November 2006 Issue
Community spirit pervades this Toldeo suburb.
Pretty houses and fine lawns ... boys playing tag about the street, and girls [going by] in companies laughing and talking. ... Although Theodore Dreiser based his renowned novel, Sister Carrie, in Chicago, he could have had scenes of Maumee in mind when he wrote those lines in 1899. The celebrated writer had summered in Maumee before finishing his book about a young woman leaving small-town America to seek her fortune.
Today, the Greek Revival dwelling Dreiser stayed in, named the House of Four Pillars (which dates to 1836), is just one majestic testament to this river town's storied history. Other respected relics range from the Federal-style James Wolcott House, circa 1827, now a museum filled with period antiques celebrating the life of the judge who lived there, to the Maumee Indoor Theater, a 1946 art deco masterpiece which has been resplendently restored into a second-run movie house, live-theater venue and meeting facility.
But there's more to Maumee than bricks and mortar.
Community spirit is the driving force here every day, and not just in May, when residents young and old turn out on the town square in front of the war memorial with its eternal flame, or during the annual holiday lights parade and 5K run, when city administrator John Jezak plays Santa and St. Luke's Hospital President Jack Bartell rides atop a float made from an infirmary bed which has been transformed into a sleigh.
Civic pride also permeates Rolf Park, where Maumee congregates to root for the city's 10 softball leagues, as well as in the high school's 800-seat performing arts center, which made its debut to much pomp and circumstance in 2005 with, quite fittingly, "The Sound of Music."
"For many of us, this has always been home," explains Mayor Tim Wagener, who was born and raised here. "Maumee is one big neighborhood, well-loved and well cared for."
But that doesn't mean the welcome mat isn't rolled out for newcomers, including those in the business sector: The cozy Georgette's Grounds and Gifts opened last year to provide meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. (A friendly smile and warm greeting accompany every cup of fair-trade coffee poured.) Arrowhead Park is home to more than 250 firms and 14,000 employees, due in part to the city's job creation and retention grant program, offering monetary thank-you's to firms fulfilling that mission.
Dan Jankowski, 57, has witnessed the "all for one and one for all" attitude that's clearly the heart and soul of Maumee. In March, the former chief of the town's paramedic bureau suffered a stroke that paralyzed his left side. More than $10,000 in cash was collected during a fund-raiser at one of the town's favorite watering holes. Proceeds are helping to pay the costs of renovating his home into one that's wheelchair-friendly. Many of Jankowski's former comrades have also donated materials and time to get the job done, which includes installing a downstairs bathroom and bedroom, and building an outdoor ramp that provides easy access to the house.
"The support my family and I have received is overwhelming," says a grateful Jankowski.
Adds Mayor Wagener, "When one of us hurts, we all hurt."
Year founded: 1838
Location: 9 miles southwest of downtown Toledo
Size: 10.54 square miles
Type of government: Mayor/seven-member city council
January: Maumee Valley Historical Society Antique Show and Sale
May: Native American Heritage Celebration at Wolcott Museum Complex
June: Summer Solstice at Fallen Timbers Monument
August: Taste of Maumee features a Summer Fair Parade and signature dishes from local restaurants
September: Music in Motion concert featuring a high-school band competition
October: Historic Home Tour
November: Holiday Lights Parade
For more information, call the Maumee Chamber of Commerce, 419/893-5805 or visit maumeechamber.com.
Two-Day Visit Itinerary
This northwest Ohio river town and its surrounding environs offer a relaxing getaway with plenty to see and do year-round. To make a night and next day of it, Maumee has a variety of top-notch hotels to choose from, including the Hampton Inn Toledo-South/Maumee. The 126-room hotel features a fitness center, indoor pool and whirlpool. (1409 Reynolds Rd., 419/893-1004)
Begin your trip at Fallen Timbers Battleground. One of four major engagements during the "Indian Wars" period of 1790-1795, the Battle of Fallen Timbers is regarded as one of the most significant U.S. military actions in the period between the Revolution and the War of 1812. It was here in August 1794 that General Anthony Wayne fought to secure Ohio and the Northwest Territory for United States settlement. Now a place of peace, the site contains a monument memorializing the battle and its combatants, General Anthony Wayne, the American Indians and the Kentucky militia. (Jerome Road exit off U.S. Rte. 24, north to Fallen Timbers Lane, turn left, www.fallentimbersbattlefield.com)
Lunch at Georgette's Grounds & Gifts offers a varied menu of salads (we recommend the Sweet Georgette, a delectable mixture of greens, Monterey Jack cheese, dried cranberries, sliced apples and pecans), made-to-order sandwiches and soups. Georgette's also features organic coffee and a Ten Thousand Villages gift shop filled with jewelry, art, foods and coffee supporting fair-trade practices in developing countries. (311 Conant St., 419/891-8888, www.georgettes.org.)
