Fostoria's Past: A Century of history in the making
On Dec. 14, 1950, Visintine Inc. of Columbus was awarded the contract for construction of the three-part Fostoria grade elimination project.
The company bid $2,575,000, which was $2,000 under the estimate given by the Ohio Department of Highways and $124,990 under the bid submitted by the same company in October.
Four men were killed instantly on Feb. 8, 1951 and a fifth man died in Fostoria City Hospital from injuries received when an unexplained explosion wrecked the metal hardening building at the Atlas Crankshaft Inc. at Union and Sycamore streets.
Killed were Eugene Newell, 24, and Charles Huffman, 47, both of Fostoria; Howard Shreve, 41, Amsden; and Floyd Ream, 37, Wayne.
Virgil Basinger, 33, Mt. Cory, a representative of the Cincinnati company that built the heat treatment equipment, died later of burns and injuries received in the explosion. Two other men were injured, but not seriously.
A private enterprise housing project, calling for the construction of 125 new dwellings in Fostoria, was announced on May 27, 1952 by Herbert Brauchla, builder of National Homes.
The new project was to be called "Circle Park" and would be located on a 27-acre plat of land, known to many Fostorians as the old J. E. Whiteman farm on the east side of Buckley Street.
Mr. Brauchla purchased the tract from the Cassidy brothers, Casper, Carl and Clarence.
Fostoria's multi-million-dollar railroad grade crossing elimination project was officially opened to traffic on Sept. 13, 1953, part of a Fostoria Jubilee Week celebration attended by 25,000 people.
Governor Frank J. Lausche presided at the dedication and was the principal speaker for a program in Foster park following the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
One of the largest and finest parades ever staged in Fostoria moved west on Lytle Street, from Columbus Avenue, to the Mid-Block underpass, north to South Street, West to Countyline, north to Fremont Street, east to Perry and Main streets to the park.
Governor Lausche, who was given credit for approving the project, said, "Any community the size of Fostoria that has the foresight and courage to burden itself with a $700,000 debt to eliminate dangerous conditions and pave the way for tremendous progress in the future, must be given all the credit."
The big event in 1954 was the Fostoria centennial observance July11-17.
A huge pageant called, "Fostoria Centurama" was performed nightly July 12-17 at Memorial Stadium. It was produced by the home-town firm, the John B. Rogers Company.
The centennial, marking the fusion of Rome and Risdon to create the city of Fostoria, also was marked by a week-long carnival in the downtown area and by many other special events.
Announcement was made on July 26, 1955 that a new manufacturing firm, to be known as the Roppe Rubber Company, would be moving into the building at 1500 N. Union Street, formerly occupied by Sears Coldspot Unit Shop.
Thony Roppe of Wapakoneta, who formerly operated a similar industry in that city, would serve as general manager of the new local firm.
Roppe said the plant would be a small operation at the beginning, employing 25 to 30 persons, but it was anticipated that it would be able to expand in the future.
1956- (More on Fostoria)
Fostoria industries, business firms and several thousand individual citizens, as well as hundreds of persons working in Fostoria, but living elsewhere, began paying one percent of their earnings to the city of Fostoria on July 1, 1956 as the result of city income tax legislation enacted by city council on May 15 of that year.
Council's seven voting members unanimously suspended the rules and passed the tax legislation as an emergency measure, thus eliminating any possibility of electors circulating a petition to bring the issue to a referendum vote.
The new tax was expected to bring the city an estimated $500,000 per year.
The constitution and by-laws of the United Community Fund of Fostoria, Inc. was adopted at a public meeting on May 13, 1957 in the Lowell Junior High School auditorium. At that meeting, 15 members were elected to the UCF board of trustees.
Duane E. Richardson, who had led the fight to organize such an umbrella fund-raising agency here, was named as the first president.
A very lively local political debate hit a climax on June 16, 1959 when voters, in a special election, rejected the city charter-city manager plan of government by a 2 to 1 margin.
The official tally showed 2,285 voters opposed to a change in the mayor-council form and 1,226 in favor of the charter-manager proposal.
Richard H. Carter, who led the drive to promote the charter plan, said the election results surprised him in his decisiveness. Obviously, we couldn't convince the people that the way we thought about city government was right.
During the course of the campaign to make Fostoria a charter city, City Councilman Richard Switzer suggested forming a new county, with Fostoria as the county seat.
A new "Foster County" was then designed by City Solicitor Fred Echelbarger to include only whole townships and included parts od Seneca, Hancock, Wood and Sandusky Counties.
Former Fostoria Mayor Hal Stout, then living in Florida, suggested that rather than slicing out a small new county, it might be wiser to combine several of the existing counties into one giant political subdivision.
Stout would have combined Seneca, Hancock, Wood and Sandusky.
Actually, a similar proposal was suggested on Aug. 18, 1920 at a meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce.