Images of Oak Harbor

Play practice is in session on the stage at the Town Hall and a cast photo has been taken.  Ready for use in May of 1907, the second floor stage was 25 feet wide with both overhead and recessed floor lighting.  The large open audience area had a seating capacity, including a balcony, of 400 people. Sitting in wooden wrought iron seats attached to a slanting floor, everyone had an unobstructed view of the many plays, orations, minstrel shows, and school graduations held in the building.  It was used for almost everything until the high school auditorium was built in 1935.  The date of this photo is not known nor are those shown in it known.

Skating on the Portage River.  It seemed like the river iced over every winter in the “olden days” and many a sleighing party and skating party were held on the ice.  This photo was taken sometime around 1912.  The bridge, shown on the right, was the interurban bridge at the foot of Church Street.  The building, in the background on the left, is the fire station.   As this photo was found in the family photo album of George Smith, a commercial photographer in Oak Harbor, it is probably some of his family.


The Faugh-A- Bellgh (Faugh-A-Ballaugh) was a two mast freight vessel. Meaning “Clear the Way” in Gaelic, this vessel has a flat bottom and square ends of a scow and is usually towed, the sails helping to move it along.  It is shown docked at the Anspach Lumber Mill & Hoop Factory on the North bank of the Portage River on the West Water Street between Benton & Toussaint Streets.  The photo was taken sometime prior to 1895.  Local lore has that this scow brought the stone trim for the Kuebeler Hotel up the Portage River in 1899.  The small house, shown in background on the far right side of the factory is on the southeast corner of Main/Toussaint Streets and still exists.

Looking from the foot of Church Street, to the south bank of the Portage River, this three span steel interurban bridge was built by the Toledo, Port Clinton & Lakeside Railway in 1904.  The closest two spans, in this picture, would swing open on a center abutment to allow boat traffic upriver.  The three towers above the bridge carried the electric power for the interurban cars and did not swing when the bridge opened.  The logs, shown in the river, were floated/stored here until being used at a barrel & stave factory further upstream.  The far (3rd) span would be destroyed in 1923 and the bridge completely removed in 1946.  The center abutment can still be seen in the river today (2011). This photo was taken sometime prior to 1916.

This is the Michael D. Thierwechter grain elevator that was located just east of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad depot, on the south side of Main Street, the site of the current VFW/Community Market Hall. Built in 1875, this structure lasted until 1900 when a fire of suspicious origins would, in January of that year, cause $8,000 damage to the building and $12,000 water damage to 12,000 bushels of grain.  Workmen were still repairing that damage when another fire, a month later, in February, would completely destroy the building with a total loss of $15,000 to $20,000.  Grain elevators would continue to be built on this site through the years with the last being torn down in 1984.

A photo taken January 23, 1904 by George Smith (commercial Oak Harbor photographer) shows the flooding in Oak Harbor that year.  Caused by an ice jam at the bottom of the wagon bridge spanning the Portage River at Locust Street, the high water would flood the low lying areas along Locust Street from Main Street to Oak Street.  Looking east on Main Street, toward Locust Street, from about the current Oak Harbor Library location, the two large homes in the right center of the photo were lived in by Henry Kilmer (left) and Pete Kramb (right).  These houses,still very recognizable today, are the first two houses on the east side of Locust Street, north of Main Street.

An old Oak Harbor house.  Built in 1863/1864, this house still exists. With very few structural changes, it is easily recognizable, as being located at 224 East Water Street in the downtown area.  This photo, taken sometime between 1914 and 1928, shows it being used as the business and home of George D. Smith. Mr. Smith was a commercial photographer, having learned his trade by working with Jacob Hoover, another photographer in Oak Harbor. Many pictures of the people and the businesses of Oak Harbor taken between 1894 and 1928 were taken by George Smith.

Judging by the banner on the wall and the decorations hanging from the ceiling.   This shows a typical grocery store that could be found in Oak Harbor in the early 1900’s.  The large selection of prepared foods and canned goods is on the left side.  Just showing on the right side is what appears to be tubs of nuts and a scale to weight them on.  Most of the downtown stores were small, by modern standards, averaging only 40 feet wide and 100 feet deep.   Location, name of store, and names of people shown are unknown but photo was taken by George Smith, a local commercial photographer.

Otto Beier and his brother, Charles operated the Oak Harbor Creamery.  Started in 1891, it would last into the 1920’s.  When it was started, it was the largest and most modern creamery in the state, needing 2000 gallons of milk daily.  A February, 1902 Exponent article stated that the Oak Harbor Creamery was turning out 340 to 360 pounds of yellow butter three times a week.  The creamery was located on north side of Houghton Street, west of Church Street.  The location, date, and identity of man shown in this photo are  not known.

Rosentreter Brothers Harness Shop was a manufacturer of harness of every description & dealer in saddles, blankets, whips, combs, brushes, nets, boots & all kinds of horse clothing, etc.  The shop was opened in 1895 and run by Charles & Oscar Rosentreter.  The stuffed horse, used to show the various items made in the shop, may have originally come from the Erv Ellsworth Harness Shop.  Charles Rosentreter was offering “fine shoe repair” as late as 1929.  This photo, circa 1905, shows the Rosentreter Harness Shop when it was in the brick building that is still at 119 West Water Street.

This thresher was manufactured by The C. Aultman & Company for A.W. & J.J. Rider of Locust Point, Ohio.  The thresher, shown pulled by a steam tractor, could thresh 500-1000 bushels of wheat a day or 1000-2000 bushels of oats a day and was considered to be quite an improvement in farming for its time.  This photo was taken at the Water Street/Church Street corner between 1882 & 1894 and looks toward the northeast. The store on the corner in the background is the Amos Fought grocery store.  It appears to be a warm day in town, sometime during the week, as most of the men are in shirt sleeves and there are no horses or wagons at the hitching rails.  Notice the street is dirt and the hitching rails are wood.

This is Water Street, looking east toward the Church Street/Water Street intersection.  The wooden buildings, on the left, are where the Kueleber Hotel building is now. The open space in between these wooden buildings and the next brick buildings is Church Street.  On the right side of the photo, the multi-windowed front of the Portage House (hotel) is shown.  This brick building was where the Armory at one time was and is now currently a parking lot just to the east of the Community Market Water Street entrance. Seen in the distance is a part of a sign painted on the side of a building. This was the Danner & Vogel Hardware Store and is the same brick building where the Oak Harbor Hardware is now located.  The photo was taken December 24, 1883 by Jacob Hoover, a commercial photographer who lived and worked in Oak Harbor.

A postcard view of the north side of Water Street from Locust Street to Church Street.  Taken between 1900 & 1908, the photo shows a (then) modern, up to date town with mainly brick commercial buildings fronting on a brick street with concrete sidewalks.  The IOOF (Independent Order of Odd Fellows) had a meeting hall on the upper level of the building shown on the right.  The building on the far left (gray & not colored) was the 3 story Kuebeler Hotel.   Because of the large amount of wagons & buggies in town, this photo was probably taken on a Saturday.  This was the day most people, especially farmers, went to town to do their shopping.  Most of the buildings shown in this photo still exist on Water Street.

More pictures and postcards of Water Street