The Libbey House Foundation Grant

The Libbey House Foundation Grant



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Libbey House Foundation Receives Ohio History Fund Grant

The Libbey House Foundation, in collaboration with The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, is the recipient of a $9,158 Ohio History Fund grant from the Ohio History Connection to make Toledo’s only National Historic Landmark accessible to all.  The funds will be used to build an exterior ramp on the Libbey House and a disability-accessible restroom on the home’s first floor.  The award was announced by Andy Verhoff, coordinator of Local History Services, at the Ohio History Connection’s recent Statehood Day held in Columbus.

The funds come from Ohio taxpayers who donate to the Ohio History Fund with a check-off on their state income tax forms.

“We are excited have been one of the recipients of a History Fund grant this year,” said Robert Zollweg, chair of the Libbey House Foundation board of directors.  “We are especially pleased that the funds will allow us to make the Libbey House open to all regardless of ability.”  The funds will provide 60 percent of the cost of the project, with matching funds and in-kind services coming from the Libbey House Foundation and The Ability Center.The house, designed by noted Toledo architect David Stine, was built for Edward Drummond Libbey, founder of Toledo’s glass industry, and his wife, Florence Scott Libbey, in 1895.  It is located at 2008 Scottwod in Toledo’s historic Old West End, adjacent to the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion.

The project to make the home accessible is a celebration of the shared history of the Libbey House and The Ability Center, said Barbara Floyd, grant administrator on the project and Libbey House Foundation board member.  “Most people are not aware that from 1964 to 1980, the Libbey House was the site of Opportunity Kindergarten, a school for disabled children that was operated by the Toledo Society for Crippled Children, which is now The Ability Center.  Unfortunately, the ramp that provided access to the home was not ADA compliant, and was dismantled in 2010.  Since that time, the house has not been open to those with mobility issues.”

Floyd said the Libbey House Foundation board wanted to return accessibility to the home, and the grant funding will allow the board to construct a 50-foot ramp on the north side of the house.  The ramp will not be evident from either the Scottwood or Woodruff sides of the house, thus maintaining the historical character of the home.

“The ramp will echo the architectural details of the Libbey House,” said Steve Shrake, Toledo architect, Libbey House board member, and project director.  “It will utilize turned balustrades similar to those on the front porch of the home and is in keeping with the standards governing both the remodeling of a National Historic Landmark and those required by the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility.”  The ADA-restroom will be constructed on the first floor in an existing room and will not impact the historical integrity of the interior of the home, Shrake added.

Tim Harrington, executive director of The Ability Center of Toledo, was one of those who attended Opportunity Kindergarten, as did four other members of The Ability Center’s board.  “We are excited that we will get a chance to access the home again, and remember our history in the Libbey House,” Harrington said.  The renovations will be completed this summer in time for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of The Ability Center in 2020.  It will also help The Ability Center to achieve its goal of making Toledo the most disability-friendly city in the country.

Ash Lemons, associate director for housing and advocacy at The Ability Center, assisted Shrake in the development of plans for the project.  The Ability Center will also provide significant assistance by supplying their team of experienced carpenters who will build the ramp.

“Opportunity Kindergarten was a unique school for Toledo’s children with disabilities,” Floyd said.  She also noted that Toledo was where the “Crippled Children’s Movement” began in 1920 with the establishment of the Toledo Society for Crippled Children, and later the Ohio Society for Crippled Children.  These organizations, started by members of the Toledo Rotary, evolved into an international society to assist children with disabilities by providing medical assistance and educational opportunities.

“We are thrilled that with this grant from the Ohio History Fund this significant part of Toledo’s history will be honored again,” Floyd added.