Old site stirs new concerns


PERRYSBURG – Neighbors of the Historic Spafford Homestead have questions about new plans for the old
house, built by the town founder’s son in the early 19th century.
More than 30 people attended a public hearing Monday, where residents of the Rivercrest Development
Homeowners Association and representatives from the Perrysburg Area Historic Museum debated the
consequences of a zoning change for the historic site – located at 27338 W. River Road, just west of
Fort Meigs Road. About 100 homes in the adjacent neighborhood back up to the .75-acre Single Family
Residential house.
The city’s Planning Commission is recommending that council approve a zoning amendment to Institutional
for the purpose of a historical museum complex.
Doug Fatica, 1521 Rivercrest Drive, said residents in his neighborhood thought plans for transforming the
home into a museum "didn’t sound too terribly bad" at first. But during the last 20 years, he
said, the property has been under constant construction and now contains a number of aesthetically
displeasing items.
He also expressed concern about the historic museum’s plans to add onto the structure, as well as the
impact of tourist traffic in the area. He asked council to consider the entire scope of the project
before coming to a decision.
The entire approval process – before the historic museum could potentially be issued a zoning permit –
could take as long as four or five months and would include no less than seven meetings, said Rick
Thielen, planning and zoning administrator. If council approves the zoning change at its July 7 meeting,
several more public meetings will remain before the historic museum ultimately will be allowed to begin
work at the site. Among those remaining steps, approval will be needed: for a site plan; a request for
special approval use; a final site plan; as well as for satisfaction of the zoning board of appeals and
the Historic Landmarks Commission.
Andy Black, 1499 Rivercrest Drive, who delivered a presentation on behalf of the neighborhood homeowner’s
association, said the area’s residents supported the city’s historic assets but wanted to make sure that
they had a voice in decisions that would affect their home values.
"We’re for history … history is Perrysburg," he said. "That is the hallmark of this
He said the neighborhood would support plans for projects that would be visually pleasing and that could
involve the community, such as a garden area.
However, he told council members that the homeowners harbored some apprehension about loose artifacts
scattered around the property – "rusty things coming in" that might create a
"junkyard" environment. His PowerPoint presentation contained several photos of nuisance
animals on the property as well as old equipment that can be seen from adjacent backyards.
"If you want to be a collector, we’re not interested," he said.
He also asked council members to consider the available parking area, which he said might only hold about
30 cars.
"Rivercrest is very interested in having a voice in our own backyards," Black said.
Kate McPherson, of McPherson Architects in Toledo, spoke for the historic museum during another
presentation – in which she asked the homeowners to consider the relatively small project scope in the
context of other similar but larger projects that have enhanced the surrounding area.
A Perrysburg resident with decades of architectural experience involving national historic landmark
sites, McPherson said the Spafford home ranks "right up there" with other notable historic
She also acknowledged that residents have had to endure some difficulty during the last few years with
"work in progress" at the historic site. "But what we have here is really unique."

The 1823 Greek Revival dwelling was added to the Secretary of the Interior’s National Historic
registration in 1974 and was included in the city’s historic district in 1991. The city approved a
$10,000 donation in April toward development costs for a Perrysburg Historic Museum.
"The proposed master plan at this point is really pretty simple," McPherson said.
The proposed museum site would include the house itself, the existing U-shaped driveway, a barn, a
potential period restoration of a former wing, and the existing gravel area will provide more parking.
There would also be a green space with a garden, and a log cabin has been proposed.
"Really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really pretty small."
She said vegetation and existing structures would provide privacy for the nearby homes and that a high
volume or tourism was not expected.
Still, the museum applicants would like to tie Fort Meigs tourism to the Spafford house because "the
two compliment each other so nicely."
She said a sidewalk could link the two properties, and buses could drop tourists off at the Spafford home
and then park at Fort Meigs.
McPherson pointed to the 577 Foundation and The Wolcott House Museum Complex as examples of similar
historic projects that are surrounded by neighborhoods.
All neighbors in the area will be involved in the museum’s plans throughout the process, she said.
"This is your backyard, and our goal is to help you improve your values."
Judy Justus, president of the historic museum, said the complete project would not resemble the present
"mess" at the site now and that equipment on the property will be relocated.
"We really hope to build a beautiful edifice for you," Justus said.

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