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Published: Wednesday, 5/7/2008

East Toledo groups seek old library as their base

BY CHAUNCEY ALCORN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Edward Slack, right, public relations chairman with the Toledo History Museum Inc., and Jeanette Morrell, a real estate specialist in Toledo, discuss the future of the old Locke Branch Library. Edward Slack, right, public relations chairman with the Toledo History Museum Inc., and Jeanette Morrell, a real estate specialist in Toledo, discuss the future of the old Locke Branch Library.
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Three Toledo community historical groups looking for a home may have found it in East Toledo's former Locke Branch Library building.

Members of the East Toledo Historical Society, the Toledo Historical Museum, and the Toledo Police Historical Museum toured the vacant building at 806 Main St. yesterday afternoon with a representative of the city's department of development, real estate division.

The three groups, which collect and preserve historical relics and documents, have separate places where they meet and store their items. But none has a place for displaying those items to the public.

Toledo officials hope the former library can give the groups a museum and a place to call home.

Gail Wahl, left, climbs out from a hidden corner of the old library after exploring it with Mr. Slack. Gail Wahl, left, climbs out from a hidden corner of the old library after exploring it with Mr. Slack.
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"It was a community-based building before as a library, and we would like to keep it based for community services," said city Real Estate Specialist Jeanette Morell. "To make it actually happen, an ordinance would have to be passed by City Council with approval by the mayor."

The 8,850-square-foot building was constructed in 1917 and was home to the Locke Branch Library until July, 2007, when administrators moved the library to its Miami Street location.

The library was one of several donated to Toledo by 19th-century steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie, who stipulated that city government take ownership of the building upon its vacancy.

"I think [city government] would like to see a permanent resident in this building that would respect its history in that it is a Carnegie building," Mrs. Morell said.

Three East Toledo history groups want to obtain the Locke Branch Library from the city and create a public museum. Three East Toledo history groups want to obtain the Locke Branch Library from the city and create a public museum.
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The historical groups yesterday discussed the pros and cons of moving into the building, with the negatives including utility costs and possibly paying taxes.

"We do not have a location, and it is one of our goals to have a location where we can preserve the history of

Toledo," said Edward Slack, public relations chairman for the Toledo History Museum Inc.

Gail Wahl, a trustee for the East Toledo Historical Society, said the building could be used as a meeting place and a museum.

Karen Martensen, president of the Toledo Police Historical Museum, said using the building would be good for all groups involved as well as the neighborhood.

"I think it would answer a lot of questions as far as where would we be," she said. "It would also help the neighborhood because it would be an actively used building as opposed to a vacant one."

Mrs. Morell said the building and land have not been appraised recently, but are valued at $183,000 by the Lucas County Auditor's Office.

Contact Chauncey Alcorn at:

calcorn@theblade.com

or 419-724-6168.



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