About Old Orchard
The Old Orchard Neighborhood is an active and historic community with over 1200 households in an area of less than a square mile. Look around and you will see kids playing with other kids outside, people walking their dogs, riding bikes, gardening, and much more. Old Orchard is roughly bordered by Bancroft St, Secor Rd, Central Ave, and Douglas Rd, but there are parts that cross Secor Rd and Central Ave.
Old Orchard is bisected from east to west by Kenwood Boulevard, a landscaped boulevard. Kenwood is fronted by many stately homes which are generally larger than most in the neighborhood. Many homes in Old Orchard are brick and in the English Tudor style, further relating to the English street names. This architectural style, popular in the 1920s, fits well with the Gothic styled University of Toledo which sits on its southern edge and was built at about the same time (University Hall was constructed in 1931).
Streets in Old Orchard are platted in a simple grid pattern with several ending with a small triangular grassy island at the terminus. These triangular islands nicely compliment the boulevard on Kenwood. Additional islands once existed at most of the Bancroft intersections but were removed at some point.
The neighborhood derives its name from the large orchards that existed on the land prior to being developed in the 1920s. It was developed by the B.C. Bowen Co. (one of the founders of the present day Welles-Bowen Realty Company) who is credited with selecting the Old Orchard name. Accounts tell of a large apple orchard near the corner of Densmore and Bancroft and a peach orchard near Pemberton and Middlesex. Mr. Bowen is also credited with selecting the English-sounding street names, although no information exists as to why. One potential explanation is that Mr. Bowen had also developed the Westmoreland neighborhood (about 1 mile east of Old Orchard) around 1917 and selected those street names from areas in Virginia (Mount Vernon, Richmond, Potomac), as the rolling terrain reminded him of that part of the country. This strategy of using quaint street names probably carried over to his next project, Old Orchard.
One of Old Orchard's more famous residents was Millie Benson (1905 - 2002) who was one of the original ghost writers of the Nancy Drew Mystery books penned under the name Carolyn Keene. She wrote 23 of the original 30 books first published. In 2001, Benson received a Special Edgar Award for her contributions to the Nancy Drew series. She was also a columnist for the Toledo Blade and the Toledo Times.
Why are there so many forsythia bushes around the neighborhood? The tradition was that a forsythia bush was planted in the tree lawn after a new home was built.
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