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Published: Thursday, 12/28/2000

Mansion upkeep puts strain on preservationists' budget

BY REBEKAH SCOTT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Owning a large Victorian mansion might be a dream for many, but the reality of the Mansion View Inn - a gift valued at $400,000 given to the Old West End Association in November - is causing some sleepless nights for the volunteers who run the non-profit group.

It costs about $3,000 a month to heat and maintain the four-story, 25-room showplace at 2035 Collingwood Blvd.

The association has a $20,000 annual budget, which comes from contributions and grants, leaving several committees to work with whatever money they can raise themselves, said president Dennis Lange. Even so, Mr. Lange said the organization is happy to have the Queen Anne-style Reynolds-Secor homestead, which for the last six years was a bed and breakfast inn.

“It's put a serious cramp in our budget, but we're confident we'll find the money we need to make it all happen,” he said. “Everyone's tightened up, and we expect to feel a big strain for a year or two. But all in all, we expect the place to pay for itself. Eventually.”

Organizers are booking downstairs parlors and kitchen areas for corporate parties, receptions, and conventions, he said. A bridal fair will be held there Jan. 21, and several summer wedding reservations are booked.

Event planners are expected to pay $50 to $80 per hour for the plush backdrop for their posh occasions, he said.

Upstairs are two floors of rooms suitable for offices, offering unique settings for local companies or small businesses.

The association lacks furnishings and know-how to reopen the site as a bed-and-breakfast, he said - and the last owners, Collingwood Realty, Inc., - could not make the business profitable.

“We'd love to get a tenant into the carriage house too,” Mr. Lange added. “That's 6,500 square feet of space. It needs about a quarter-million in repair and restoration, and we need to put about $150,000 into a new roof for the main building, ... but we're optimistic.”

The house last sold for $265,000 in 1994, according to Lucas County auditor's records. Its tax value is $166,000.

It was designed more than 100 years ago by Edward O. Fallis, architect of the original Valentine Theatre. It was a summer “cottage” for the Reynolds family and a succession of Toledo magnates.

“There's been no talk of us selling it. We're all about preserving it,” Mr. Lange said.

The Old West End Association is a registered nonprofit group that aims to preserve the neighborhood's historic character and build community spirit, the president said.

Its education committee funds a scholarship at Scott High School as well as local camp, tutoring, and grade school programs.

It owns and maintains a neighborhood arboretum, oversees lighting and sidewalk renovations, and makes $1,000 grants to businesses and institutions seeking to keep up appearances or renovate neglected properties.

At least it did all that before the mansion.

Larry Stine, co-chairman of the preservation committee, sends handwritten, personal letters to potential donors, detailing his committee's good works and explaining its plight.

“In anticipation of the enormous costs in heating, insurance, maintenance, and repairs [at the mansion], the association has cut the budgets of the other committees. ... The Preservation Committee, which I co-chair, has seen its budget slashed to whatever donations we can raise,” he wrote to a Scottwood Avenue resident. “We must raise more funds.”



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