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Posted on: February 7, 2024

Historic Building of the Month: Manville House – 416 West Wooster Street

Front View of Manville House from Street

The prominent Bowling Green physician and pharmacist Dr. Andrew J. Manville built the red brick building at 416 W. Wooster Street as his family home in the 1860s or 1870s. As was customary in that era, Dr. Manville saw patients in a specially equipped part of the house. Later, the building was popularly called the "Old Hospital,” and historically it has been known as Community Hospital. It served as the main medical center of Wood County from 1932 to 1951 and was used as a hospital or nursing home into the 1990s. The former Manville home is probably the oldest still-existing building on Wooster Street. 

Dr. Manville was born in 1834 in Plain Township during the pioneer days and became a successful farmer. His mother encouraged him to study medicine with Dr. G. J. Rogers, who was also his partner in a Bowling Green drug store. He studied at the medical college in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and earned his M.D. from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York. His public service included playing a key role in relocating both the Wood County seat of government and the county fair from Perrysburg to Bowling Green. 

He was also treasurer of the Bowling Green & Toledo Railroad Company and helped finance the construction of the Union Block, which housed the Manville & Bolles drugstore until 1896 and still stands at 108-112 S. Main Street. Manville’s biography was presented at the Wood County Historical Society's Living History Day in August 2023, thanks to research by our local chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society.

Dr. Manville died in 1902 when he was struck by a train in Custar. His widow Alice, née Sholes (1850-1932), continued to live in the home, as recalled by West Wooster resident Minnie Belle Conley in her memoir “Thanks for the Memories.” In 1920, Alice Manville married Dr. D. F. Thompson of Georgia, who also resided at 416 W. Wooster. Alice died at home in July 1932 and was survived by her daughter Iona Haswell and son-in-law Alfred Haswell of Bowling Green and her grandson Claude Manville Haswell of Maumee and later of Bowling Green. 

On September 15, 1932, just two months after Alice Manville’s death, the Wood County News published an announcement under the headline “Community Hospital Will Open Here Soon”: “The name of the Christeller Home which was recently moved to the Manville residence at 416 W. Wooster Street, has been changed to The Community Hospital. Extensive changes have been made in the building and when completed it will be very efficient and attractive. It has been inspected and approved by state officials and will soon be ready to serve the public.” 

The Christeller Home hospital had just been opened in 1931 at 816 N. Main Street, but the owner and operator Nurse Betty Riggs moved it to the Manville House in the next year. Betty Riggs Sted Kiebler was born in 1891 in West Virginia and attended nursing school at Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, NY.  She worked at Toledo Hospital before coming to Bowling Green, where she operated several nursing homes before opening the Christeller Home. 

The new Community Hospital had 14 beds and an operating room on the second floor. Many residents still living in northwest Ohio were born here, although no elevator was available to take women in labor to the second-floor birthing room. After 1947, the Wood County Hospital assisted the old hospital with rent to keep it open until 1951, when the new hospital was operational.

And yet the Community Hospital continued to offer services until 1961. A 1957 advertisement in the Perrysburg Leader still announced that “COMMUNITY HOSPITAL equipment is thoroughly modern and up to date and the many people who have been patients there speak highly for the service that they render. Their staff of nurses are most competent. We can be glad we live in a modern age, in a modern community which boasts a truly modern hospital.”

By 1961 the hospital had become the Community Nursing Home, which became Adams Manor Nursing Home in 1965 and the Wooster Manor Nursing Home in 1984. In 1993, the nursing home closed, and the building has been vacant since then, under the ownership of Rapids Nursing Homes Inc, MWH Co, Ltd (1993-2007) and Community Hospital BG Ohio LLC (2007-2023). In 2023, the current owner purchased the property hoping to donate it to a non-profit willing to renovate it for a public purpose, but is now exploring possibilities for renovating the building as private housing.  

Although the building needs many renovations, updates, and repairs, several essential features remain intact. There are two original stairways and one ornate banister. There is an original fireplace and four sets of pocket doors, as well as original moldings. Visitors remark on the old-fashioned milling of boards in sizes that are no longer standard, as well as the construction methods visible in the attic. The foundation and masonry walls are sound. 

The Historic Preservation Commission wants the Bowling Green community to know that the Manville House, part of the Boomtown Historic District placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and part of the living history of this town, is in danger of being torn down if funding and a new purpose are not found for it. The commission welcomes ideas for preserving this landmark.

(Written by Geoffrey C. Howes, Historic Preservation Commission. Thanks to Anesa Miller, friend of the Historic Preservation Commission, for assistance in gathering information for this article.) 

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