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Published: Wednesday, 10/29/2003

Lathrop House has rich history

The Lathrop House is one of the most important historic structures in the region. Eastern Michigan University's Historic Preservation Program last year uncovered a wealth of information about many buildings in the city, including the Lathrop House. Its early construction dates from 1835 and is supported by hand-hewn logs pegged together. The house is associated with many founding and prominent families of Sylvania, including the Briggs, Lathrop, Crandall, and Fallis families, among others.

It is the Lathrop Family, and its connection to the Underground Railroad (UGRR), that is the most compelling. The Lathrops' history of anti-slavery sentiment dates back to the 1600s in New England, a heritage sustained by Lucian Lathrop, the builder of the two-story portion of this house. Mr. Lathrop was involved heavily in abolitionist activities in northwest Ohio, serving as a delegate to the Free Soil Party and the Democratic Convention of 1850, whose platforms were strongly anti-slavery.

That Sylvania was a stop on the UGRR is well documented by several reliable sources, but most significantly by scholar Wilbur Siebert in both of his books (1898, 1951) on the UGRR.

Many independent sources corroborate the Lathrop family's connection to the UGRR, such as Sylvania historian Maynard Cosgrove's 1933 centennial history. Most persuasive is a 1939 Quarterly Bulletin of the Historical Society of Northwest Ohio issue that mentions the Lathrop House and notes that “when the house was remodeled, a concealed room in its cellar (formerly reached by an outside stairway), was discovered, with the beds still in it, where the slaves were hidden until an opportune time came for sending them on to the next station.”

Several recent personal accounts also document the house's role in the UGRR, including living descendants of the Harroun family.

Many local citizens as well as our Metroparks system, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Heritage Ohio, and the Ohio Preservation Alliance urge saving the Lathrop House on its original site.

TED LIGIBEL

Director

Historic Preservation Program

Eastern Michigan University

Sylvania City Council wants to put our money where their mouth is. Parents send their kids to Sylvania St. Joseph because they find sufficient value in the disciplined, Christ-centered education to offset the cost and the forfeiture of the public school educations (at superior facilities) that their taxes have already paid for. They fund hundreds of tuitions for less fortunate kids in the Toledo Diocese and they have pledged more than $4 million to St. Joe's expansion, even though for many it won't benefit their own kids.

They shouldn't have to defend that decision any more than any citizen would have to defend the purchase of a book. And they shouldn't have to explain that a $50,000 expansion plan, developed by the premier architectural firm of SSOE, couldn't be reworked to include the Lathrop House any more than that book buyer would have to explain why he didn't want to tear the middle out of the book to satisfy a neighbor's unreasonable request.

Regardless of the rhetoric from The Blade or Toledo City Council regarding the priceless history involved, that $4 million statement from one parish stands in stark contrast to the pittance that the Friends of Lathrop House was able to raise from preservationists. After more than a year and despite help from St. Joe's and the park system, FOLH couldn't raise enough funding to move, restore, and maintain the house, so they opted to steal it.

Many St. Joseph parishioners respected FOLH's initially stated goal of preservation of the Lathrop House and may have contributed a small amount toward that end, but it wasn't a priority. That judgment seems to have been echoed in the community at large. Sylvania City Council thinks the community was wrong and they didn't want to give them a chance to vote on it.

JIM McMAHON

Sylvania

The administration of Toledo's Public Schools is unionized, as a result of which the average administrator is required to work less than 220 days per year for annual salaries in excess of $60,000. If these administrators were required to punch a time clock, it would also reveal the fiction of the “eight-hour workday.”

In addition these administrators get guaranteed sick pay, vacation time, assisted tuition programs, the best medical insurance that taxpayer money can buy, a terrific support staff, and a wonderful retirement. This is all made possible by the city of Toledo taxpayers who, as a group, give a bigger percentage of their real estate taxes to their schools than any other district in this area.

What has this well-paid administration done for the taxpayers in turn? They deceived and ignored them. The school buildings have not been maintained, so they must be replaced. The classrooms are overcrowded and even more teachers are being laid off. Extracurricular as well as academic programs are being eliminated. Bus service is being curtailed. Junk food habits are being instilled in our kids for the sake of a little extra profit.

Now that tests have shown that our kids can't read and write proficiently they have decided to build an “aquatic center.”

So vote for the levy - do it for the kids!

WILLIAM POZNANSKI

Melvin Drive

I am a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Riverside Elementary in Toledo Public Schools. If the levy does not pass, I probably will be laid off. I am scared, yes, but what is my worst fear? I won't be able to help support my son and daughter? I won't be able to find work? No. My worst fear is for the children that I teach and cherish every day.

Let me name just a few of their accomplishments. Last year, two of my students were chosen to receive scholarships (a full ride) to Ohio State University if they maintain a “B” average through high school. One of my students received honors from the local, state and, yes, even, the federal government for outstanding citizenship.

Reading proficiency scores increased 18 percent, and 93 percent of the sixth grade passed the writing proficiency. This year, most of my students are reading and writing at or above a sixth-grade level. They could have done this with any teacher, not just me, because it was their accomplishment.

My worst fear is that my students will not remember their accomplishments, but will remember how their community failed to help them achieve their goals and dreams. This levy is not about you, me, or the board. This levy is about them, these students who have dreams and goals, these students who want to succeed.

Anyone can place the blame – the board spends money wrong or the teachers and administrators don't care, or, better yet, they are failing to help our kids. You can look for a reason to fail this levy.

Find your scapegoat, but remember this: The ones most affected by failure of this levy are not the adults. We will survive.

Come to my classroom and ask my students if they will.

TRICIA FOJTIK

Sylvania

If, as Dr. Akba Khanzadeh contends, secondhand cigarette smoke contains unacceptable levels of nicotine, and people in the nonsmoking sections of restaurants are subjected to significant amounts of this, why haven't all these people become addicted to nicotine and taken up cigarette smoking?

JAMES H. BARNEY

Oregon

Just give me a head start

So some of the people who manage Davis-Besse are upset with being compared to Homer Simpson.

I will stop saying that if they will give me one week's notice before they restart. This will give me time to pack up and get far enough away.

CARL ZELLNER

Waterville



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