Spend the afternoon exploring the Wolcott House Museum Complex, containing seven 19th-century buildings, including a 14-room Federal-style mansion built between 1827 and 1836; a saltbox farmhouse dating to 1841; an 1850 log home; 1880 railroad station with box car and caboose; and a 1901 Gothic-style country church (1031 River Rd., 419/893-9602)
No trip to Maumee would be complete without dinner at Gianno's at the Inn. Located in the town's historic Commercial Building, which dates to 1836 and was once an inn along the main stagecoach route between Detroit and Fort Wayne, the restaurant features a variety of Italian dishes, including lasagna, chicken marsala and pizza. (301 River Rd., 419/893-8337)
Take in a show at the Maumee Indoor Theater. First opened in 1946 as a movie house, the theater has been restored to its art deco splendor and serves as movie theater and venue for live performances and special events. (601 Conant St., movie hotline: 419/897-8901, www.maumeeindoortheater.com)
After breakfast at the Hampton Inn, it's time to explore the cities surrounding Maumee. The Butterfly House, located in nearby Whitehouse, offers the chance to see more than 500 free-flying butterflies in a controlled greenhouse setting. Visitors can learn about the life cycles of various species, what their natural habitat is like and how to provide a healthy environment for them. The Butterfly House sponsors a variety of events including a monarch egg hunt on the grounds and a monarch release program in August. (11455 Obee Rd., Whitehouse, 419/877-2733. www.butterfly-house.com.)
Brush up on your Ohio history at the Fort Meigs State Memorial in Perrysburg, which was built in 1813 to defend the Ohio country against British invasion and boasts the largest wooden walled fortification in North America. Today the fort stands restored in its original location in a 65-acre park. Visitors can tour the fort, which includes seven blockhouses, five cannon batteries and numerous interior 8-foot-high earthworks. The special-event calendar includes workshops, conferences and reenactments. (29100 W. River Rd., Perrysburg, 800/283-8916. www.fortmeigs.org. Open April 1-October 31: Wed.-Sat. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 12-5 p.m.)
Before heading home, stop for lunch at Mancy's Bluewater Grille, specializing in fresh seafood from coastal waters around the world. The menu includes Blue Point Oysters, a Long Island favorite; American Red Snapper from the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Superior Whitefish. Pan seared ahi tuna, oven-roasted Alaskan halibut, and pretzel-crusted Florida grouper are temptations not to be missed. (461 West Dussel Dr., 419/724-BLUE, www.mancys.com.)
- The National Arbor Day Foundation designated Maumee as Tree City USA. City crews plant more than 300 trees throughout the city every year.
- Dick Kazmaier, an All-America football player at Princeton University and the 1951 Heisman Trophy winner, graduated from Maumee High School.
- For a time in the mid-1800s, Maumee was one of the most successful and fastest growing cities in Ohio. The opening of the Wabash and Erie Canal in 1840 stimulated the economy to such a degree that Maumee was predicted to become the "great city of the West." It was chosen as the county seat in 1840, but when larger ships began using Lake Erie instead of the Maumee River, Toledo took over as the local economic power.
- Turkey Foot Rock is a historic landmark in Maumee where, legend has it, Chief Little Turtle of the Miami engaged in combat with General "Mad" Anthony Wayne and was shot and killed while standing on the rock. For many years afterward, Indians passing through the area would stop and burn sacred tobacco on the site in tribute to Little Turtle's bravery. Many of the mourners carved inscriptions in the limestone boulder that can still be seen today.
- According to legend, a tunnel leading from the Maumee River to the cellar of Gianno's at the Inn was used as a stopping point for the Underground Railroad.