Focus on Fostoria - Oct_15_95
How did the buildings in downtown Fostoria get their name?
From Fostoria Focus Oct. 15, 1995
By Leonard Skonecki
What's in a name? If you take a look at the older buildings in downtown Fostoria, you'll see that several have names on the front-Cadwallader, Andes, Foster, Quinn and some others. Who were these people? And why are their names on these buildings?
The most recognizable name is surely the "Foster Block" building that houses Fostoria Art & Frame, Sherwood Plastics, Burger's Shoes and Sherwin Williams on South Main St.
The building was built in 1882 by Charles Foster. Foster was born in 1828 moved to the village of Rome with his family in 1832. At the age of 20 he joined his father Charles W. Foster (For whom Fostoria was named) in the family mercantile business on the corner of Tiffin and Main Streets.
Foster prospered and branched out into real-estate and banking. From 1870 to 1878 young Foster served as the representative from Ohio's 10th District. He was twice elected Ohio governor and served as Treasury Secretary under President Benjamin Harrison.
Over one of the entrances to the Foster Block building, it reads "Charles Ash Building;' Charles Ash was one of Fostoria's most important residents for nearly 50 years. He was born in 1857 to a very prosperous Dutch farming family. Ash expanded the family enterprises into profitable real estate holdings. In 1902 he was one of the organizers of the Commercial Bank and Savings Co. and served as the bank's president from 1903-1928
Ash was active in local Republican politics. He was the Seneca County Treasurer from 1902-06 and was elected to the Ohio General Assembly in 1908. In 1896 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention and cast his ballot for fellow Ohioan and eventual President, William McKinley.
Ash was a member of the Fostoria Board of Education, helped found the YMCA and donated the land on Tiffin St. where the Masonic Temple stands. When he died on June 22, 1954 at age 96, he was thought to be Fostoria's oldest citizen.
The J. Andes Block building on North Main St. is home to WFOB Radio, Candy's Antiques and Shumway's Florist. John Andes was born in Germany in 1836. He immigrated to America when he was 16 lived in Tiffin where he became a blacksmith. In 1856 he traveled to the American West and when he returned, he settled in Fostoria.
Andes established a carriage, buggy and spring wagon manufacturing business in 1865. the business was located at 135 W. Center St. In 1878 he build the J. Andes Block building. The front of the building houses offices. On the front of the building it also says, "Andres Opera Hall." the rear of the building was home to an opera house with seating for 800 and a fully equipped 24 x 64 foot stage. It was the centerpiece of much of Fostoria's entertainment and cultural life.
Right next door, is the "Quinn Block" which is the location of the Smokehouse. In 1851 Mary Quinnlan, an orphan, came to America from Ireland. She lived in Tiffin where she married James Quinn. They moved to Fostoria an established a successful bakery. They built the Quinn Block to house their expanding business which eventually had an entire staff of bakers.
The best known of the Quiinn family was John and Mary's eldest child, John who was born in 1870. Mary Quinn was a firm believer in the value of education and saw to it that John studied hard. It paid off because John studied law at Georgetown and Harvard. In 1889 he was appointed secretary to "Calico Charlie" Foster when Foster became U.S. Treasury Secretary.
When he was age 25, John Quinn went to New York to practice law. he traveled extensively and counted among his friends such well known literary figures as Ezre Pound, James Joyce and Joseph Conrad.
The building that houses the Fostoria Town Center Antique Mall on North Main bears the name "Cadwallader" on its front. The Cadwallader name in this area dates back to 1832 when Samuel and Mary Cadwallader. bought land in the Poplar/McDougal St. area. Their son Ira, cleared the land and started the Eureka Planing Mill and Lumber Co. (Later the East North Street Lumber Co.) which made doors, sashes and blinds. Ira also started the Cadwallader Brick Yard on Columbus Ave. Between the bricks and the lumber, Ira Cadwallander exerted enormous influence on the growth of Fostoria around the turn of the century.
Cadwallader was also, along with Charles Ash, instrumental in founding the Fostoria Light Car Co. in 1915. After two reorganizations, the company emerged in 1917 as the Seneca Motorcar Co. with Lester Cadwallader as manager.
Seneca produced three to five automobiles per day and 80 percent of their production was exported to places such as, Australia, Borneo and China. Seneca Motorcar prospered until Henry Ford developed the assembly line. Seneca couldn't compete with mass production techniques and manufactured it's last car in 1924.
It's appropriate that there are two buildings on Main St. with the name "Burtscher". One houses Reflections of You on South Main and the other is home to Special Touch and City Loan. The Burtschers were twin brothers, Frank and Charles, who owned a grocery at 105 S. Main St. around the turn of the century. Carrying a wider selection than other groceries at the time, their store may have been Fostoria's first "supermarket."
The Ohio State Beverage store on East North St. is located in the Ghaster Block building. Built by S.L. Ghaster in 1896, it housed the Ghaster Poster Advertising Co. Mr. Ghaster also served Fostoria as postmaster in 1909 and 1910.
Bud's Bakery, Commercial Press and the Senior Citizen Center are all residents of the Williams Merganhaler building on East Tiffin St. Merganthaler, who built the building in 1890, owned and operated the successful Fostoria Carriage Works at 222 East Center St.
So the names Cadwallader, Andes, Ash and the rest represent a generation that laid the foundation of our community. They are a visible reminder of our history and of the hard work and dedication of people long gone who strove to make Fostoria a good place in which to work and live.