Center for Archival Collections

Archival Chronicle

December 2008: Volume 27, Number 3

Feature: Happy Birthday, Bowling Green! | Archival Chronicle Index | CAC Homepage

A Bowling Green Album: 175 Years and Going Strong

This issue of the Archival Chronicle Gallery features images documenting the history of Bowling Green, Ohio, celebrating its 175th Anniversary in 2008. It is a shortened version of an anniversary year presentation, given by CAC Director Steve Charter and Documents Conservator Eric Honneffer at the Wood County Public Library. Information in the captions is taken from Eric Honneffer's book, Bowling Green, published by Arcadia Press in 2004.

Pioneer Settlement Becomes a Crystal City

Snow Flake Lime Company Lime KilnsSnow Flake Lime Company's Lime Kiln. Lime kilns and quarries were a familiar sight in and around the growing county seat in the 1880s. Lime was integral to the building trade. George Hodgson, pictured second from right, operated a lime kiln in Bowling Green on Thurstin and East Court Streets, along the railroad tracks, near the present day BGSU heating plant.

Source: CAC/BGSU
August 4, 1887--Bowling Green's "Greatest Fire" near Oak Street.  In the midst of boom times' prosperity, the village's business district was hit by a fire on a hot day in August 1887.  The conflagration decimated a quarter of the downtown on the east side of Main Street, from Thurstin's store, north to Oak Street and back on Court Street.  The heat even broke the plate glass windows of the Exchange Bank across Main Street.  Damage was estimated at $40,000, with only $17,250 worth insured.  A second fire struck about one year later, leveling some 18 businesses.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Fire ruins, August 4, 1887
BGHS Class, February 1892School Class, February 16, 1892. This Bowling Green school photograph was captured out in the cold on the steps leading into the High School Building.

Source: CAC/BGSU

20th Century BG

Gramm-Logan Motor CompanyGramm-Logan Motor Company. (500 Lehman Avenue)  Lehman Avenue's proximity to the railroad tracks on the southeast side of Bowling Green made it the perfect location for industrial development, starting in earnest with the glass companies.  The Leonard Stove and Range Company, home of the "Ideal Star" steel range (1905-1908) would be replaced by Gramm-Logan (1908-1910), which briefly manufactured trucks, taxis, and automobiles  It relocated to Lima, Ohio, and was replaced on this site by the Bowling Green Motor Car Company.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
The Modern Truck Company specialized in delivery service, seen here on east Wooster Street carrying crates to a customer.  The business was briefly located at 500 Lehman Avenue.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
The Modern Truck delivery service
Main Buildings at Bowling Green State University, 1920sNormal College Buildings.  By the 1920s, plans were underway for campus expansion.  The college's main buildings appear here from left to right:  Science (now called Mosely Hall), Administration (now University Hall), and the Training School (now called Hanna Hall).  The two women's dormitories and a powerhouse are not pictured.  A library (McFall Center) and a gymnasium were realized by the late 1920s and an athletic field by the late 1930s.  In the college's first 15 years, the student body increased form 304 to 950.

Souce:  CAC/BGSU
Downtown Bowling Green.  This view shows the east side of Main Street, looking south from Wooster Street. The building at the left corner of the photograph is the home of Atlantic & Pacific Tea (the A&P grocery store). The building was originally constructed in 1896 for the Millikin Hotel.

Source: CAC/BGSU
South Main Street, Bowling Green, ca. 1930s
Bishop Brothers, 280 S. Main StreetBishop Brothers, 280 South Main Street, featured many amenities we expect from contemporary gas stations and car dealerships. The gas pumps are located under the brick portico, and there is a service area, seen to the right of the photograph.  This building later became the location of Thayer Chevrolet, a business that continues to prosper in its new location on North Main Street.

Source:  CAC/BGSU

Bowling Green at 100

Centennial Parade.  In 1933 at the depths of the Great Depression, Bowling Green celebrated its 100th anniversary.  Local historian Charles Sumner Van Tassel wrote The First 100 Years of Bowling Green, Ohio, the first comprehensive history of the city. The Normal School had become Bowling Green State College in 1929, but soon after, the state's financial condition grew so serious that the General Assembly considered closing the school and using the facilities for other purposes.  Thanks to the efforts of faculty, staff, students, and the community at large, BGSU remained open.  The Centennial Parade, pictured here and below, shows one way in which the community bands together to make the city a pleasant place to live.

