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Published: Wednesday, 11/19/2008

Architects honor historic building in Perrysburg

The historic house at 408 West Front St. as it appeared before its renovation. The historic house at 408 West Front St. as it appeared before its renovation.

A renovated historic home in Perrysburg has been given an award by AIA Ohio, the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

The house, at 408 West Front St., has been recognized with a 2008 Design Merit Award by the professional group. It was one of four buildings in the state to be given the award in the newly built and renovated category.

The 2,000-square-foot house is owned by architect David Munger and his wife, Mary. It likely was built before 1849, according to the Perrysburg Historic Inventory.

The historic house at 408 West Front St. as it appeared after its renovation. The historic house at 408 West Front St. as it appeared after its renovation.

The Mungers renovated and enlarged the house in 2005, and won an AIA Toledo Design Citation that year. Now the state AIA chapter has taken notice.

The jury making the awards included four architects from across the country. They described the house as "a jewel box" and "a sophisticated project" and praised it as a "new, old house" that "fits the scale of the neighborhood."

Mr. Munger designed the project and did a lot of the work himself, with the help of family and friends. As much as possible, he tried to remain true to the building's historic character, he said.

"We used all natural materials," he explained. "The siding is Dutch lap siding rather than vinyl, and we used sandstone for the sidewalk rather than concrete. The existing house stayed up and we built a new house around it. We preserved as much of the old as we could."

Mr. Munger said he couldn't give an estimate of the cost of the renovation project because so much sweat equity was involved, but the house is valued at $151,400 by the Wood County auditor. The Mungers live nearby and keep the building as a rental property.

A renovated room. A renovated room.

The architectural style of the house is Greek revival, but the house is not a pure example, Mr. Munger said.

Perrysburg historian Judy Justus has high praise for the project.

"This was a dilapidated old house. It was just an eyesore until he took it over. He kept it architecturally true to the area and to the period," she said.

In the course of the renovation, Mr. Munger redid the kitchen, added a family room, and expanded the dining area. The house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. A shack in the rear was removed and an attached garage added.

The house is just east of Pine Street, on a small lot that was once much larger and occupied the corner of Pine and Front. Mr. Munger believes the house's original lot was subdivided into three lots around 1900.

Indeed, the small lot made the design problem more complicated because of setback requirements and other zoning restrictions.

"It's only 40 feet wide and 115 feet deep," Mr. Munger explained. "I think it's one of the smallest lots on Front Street. By comparison, a traditional lot on Front is 66 feet by 165 feet."

Because the house is in the city's historic district, the project had to pass muster with the Perrysburg Historic Landmarks Commission.

The house has a rich history, according to the historic inventory.

Its previous owners included Dr. James Robertson, who bought the house in 1849. He is still remembered in Perrysburg for his service during an 1854 cholera epidemic. That same year, Dr. Robertson caught the disease and died.

It was later owned by another physician, Dr. Dwight Canfield, who was mayor from 1918 to 1921 and served as Wood County coroner.

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