Built in the 1840s, the former home of the Maumee Color Co. on West Wayne Street was known for its long and storied history when brothers Tom and Al Wagener bought it 32 years ago.
Until that point, its future seemed less than bright.
"If we wouldn't have purchased it, eventually it would have probably been a parking lot," Tom Wagener, 74, recalled yesterday.
The Wageners launched a reconstruction project for the red brick-and-wooden beam "Buttergilt Building" at 228 West Wayne St. with relatives, friends, and members of the Maumee Fire Department, where both brothers then served.
Today, the structure retains much of its original appearance and materials, and since the early 1980s has welcomed a variety of tenants, including The Quilt
Foundry. It is believed to be the area's oldest factory structure still in commercial use.
In honor of the restoration and the Wageners' ongoing "aggressive maintenance," the Landmarks Preservation Council of Northwest Ohio last night awarded the building one of two bronze plaques during its annual Excellence in Preservation Awards held at the Park Lane Luxury Apartments in Toledo.
The second plaque went to the former Macy's warehouse building at 100 South Huron St. in downtown Toledo's Warehouse District that was converted into 27 condominium units.
The council also awarded eight certificates recognizing people, organizations, and businesses that in recent years have furthered the aims of preservation.
The Buttergilt Building received its nomination from longtime neighbor Marilyn Wendler, former director of the Maumee Valley Historical Society. "The building could easily have fallen into disrepair with the wrong ownership, or worse," Mrs. Wendler said. "One day I was just thinking, 'It really is time that we nominate this building and commend the Wagener family for preserving it."
The brothers' father, Fred Wagener, worked in the factory building for 46 years while the company was the nation's leading producer of yellow coloring for margarine, which it sold under the Buttergilt product name still visible in black-and-yellow paint on the front facade.
Tom Wagener and his wife, Jacqueline, have continued to own and care for the building after Al Wagener's death in 1999.
Last night's certificate recipients included:
•The Historic Church of St. Patrick, 130 Avondale Ave.
A recent renovation of the 1900 Gothic church added a new copper-clad steeple and restored the church to its original magnificence.
Duket Porter & Associates, 830 North Summit St., along with architect Steve Shrake, received certificates for their vision in restoring the church.
•Martin + Wood Appraisal Group Ltd., 43 South St. Clair St.
President and owner Kenneth Wood has turned a late 19th-century building in Toledo's Warehouse District into office and residential space.
•Save Our Courthouse Committee and The Blade.
Committee members banded together to try to save the 1884 Seneca County Courthouse after the county's commissioners moved to demolish it.
With the help of The Blade's in-depth coverage, the committee delayed the razing and brought the matter to the attention of Gov. Ted Strickland.
•Paul R. Sullivan, Jr., a prominent Toledo-area architect who long has been active in historic preservation.
A past chairman and member of the Landmarks Preservation Council, Mr. Sullivan serves on the Old West End Historic District Commission.
•Tony Packo's in downtown Toledo.
The well-known restaurant in East Toledo opened a location in 2006 in an old warehouse on Superior Street in downtown Toledo.
•20 North Gallery, 18 North St. Clair St.
The three-story building provides office space in addition to its first-gallery.
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