Source: CAC/BGSU 
Bowling Green 100th Anniversary Parade, 1933
Bowling Green 100th Anniversary Parade, 1933Bowling Green Marches On.  The parade was a lavish spectacle, with floats representing civic and university organizations, as well as businesses and historical events.

Source: CAC/BGSU
Tomatoland Festival.  Without traditional county fairs, citizens were eager to find reasons for summer and fall festivals to take their place.  By 1939, the city was able to mark its second annual Tomatoland Festival.  Floats and bands again moved along Main Street, acknowledging the importance of agriculture (and the Heinz Plant) to the local economy.  A longer essay on the Tomatoland Festival can be found in the August 2006 Archival Chronicle.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Tomatoland Parade, 1939

The War Years

Bricker Field. The Wood County Airport epitomizes cooperation between the city, county, and university.  It was dedicated in 1942 and named after Ohio Governor John W. Bricker.  The 120-acre airport expanded the size of BGSU and was its economic salvation during World War II.  Enrollment in 1940-1941 was 1,600, but had fallen to 842 in the fall of 1943-1944, thanks to enlistments and the draft.  Military personnel used the university for training and helped make up the difference.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Bricker Field, used for training pilots during WW II
Bricker Field, training planesBricker Field.  Flying was still a very new technology during the 1930s when the airport was constructed. In addition to providing a facility for local pilots, Bricker Field was used for the Civilian Pilot Training Program, around 1939.  Even at that early time, the government was keeping an eye on a future need for trained pilots for national defense.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
World War II Training Facility.  Servicemen quickly became a common sight on campus.  With the coming of the war, the military contracted with colleges and universities around the country to serve as training facilities for service personnel.  Bowling Green State University was the home of Navy V-5 and V-12 programs which trained fighter pilots, seen here.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Bricker Field, training planes
Daybrook Hydraulic Corp.Daybrook Hyrdaulic Corporation Plant.  Herbert O. Day, chief engineer, and A. F. Brooker, sales manager at St. Paul Hydraulic Hoist Company, left their jobs and in 1939 opened their own business in Bowling Green at the former Crystal City Glass Company factory on Lehman Avenue.  They made hoists and dump truck bodies.  During World War II, they introduced a "pontoon bridge" and a laying crane for the Army and Navy.  After the war, their new lines would be distributed nationwide.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Lehman Avenue Facility, Daybrook Hydraulic Corporation Offices.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Daybrook Hydraulic Corp.
Daybrook Hydraulic Corp. assisted the war effortDaybrook Pontoon Bridge.  Former Bowling Green Mayor Alva Bachman was instrumental in helping Daybrook get established.  He apparently commented that "General George Patton used one of these pontoon bridges to cross the Rhine River and surprise the Germans."

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Packaging K-Rations.  Military training was not the area's only contribution to the war effort.  Here, students are seen helping to package K-Rations for troops in the field.  Many women, students and local citizens as well, were able to pick up employment at area factories.  Even with this "new" workforce, there was a great need for workers.  Bowling Green was also the site of a German Prisoner of War Camp, which provided harvest workers for local farmers and at the Heinz Plant.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
BGSU students packaging K-rations

Peace & Prosperity

Slim's Hi-Speed Gasoline, 455 South Main Street.  After the rationing restrictions of the war years, Americans fell in love with their cars again.  In the background at the left of this photograph is South Main Elementary School.

