PERRYSBURG — A love of hometown and collecting the photos of its past has led to a new and unusual visual history book about the changes Perrysburg has undergone since its original 1816 boundaries.
Local history buffs Mark Weber and Gary Franks self-published “Perrysburg: Then and Now: A pictorial look at the past and present of Perrysburg” earlier this year and it has now gone into its second printing.
The book includes photos from both authors’ personal collections, with shots going back to 1865. Prior history is included with art and information going back to when Perrysburg was a small 1816 village.
The changes are highlighted in new photos taken from the same angle of the old photos, some a hundred or more years apart.
For example, on page 149, the O-Deer Diner is shown side by side with the garage it originally started as.
It was his sister’s old yearbook that gave Weber the idea.
“I was leafing through the old Perrysburg High School yearbooks and I was coming across all these old businesses that used to be uptown here and I thought, ‘What do they look like today?’ So I actually took the yearbook uptown with me. There’s that building. There’s that building. It was really cool,” Weber said.
He followed that up with hours in the Way Public Library Local History Collection, scanning and taking pictures of their photos. He started putting his growing collection on social media and caught the attention of Franks.
Now they can’t keep the book in stock. It’s being purchased by new and long-time Perrysburg residents who want to take a walk down memory lane.
While they have made attempts to duplicate the historic photos with a current shot from the same perspective, sometimes they don’t have to. With several shots they have found old photos from when other people did the same thing in the past, making for several shots through time, in what Weber calls his “Back to the Future” photos.
The book has more than 3,500 photos. Franks and Weber said they have at least that many not in the book, and could easily fill another one. With the second printing, they have added occasional details, as friends and family have given them names of people that are in some of the shots.
Weber is a life-long resident of Perrysburg and Franks has lived in the city since 1969.
Weber began the idea for the book when he started getting involved with the city in 2016, which also led him to meeting Franks.
“That’s what got me going on this story. I was a collector of photos for many years before that, but never really did anything with them, except admire them,” Weber said.
He started sharing them on his Facebook page and that started drawing people’s attention.
“I really had fun sharing them with people and that’s what really got me noticed,” Weber said. “That’s also why the bicentennial committee asked me to do that project for them. That morphed into me thinking that I wanted to get more involved in my community.”
Work on a visual timeline of Perrysburg for the bicentennial committee turned into his interest in city council.
“Meeting the great people, that volunteer so much time to the community, I just wanted to be part of that. It is just so much fun. Nobody who looks at this book looks at is as competition for their books. They welcomed me as a compliment to their books,” Weber said.
Franks has seven other local history books, which are completely different in style and content.
Franks was able to contribute more than just content. The pair used Franks’ past publisher and Weber gives him a lot of credit for the editing, proofing and doing the layout and design.
Weber also gives Franks the credit for pushing him to get the book finished.
Weber said the book was about half finished when he started getting involved in city council in 2019. He was appointed to the Haraz Ghanbari’s seat, when Ghanbari was appointed to the Ohio House of Representatives. Weber was twice appointed and then elected to the seat. In between serving those terms, he kept coming back to the book, but his personal Odyssey needed Franks’ helping hands to make it to the finish line.
Weber is a retired electrician. Franks is an engineer, who retired from SSOE.
The book is $25 and $5 from each copy sold is donated to the Perrysburg Area Historic Museum. So far, the two have each donated $2,500. It is available for purchase under the “More” tab at www.PerrysburgMuseum.com and regularly for sale at community events around town.