
Mary Jane Finch presented a framed photograph of the village’s first mayor, Adam Kusian, who served from 1913 to 1920, and from 1922 to 1924.
“Adam was very interested in getting the town incorporated,” she said. “And our family has been very involved.”
“It’s been fun growing up here.”
“It’s pride, pride in the community and the service my family has given,” she said after her remarks, speaking of what it means for the village to be celebrating its centenary. She herself served as the clerk-treasurer from 1980 to 1995, and her mother served on the Walbridge School Board.
Finch still lives on land that Adam Kusian once lived on. The property has been in her family for over a century.
“We’re still there,” she said.
Limmer, during her discussion of Walbridge history, pointed out numerous landmarks and buildings. The Walbridge Fire Department first acquired its 1927 Seagrave fire engine in 1928, and the vehicle, in excellent shape, was parked outside of the venue. The current fire station was built in 1945. The village’s first church was built in 1869 and organized in 1887 as a Union church, raised from timbers from an adjoining neighbor’s property. The church was in the hands of several different denominations and remodeled, before it became the current Grace Bible Baptist Church in 2005.
While a one-room school was present in Walbridge as early as 1850, several other schools followed. In 1922, the first dedicated high school was built. The last Walbridge High School class graduated in 1951. Finch noted that the former students still meet each year.
Last Updated on Monday, 08 April 2013 09:09

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