The mansion on Scottwood Avenue that was home a century ago to glass industrialist Edward Drummond Libbey and his wife, Florence Scott Libbey, is to become a museum of sorts - showcasing how Toledo came to be the Glass City.
A local nonprofit group, the Libbey House Foundation, recently certified as a 501(c)(3) charity under IRS regulations, said it will buy within the next couple of weeks the 7,300-square-foot house near the Toledo Museum of Art, an institution founded by Mr. Libbey.
The group said it plans to raise $3.3 million, including $1.8 million to refurbish the mansion and $1 million for an endowment to ensure its future.
All of this started three years ago with a bus tour. One of the passengers on the bus filled with Leadership Toledo members was Tedd Long, a principal in the Toledo-based human-resources consulting firm Findley Davies Inc. and now vice chairman of the foundation.
When the bus pulled up in front of the Libbey mansion at 2008 Scottwood, the narrator, Ted Ligibel, local historian and preservation activist, talked of the importance of the Libbeys to the glass industry, the museum, and Toledo.
"I was shocked to see a 'for sale' sign in front," recalled Mr. Long. "It just didn't seem right." He remembers that Mr. Ligibel challenged him by saying, "Why don't you do something about it?"
Mr. Long did exactly that: He organized a group of about 10 who explored the possibility of the Libbey House being run by the Toledo Area Metroparks. That didn't pan out, but James Findley, a founder of Findley Davies, had the idea to bring in a fund-raiser, a glass man to boot.
The man they chose, Philip Williams, is a retired Owens-Illinois Inc. vice president who has raised funds for such groups as the Black Swamp Conservancy, Planned Parenthood, and the former Toledo Goaldiggers professional hockey team. In addition, Mr. Williams' wife, Nancy, was a Levis, of the family that ran the Illinois Glass Co., a forerunner of O-I.
"I feel good about all this support," said Mr. Williams, chairman of the Libbey House
Foundation, which was incorporated about a year ago. "Much of what needed to happen has happened."
The foundation has garnered support from five big glass companies, he explained, and each is expected to have an exhibit area.
The group originally envisioned the house as a "glassmakers' museum."
However, Mr. Williams said he no longer wants it to be called a museum because the exhibits - involving glass firms' history, processes, inventors, and technology - will be constantly updated and expanded.
There will be exhibit halls for O-I, Owens Corning, Libbey Inc., Pilkington PLC (formerly Libbey-Owens-Ford Co.), and Johns Manville Corp., whose fiberglass operation grew out of a Toledo firm, Glass Fibers Inc., Mr. Williams said.
The Libbey House "will be another reason for people to come downtown," he said. He wants to make sure that it tells the glass story honestly.
Exhibits will chronicle the glass industry's development in Toledo and credit other industrialists and inventors who helped create the industry and helped Toledo become a major glass center more than a century ago, he said.
Plans call for first floor to look as it did a century ago when the Libbeys lived there.
It also will have areas for receptions, dinners, and meetings.
Exhibits are planned for the second floor and possibly the third floor, although the group said some of the third floor could be used as living quarters for visiting artists and VIPs.
Mr. Williams said exhibits will be enhanced by videos and archives housed at the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at the University of Toledo's Carlson Library.
Barbara Floyd, director of the Canaday center, has been working with the Libbey House group for a couple of years. "This is a great addition to Toledo," she said.
The Libbey group hopes to get access to the archives of the USW Flint Glass Industry union. Its members included Toledo inventor Michael J. Owens, whose processes were bankrolled by Edward Drummond Libbey.
Among others who have helped with planning the Libbey House project are the architectural firm Duket Porter Associates and the Walbridge construction firm Rudolph/Libbe Inc., which built the Toledo Museum of Art's $30 million Glass Pavilion almost adjacent to the Libbey House.
Besides Mr. Williams and Mr. Long, board members of the Libbey House Foundation are attorney Robert Sterling, with the law firm Weber & Sterling LLC, secretary, and Tom Hurley, chief operating officer of Findley Davies, treasurer.
Mr. Williams declined to disclose the purchase price for the Libbey House.
But the current owners, Lloyd and Jeanene Perkins, bought it in 1993 for $240,000 and several years ago put it up for sale with an asking price of $500,000.
"For me, it has been an education, taking something from idea to actuality," said Mr. Long. "
So far, everyone says this is a good idea. It has been a really good experience for me."