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Published: Thursday, 3/22/2001

Boulevard plays vital role in city's history

BY HOMER BRICKEY
BLADE SENIOR BUSINESS WRITER

Collingwood Boulevard - the avenue some want to be renamed in honor of slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. - has a storied past.

In the early decades of the 20th century, Collingwood Boulevard was home to the city's elite. It was where many of the city's "Four Hundred" - the cr me de la cr me of local society - lived.

But the elegant street, lined with stately mansions and majestic shade trees, shared its space with many of Toledo's cultural, educational, and spiritual institutions.

Collingwood once was known as the "avenue of churches" - where the city's high society got baptized and married. And where their funerals were held.

The Collingwood Boulevard entries in old city directories from the 1920s read like a Who's Who of Toledo industrialists, bankers, doctors, and lawyers. Living in large homes along the street were families with names like Walbridge, Dodge, Bartley, Bentley, Welles, Secor, Berdan, Rorick, and MacNichol.

Among them, at Collingwood and Woodruff Avenue, was Lyman Spitzer, Sr., a successful businessman who was well involved in Toledo's political, cultural, sports, and social circles.

Mr. Spitzer, who died in 1979 at the age of 99, built the former Spitzer Paper Box Co. into a major industry before it was sold to Rockford Paper Mills. His daughter, Lydia Rheinfrank, was an inventor of paper-carton manufacturing processes, and her husband, Lamson Rheinfrank, was a sales manager for Libbey Glass.

Another prominent resident of Collingwood was the late Dorothy Rainie, who was society editor for the former Toledo Times and later The Blade for decades.

Ms. Rainie, who died in 1999, was the daughter of Dr. Frank Estill, a dentist who was wealthy enough to own a Pope-Toledo auto early in the 20th century.

She was educated at the Misses Smead School for Girls and learned to dance at the Misses Semple Dancing School.

Her first marriage, to retailer Walter Rainie, in 1930, was a society affair - held in the First Congregational Church on Collingwood.

At the time of her death, she was Mrs. Rudy Peckinpaugh, and, of course, her funeral was held in the same church.

There is some confusion over how the street got its name. One early account claims it was named for a British admiral, Barton Cutberth Collingwood, a naval hero in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

But other accounts say Collingwood - originally named the Old Territorial Road - got its name from a Toledo pioneer, Sanford L. Collins.

But there's no confusion about the avenue's importance to Toledo history.

At one time the street had seven churches of various denominations, and a Jewish synagogue. A number of impressive churches remain, including massive Rosary Cathedral, First Congregational, and St. Mark's Episcopal.

Scott High School, opened in 1912, was named for Jesup W. Scott, a Blade editor in the mid-19th century known for his brilliant writing and civic contributions. Mr. Scott donated 160 acres to the city for a technical school that became an important part of what was to become the University of Toledo.

And from the early 1920s until 1975, Collingwood was home to Mary Manse College, several other schools, two libraries, and a hospital.

Many of the buildings have been recycled into other uses. The Ursuline convent is now the Collingwood Arts Center. The former Jewish community center is now area headquarters for the American Red Cross.

Over the years, Collingwood also has been home to a German athletic association, an artists' club, rest homes, funeral homes, and numerous professional offices.



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