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MEN RESTORE OLD ARMORY FOR YEARS MORE USE
August 9, 1979



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PIX #1 - Paul Cox, left, and Orrin H. Hammer who are repairing the armory.

PIX #2 - The Armory today

PIX #3 - The old Armory had a turret at the top, but it was removed when the armory entered a state of disrepair.

The building at the corner of McDougal and Poplar streets, known to Fostorians as the old Armory, didn't go the way of many old landmarks... demolition...thanks to the efforts of two men who "cared", and were willing to undertake restoration.

The Armory, built in the early 1890's and dedicated March 15, 1893, served many other purposes in the years after Company D 16th Regiment, Ohio National Guard, no longer headquartered in it.

In recent years, the building, owned by William B. Kissel, 804 Maple St., stood vacant, virtually a derelict, due to vacancy and vandalism.

Then in 1977, the Fostoria Area Historical Society considered taking over the building as its headquarters. Orrin H. Hammer, 1005 W. Tiffin St., and Paul Cox, 9775 Bradner Rd., Risingsun, both trustees of the Society at the time, purchased the building from Kissel with intention of restoring and turning it over to the Society later. The Society changed its mind, but Hammer and Cox proceeded with the restoration.

Now, two years since restoration started, the building is nearing completion. ..at least up to a point, but not including dinishing touches. It is in sound shape, according to the owners, and is ready to serve someone as it heads toward its 100th birthday in 1993.

RESTORATION WORK ACCIDENTLY DISCOVERED

By chance your Potluck editor discovered something going on around the building some weeks ago. Having lived in that area, and having an interest in the old building, I stopped to investigate.

It was then that I found Hammer and Cox, both whom I knew, hard at work on the restoration program. They took me on a tour and divulged the immensity of the project. Needless to say it was more than they anticipated; new roof trusses and new roof; parts of the brick walls torn down and relayed; floors repaired; window-work, etc. However, at this point, the windows will still be boarded up in case of vandalism, until someone takes over the building.

Fortunately, Hammer had been in construction work, and Cox was a former dairyman and sort of a handyman, so they have done all the work...even to the building of the new roof trusses, roofing, etc. "We would not have been able to restore the building if we hadn't done the work ourselves:, they said. "The cost would have been prohibitive".

Neither Cox nor Hammer are young men, so when they did the roof work, they used safety ropes to keep them from falling. "After all, I'm 83", said Hammer. Even so, both sustained some falls and minor injuries during the restoration program.

Now that restoration is neearly completed, they are looking for a buyer, to give the old building "tender loving care", for some more useful years.

It must have been a great day in Fostoria back in 1893 when the Armory was dedicated, judging from the story that appeared in The Fostoria Daily Review, and reprinted in the 1954 Centennial edition.

Gov. McKinley, accompanied by his military staff was present, as was Charles Foster, Secretary of the then prominent state and area officials; one of them being General W.H. Gibson from Tiffin.

The Armory was appropriately decorated and five long tables, extending from one end of the main floor to the other, seated more than 300 people for the banquet, prepared by Fostorian John Ulrich of the Ideal Restaurant.

The Armory was formally presented to Company D, known as The Light Guards, by Nicholas Burtscher, commissioner, and accepted by Lt. Bert Jones.

Others on the program were Gov. McKinley, Maj. E.B. King, the Hon. Charles Foster, Adj. Gen. J.C. Howe, Col. H.S. Hunker, and Ge. W.H. Gibson

A ball was held during the evening hours.

ARMORY SERVED OTHER

The Armory ceased to be used by Company D toward the end of the 1890's or early in 1900. Evidently, the operation and maintenance of the building cost more than the government would allow, so it was abandoned. A listing for it in the 1898 directory indicated it was still used by Company D, but later directories showed their headquarters at 116 1/2 W. North St.

Sometime later the building wa used as a roller skating rink. I remember my Aunt Ida Hayden telling that she skated there and won a pair of gold-plated skates for her talent.

When Company D abandoned the Armory, Seneca County Commissioners sold it to G.G. Grimes, published of The Fostoria Daily Times. Apparently Grimes had trouble making payments for the building, and a second mortgage was extended to Mechanics Banking Co. and Henry Waller. The Times moved from the building when Roscoe Carle became owner in approximately 1902, at which time it located in the Times Square building at corner of Main and Perry.

At sheriff's sale in 1909, the building was sold to Madeline "Maude" Pelton, a popular Fostorian then.

The Deisel-Wemmer Co., manufacturers of cigars occupied the building, but directories fail to show a listing there. However, the name Deisel-Wemmer can still be faintly seen, painted on the building, and having lived near there, I remember the cigar factory, and the strong smell of tobacco when passing by as a boy. Evidently the cigar factory was not there very long, because city directories show them on South Main, where Simmons Decorating is now.

The A.H. Jackson Mfg. Co., manufacturer of underwear, leased the building in 1910. Later they moved to the building at corner of North and Potter streets where Gold Bond Furniture is now.

Don Burke had a tire store and repair shop in the building in later years.

Mrs. Pelton sold the building to Fred T. Fuge in 1946, who in turn sold it to Brice Kissel in 1955, where he continued his roofing and sheet metal business until his death in 1967, when his son W.B. Kissel inherited the building. In 1947, Fostoria Trailer Mfg. Co. occupied the building for a while.

From that time the building was used for warehouseing, and also housed a car repair shop, but eventually stood vacant for years.

DON'T DESTROY... SALVAGE AND RESTORE

While many towns and cities have adopted programs for salvage and restoration of old landmark buildings, there stood the the odl Armory, believing that whoever purchases it may make some other alterations and put the finishing touches to suit them.

Congratulations to Cox and Hammer for saving an old landmark.

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