Further on is Mary Jane Thurston State Park. Originally fourteen acres, the land
for this park was given by Mary Jane Thurston. She once pastured cows near the
river. The focal point of the park is the shelter house that was built by WPA
labor during the 1930s, and the dam that was rebuilt in 1908 when the State of Ohio
intended to revitalize the canal system. The park now boasts 555 acres of land that
front 20 miles of the Maumee River. Mary Jane is a perfect place for boating,
picnicking, fishing, tent and RV camping in Summer and sledding in the Winter. Boat
launches and the park office are located at a large marina on Rt. 65 just east of Grand
Rapids. If one continued west on St. Rt. 65 they would find the second full service
Turning back into town we find our way to Third Street. The CIC Industrial Park
is home to several industrial facilities.
The Kerr House
Going east on Third Street we find a place where potatoes were once raised on the
Third and Beaver Streets hill. A striking Queen Anne brick mansion with many
sprouting chimneys is located here. Since 1980, the facility has been known as The
Kerr House, a nationally known health retreat where men and women concerned about their
health and well-being trade the pressures of the real world for periods of relaxation and
rejuvenation in a quiet, elegant setting. The house was built in the 1880s by B. F.
Kerr, a local merchant. The Kerr House is also listed on the National Register of
Continuing east on Third Street, and making a northward turn onto Mill Street and a short walk returns us to the main business
district on Front Street. Beyond the business district to the east you'll notice a
mix of architecturally significant houses on the bluff overlooking Front Street.
Most have been restored in the past few years. Using old photographs as guides,
they appear as original as they were when they were first built. The first
house on the right is a two-story Greek Revival house built around 1860. It has had
many additions added over the years including the enclosed front porch. It was
formerly the home of Dr. A. J. Gardner, one of Grand Rapids' earliest doctors, who also
operated a pharmacy-novelty store.
On the National Register
of Historic Places
Next is an Italianate residence built in 1883 by Richard Housely, a prominent
businessman, for his southern bride. It served as a private residence until the
1950s when it was converted into apartments. In the late 1990s, it was lavishly
refurbished by a private owner. The home has been placed on the National Register of
Historic Places. In back is a dazzling rose garden attended to by the owners.
The Gruber House
The third house on the right was built in 1860 and is of Greek Revival design.
It was owned by the Gruber family until 1886 when Howard Evans, a local hardware merchant
purchased the property. It has changed hands twice since, and recently underwent
historic improvements. Walking further up Front Street we find several more houses
of Greek Revival design.
If we turned right onto Wapakoneta Road we would be headed for a visit to the Seven
Eagles Historical Center which is about one mile out of town. Instead, we will wait
to turn until we get back to Bridge Street. Here we turn right and find Grand Rapids
Elementary School, the community pool, the Grand Rapids branch of the Weston Public
Library, the community ball diamonds, and Labino Park, where there are newly resurfaced
tennis an multi-purpose courts.
An easy drive a few miles east of Grand Rapids brings us to Otsego Park and the
renovated Nazareth Hall.
We hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of our Restored Canal Town. Please
tell others and plan to visit soon in person!