Page Five of Our Village Walk


Dam at Mary Jane Thurstin State Park
The State Dam After 
a few Days of Rain

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 marina.

Turning back into town we find our way to Third Street.  The CIC Industrial Park is home to several industrial facilities.

The Kerr House
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 Historic Places.


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.


The Housely House
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.



Greek Revival designed home
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!

[village walk page 6]