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Published: Sunday, 5/21/2006

They used to live here: Toledo notables' childhood homes

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Rain gutters droop from the eaves and weeds clog a flower box of a tan-sided house in a quiet east Toledo neighborhood that has seen better days.

The condition of the 104-year-old residence at 1214 Valentine St. belies its significance.

It was the childhood home of 1950s pop singer Teresa Brewer, who rose to the top of the charts with hits such as "Till I Waltz Again With You" and "Music, Music, Music."

Most houses of celebrities and notable people who grew up in northwest Ohio are treasured by current owners who are aware of their histories.

But the homes - some humble, some swanky - usually don't command higher prices than surrounding properties, according to Lucas County property records and interviews with owners of a sampling of the numerous celebrity-childhood homes in the area.

Many homes of the famous and notable were torn down in urban renewal campaigns of the 1960s and 1970s.

Others, although still standing, clearly have not received star-pampering.

A central city housing project sits on a site at 909 Walnut St. where the late comedian Danny Thomas (father of Marlo) spent part of his childhood.

Similarly, onetime homes of comedian Jamie Farr, on North Michigan Street; the late actor/comedian Joe E. Brown, Avondale Avenue; the late Ohio Gov. Michael DiSalle, Avondale Avenue; jazz pioneer Jon Hendricks, City Park Avenue; and feminist and author Gloria Steinem, Woodville Road, couldn't escape dates with wrecking crews.

Among the priciest childhood homes is that of actress Katie Holmes, whose romance with Tom Cruise has grabbed international headlines.

The property, at 4777 Springbrook Dr. in Sylvania Township's swank Corey Woods development, is appraised for tax purposes at $267,000, or nearly 2.5 times median house prices in metro Toledo. (But it is in line with other houses in Corey Woods.)

The brick, colonial-influenced ranch was built in 1961 and has four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, and nearly 3,300 square feet of living space.

Darla and John Schlageter bought the house from Katie's parents in 1996 for $195,000, according to records at the Lucas County auditor's office. Martin Holmes, the actress' father, is a law partner of Mr. Schlageter.

The mirror where the actress practiced dance moves as a child remains in place, as does her bedroom wallpaper, Mrs. Schlageter said.

"In the very beginning, we would laugh and say when Katie is famous we'll have to give tours," she said.

The family has had occasional calls from reporters or fans, but the house hasn't attracted much attention, she added.

Although the current owners have no plans to sell, Mrs. Schlageter doubts that the links to the actress and her much-discussed Hollywood romance have increased the home's value. "We've taken care of the house and always felt it was a happy home, but I don't think so," she said.

Even pricier is the childhood home of musician Tom Scholz, a onetime Polaroid camera designer who founded the rock group Boston in the mid-1970s. Lucas County puts the value of the posh place in Ottawa Hills at $563,000.

The story-and-a-half brick home at 2444 Edgehill Rd. has four bedrooms and four baths spread and 4,300 square feet of living space.

It was owned by the musician's parents, local builder Don Scholz and his wife, Olive, from the mid-1950s when the rocker was just starting school to 1967 when he was preparing to graduate from high school.

At 1123 City Park Ave., an Ohio historical plaque erected three years ago marks the property as the home of legendary jazz pianist Art Tatum.

The house bears a recent coat of tan paint. Lace curtains hang at upstairs windows. But the front lawn of the 1905 structure is more weeds than grass, and first-floor windows and doors are boarded over to protect the property from intruders.

There was some talk of turning the house into a museum, said the owner, Lucille Johnson, who is a niece of the musician. She inherited the house four years ago after the death of her mother, who was Mr. Tatum's sister.

"A lot of work has to be done," said Mrs. Johnson. But at 73, she is in no position to do it. "All I'm doing is paying taxes on it," she said. "We haven't decided what's going to go in the house."

Thirty-three years after buying the childhood home of John Snow, now U.S. Treasury secretary, antique dealer Mike Teachout continues restoration work. As he gave a tour of the Old West End residence to a visitor, he pointed out pine wainscoting that he recently refinished.

The Treasury secretary was born in Toledo in 1939 and spent most of his childhood in the two-story home at 2360 Scottwood Ave. His father was a Toledo attorney.

The house was built in 1905 and originally was one of three side-by-side townhouses. A subsequent owner divided one of the townhouses into three apartments.

Mr. Teachout purchased the entire complex in the 1970s. He lives in the Snows' unit, which has three bedrooms and a maid's quarters that Mr. Teachout has converted to an office.

He doubts that the home's history has boosted its value but said: "It's just a little bit of celebrity."

The childhood home of humorist and author P.J. O'Rourke sits on a tidy street adjacent to I-475 in West Toledo. Red bricks on the lower half of the two-story home at 1749 Jermain Dr. have faded a little, but black shutters, a well-manicured lawn, and perfectly trimmed hedges give it an inviting appearance.

The four-bedroom home, which has been owned since 1975 by Charles and Georgia Summers, is valued at $89,000 by the county.

Mr. Summers was changing a tire in the driveway as a reporter approached. On one occasion, he said, a fan showed up unannounced wanting to talk about Mr. O'Rourke.

If he sells, Mr. Summers said, he hopes the house's link with celebrity will help fetch an attractive price. The O'Rourke family owned the house from its construction in 1951 until 1972, according to county records.

The eight-room childhood home of Jim Leyland, manager of the Detroit Tigers, sits next to the municipal building in Perrysburg at 213 West Indiana Ave.

The 1888 residence was purchased by the city four years ago for $111,000 for possible expansion. As part of the deal, Mr. Leyland's mother, Veronica, lived there rent-free until her death in 2004.

Since then, the coach's brother, Father Thomas Leyland, pastor of nearby St. Rose Parish, has rented the house, said John Alexander, Perrysburg administrator.

Jim Jackson, longtime player in the National Basketball Association, was reared by a bus driver and a corporate secretary in a three-bedroom house at 915 Woodstock Ave. built in 1917.

James and Sandra Jackson have since moved to the upscale Stone Oak development in Springfield Township but continue to own the Woodstock Avenue property. The county values it at $31,200.

Bonnie Turner, a screenwriter and TV producer whose credits include That 70s Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun, resided during her later childhood years at 4608 Shadowood Lane in southwest Toledo

Meanwhile, on Valentine Street, a box of building materials stored on an enclosed front porch suggests that renovations may be under way on the house of Teresa Brewer. The current owner, who lives in Key West, couldn't be reached for comment.

The singer's parents, Helen and Ludwig Breuer, bought the house in 1939, and it remained in the family for the next 60 years. It was sold in 1999 for $18,000.

Contact Gary Pakulski at: gpakulski@theblade.com or 419-724-6082.



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