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Focus on Fostoria - Mar1906

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Published on 03/19/06 in the Fostoria Focus
From Crocker House to Victory House to ?????
By LEONARD SKONECKI
Focus Correspondent

Crocker House views - Click for picture -
The Crocker House at 133 E. South St. is for sale. The house was built by Roswell Crocker between 1855 and 1861. The home stayed in the family until 1947 when auto dealer Blaine Hummel purchased it. Nancy Rustam bought the home in 2004 and turned it into the cancer wellness center Victory House. She passed away in September 2005. The inset photo on the left shows the livingroom while the inset photo on the right shows the staircase and a stained-glass window.

A Fostoria home of great historical significance is up for sale. The house is located at 133 E. South St.
It was built around the time of the Civil War by a man named Roswell Crocker.
Though the house pre-dates Fostoria’s glass era, it has several colorful decorative stain glass windows of ornate floral design on the front, east and west sides.
That the house should have such lovely glass is no surprise. Roswell’s son Rawson formed the Crocker Glass Co.
The house has two front doors, an unusual feature. An expansive front porch stretches across the front (north) side of the house and wraps around part of the west side. Large porches hearken back to an age before air conditioning.
Two fireplaces share opposite sides of one wall in the downstairs. The mantles are made of cherry wood.
The entryway’s plate glass door is well over 7 feet high. It’s still nicely balanced and fits the door jamb perfectly. The doors all have their original hardware.
The entry way floor is oak and laid out in an intricate parquet design.
All in all it is a beautiful house and in excellent condition. Daniel Wolph, who owned the house in the 1970s and ‘80s, did much restoration work.
He researched the property and believed the house was built between 1855 and 1861.
In May 2004, Nancy Rustam purchased the property and opened Victory House. Nancy was a recovering cancer patient at the time. She envisioned Victory House as a cancer wellness center.
She planned facilities such as a whirlpool, massage tables and swimming pool. She had rooms designated for playing cards, TV watching and socializing.
She planned to use the house for lectures and seminars. She even had a bedroom for out-of-town people to stay in when they were in the area visiting family members suffering from cancer.
Sadly, Nancy had a recurrence of her cancer and passed away Sept. 19, 2005. Nancy was always pleased to give visitors a tour of the house. She was interested in the home’s history and researched it at the Kaubisch Memorial Public Library.
The Crocker family lived in the house from the time of its construction until around World War II.
John Crocker brought his family to this area in 1823, settling first in Seneca Township. A vital member of that family was his daughter Laura who caught the fancy of Charles Foster, the father of Gov. Charles Foster, and the man for whom Fostoria is named.
John Crocker died in 1854. His son Roswell Crocker was the man who put Fostoria where it is. In 1832, John Crocker and Foster sent Roswell to investigate land in this area for the location of their business, the famous “Foster Store.”
Roswell chose the area of Tiffin and Main Streets as the location for the village of Rome because it was on a sand ridge and therefore on somewhat higher ground than the surrounding land.
This was important then because the Great Black Swamp hadn’t been drained.
Likewise, Risdon, the village that united with Rome to form Fostoria in 1854, was situated on a sand ridge.
Roswell also laid out the village of Rome which was tiny — bounded by North, South, Poplar and Wood Streets. Roswell and Foster purchased a considerable chunk of land in the area from the government at $1.25 an acre.
Foster was Roswell’s brother-in-law, having married his sister, Laura.
Roswell lived into his 90s and died in 1899. His obituary said he built a sawmill at South and Main Streets, 50 feet west of his home.
Rawson Crocker, Roswell’s son, also lived in the house. Born in 1841, Rawson was educated in the Fostoria Schools. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University and the Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
At age 16, he went to work for the future Gov. Foster in the store then known as Foster and Olmsted. He started his own grocery business in 1875.
He was a principal in the Mechanics bank and served on its board of directors. He invested substantially in the Commercial Bank as well.
He was an investor in the Crouse-Tremaine plant and was instrumental in obtaining that factory for Fostoria in 1892. That accomplishment echoes today because Crouse-Tremaine is now National Electric Carbon.
On top of that, he was one of several men who started the Seneca Wire & Mfg. company and he was the company’s first president.
Rawson died New Year’s Day 1908 from a stroke of apoplexy. His wife, Lucy, continued to live in the house as did other members of the family until Blaine Hummel, who owned an auto dealership, purchased it in 1947.
The home’s historical value notwithstanding, modern home buyers might be more interested in knowing the roof and water heater are less than 10 years old; or that it has a two-car garage and a new refrigerator and dishwasher.
The house has many other attractive features.

 

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