Source: CAC/BGSU
Slim's Hi-Speed Station, 455 S. Main Street, BG
The Sandwich Kitchen, 115 E. Wooster Street, BGThe Sandwich Kitchen, 115 East Wooster Street.  One of several cafes in the downtown business district, this family-run restaurant displays the poster for the 7th War Bond Drive, as well as prices for popular breakfasts and lunches.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Dixie Food Town, 1045 North Main.  Grocery stores had been located in the downtown business district from early days.  With greater transportation available, grocery stores began to become supermarkets with large parking lots.  "Dixie" in the name refers to Highway 25, the "Dixie Highway" (a predecessor to US Interstate 75), which was a vital north-south transportation link in the eastern United States.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Dixie Food Town, 1045 N. Main, BG
Cooks News Stand, 100 W. Wooster StreetCook's News Stand, 100 West Wooster. This newsstand was located at the very center of downtown, at the historic "Four Corners" intersection.  Selling a variety of newspapers, magazines, and tobacco products, the business operated for many years from a long but shallow building attached to the old Exchange Bank building.  When the business closed, the addition was removed, leaving a wider sidewalk and no sign of its passing.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Wood County Hospital. The city's hospital opened in 1951 with 54 beds.  Between 1954 and today, many changes and additions have expanded the facility into an indispensable health care center for the entire county.  The active Hospital Guild has contributed enormously to the medical center's success.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Wood County Hospital Room
Windmill at Urschel PondUrschel Pond.  The old stone quarry on Clough Street became Kelly Swimming Pool in the 1920s thanks to the Women's Club.  In the mid-1930s, the "pool" and land were sold to Bertis H. Urschel, founder of Urshel Engineering Company, or machine works, which produced a variety of  parts for government contracts, during and after World War II.  Urschel is remembered for the distinctive apartment building he had constructed in the shape of a windmill, overlooking the quarry pond.  The windmill was originally built to hide a pump.

Source:  CAC/BGSU

A Growing City during Turbulent Times

Students protesting the Kent State Shootings, 1970Student march downtown, 1970William Jerome speaking to students gathered after the 1970 Kent State shootings.
Students March, May 6, 1970.  Just days after the Kent State Shootings, about 8,000 students and Bowling Green citizens led a procession on Easter Wooster Street.  The view at right shows BGSU President William Jerome addressing the students who had gathered to hear him on the central campus.  Thanks to his leadership and the students' calm response, BGSU was able to remain open while other campuses around the state had to suspend operations.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Cain's Potato Chips, Interior of packaging areaCain's Potato Chip Company, Inc. was started in 1936 in the garage at the Cain homestead on Lehman Avenue, with only one delivery truck and a total of six employees.  Known for its distinctive "marcelled", or wavy-cut style of chip, Cain's developed a loyal customer base.  A new facility (at right) was built in 1953 on Napoleon Road.  When it was sold in 1977, the company boasted a fleet of 50 delivery trucks.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Cain's Potato Chips, exterior
Rogers Drugs, 135 N. Main Street, BGRogers Drugs, 135 North Main Street.  The locally-owned family business was founded in 1864 and remained at this location for well over 100 years.

Source:  CAC/BGSU

Blizzard of 1978.
 A BGSU student searches for his car, parked somewhere on this campus lot.  The late January blizzard cut off power and isolated this section of the state for four days.  More information about this natural disaster can be found in the December 2002 Archival Chronicle.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Blizzard of 1978, student searching for car

Bowling Green Celebrates Today

Champion citizen.  Bowling Green native and 1984 Olympic gold medal winner in figure skating Scott Hamilton overcame life-threatening health problems through his skating.  He frequently returns to his hometown to encourage young athletes and to host skating programs.  Here he is shown with a check for money raised locally for the Dorothy Hamilton Memorial Fund, named for his mother, who lost her life to cancer.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Black Swamp Arts FestivalBlack Swamp Arts Festival. In September each year, Bowling Green hosts the Black Swamp Arts Festival and shows off the historic downtown as well as the Main Street revitalization project that several years ago brought new sidewalks, lamp posts, benches, planters, and a new luster to the old boom town.  The event draws over 40,000 visitors to the city of over 29,000 for the three-day art show and musical performance event.  It also showcases local and university talent.

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Marathon Special Products.  This Bowling Green business is an ISO 9002 certified manufacturer of electrical products, including power blocks and fuse holders.  This, and many other employers in the Bowling Green area show a community willing to move into all areas of future technology

Source:  CAC/BGSU
Marathon Special Products
National Tractor Pulling Championship.  In 1962 the Wood County Tractor Pullers were chartered and held their first event.  By 1967, the National Tractor Pulling Championship had arrived with a $4,500 purse and 10,000 spectators.  The event is held annually at the Wood County Fairgrounds after the fair.  It is the largest of its kind in the United States.  Today, the event can draw over 60,000 visitors to the city, and the purse is valued at $200,000.

Source:  CAC/BGSU - B. Stephens

Feature: Happy Birthday, Bowling Green! | Archival Chronicle Index | CAC Homepage