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Historic Toledo property going up for auction

Posted By: The Toledo Blade on June 12, 2024.  For more information, please click here to read the source article.

At the edge of the nascent Vistula neighborhood a businessman from New York state, Joseph Secor, staked his claim off North Summit Street in 1870 by building what was then a waterfront home on the Maumee River.

The public has a chance to bid on that historic building by June 20. The husband-and-wife duo at Helminiak Real Estate & Auction will close bidding at 6 p.m. that day for this gem of Toledo’s story.

Dubbed the Secor Mansion, 311 Bush St. is a reminder of a burgeoning Toledo in the last third of the 19th century before the upper class moved to the Old West End neighborhood and Summit Street became more industrialized.

“The Secors came, and they were in the wholesale grocery business,” said James Secor, 74. “It is my great-great-uncle’s mansion. … Clearly, no one I ever knew but but someone I know about.”

“And they were in the grocery business with a guy named Valentine Ketcham of the Valentine Theatre, and a guy whose last name was Berdan,” Mr. Secor said, referring to the Secor, Berdan & Co. grocery and private banking firm his ancestor was a part of.

“Joseph eventually moved, because there was a railroad track that went in along the Maumee River” that ruined the view and the access to the river, Mr. Secor said.

A now nonexistent portico faced the river, providing easy access, but the parking lot of Tollhouse and Earth Coffee is now where the front yard would have been. Wear from more than 150 years of change to the French Second Empire-style home shows. The home was slated for demolition in 1977. Toledoans John Hustwick and Carroll Ashley bought it in 1978 and renovated it, and by 1979, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places. From apartments to offices, the building has acted with versatility, surviving as best it can, even becoming a recording studio for a spell.

“When I was a kid, we would drive by the mansion, and at that time, it was a dormitory for nursing students from Riverside Hospital,” Mr. Secor said.

In 2004, the current owner bought the mansion for $97,900. It’s unclear what it had planned for the property, but as the building is zoned for commercial and/or residential use, the Secor Mansion offers a blank slate to whoever would want to buy it.

“We know it has a lot of potential with the riverfront,” said Danielle Helminiak, vice president of Helminiak Real Estate & Auction.

Part of Metroparks Toledo’s future plan is to expand the Glass City Riverwalk to the area around the Vistula neighborhood.

“You sell fine art at auction because you’re unsure of the value,” said John Carson Helminiak, president of Helminiak Real Estate & Auction. “So then we put this up for public auction because of what’s going on in the district.

“It’s a major opportunity for a riverfront property, a 10,000-square-foot riverfront property,” he said. “Obviously, when you buy it now, then you have to rehab it, so it’s going to be a bit of a discounted rate.”

Anyone who chooses to take on the project will have plenty to work with.

“The interior and exterior details are strikingly good-looking,” Mr. Secor said.

The charm of the building is in its grandiosity with 13-foot-tall ceilings, massive eight-foot-tall doorways, and old-world fixtures throughout, but without much utility left in the building, whoever buys the fixer-upper will be buying their own vision.

“I hope it will become, again, a prominent structure in a vibrant community,” Mr. Secor said. “It’s heartwarming for me to think about my family history continuing to be a part of my favorite city, Toledo.”

To find out more about the Secor Mansion, including bidding information, visit

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