IMG_7207.jpg
2 gradient.png

About

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 Street, Secor Road, Central Avenue, and Douglas Road, but there are newer platted sections west of Secor Road.  

 

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.

Old Orchard News B Ad.tiff

Toledo News Bee Old Orchard Ad from the 1920s. 

History

The neighborhood derives its name from the large orchards that existed on the land prior to being platted in the 1920s. Old Orchard was developed by the B.C. Bowen Co. (one of the founders of the former 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.

Toledo Plat Book 1913

Interesting Stuff

  • The first plat of Old Orchard was recorded December 16, 1921

  • Secor Road was formerly known as “Toledo-Ann Arbor Road”

  • Old Orchard’s 1st extension was platted and approved in 1926 when Albert and Minnie Haughton sold their property for development.

  • Originally there was a large apple orchard at Densmore and Bancroft, and peach orchard near Pemberton and Middlesex. That’s how “Old Orchard” came to be.  

  • Deed restrictions recorded 10/26/26 included “minimum cost any residence excluding interior decorations and chandeliers shall be $7500.”

  • Every street in Old Orchard has a name from places in England.  In an old article from the Toledo Blade, Badger Brown was quoted that Old Orchard had an English feel to it and he chose street names accordingly. 

  • Most of the slate for the roofs of the older OO homes came from Wales.

  • English Tudor style homes were traditionally built in England around schools for faculty to live in.  “Tudor” and “Tutor” became interchanged in naming these homes with exposed timbers.

  • In the 1940s, during WW II, Old Orchard residents did their part by using the vacant lots as “victory gardens.”  Due to the lack of building materials, construction of new homes drew to a halt at that time.  

  • During the same period, there was gasoline rationing so many residents were taking the Community Traction buses to and from work and school.  The “Old Orchard” bus ran every 3 minutes during the morning and evening rush hours.  There were always people waiting on corners.  

  • 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.

Do you you know an interesting fact about Old Orchard? Send us an email and let us know.