|On Sunday, August 4th, 1901, Rev. H.W. Hoover, former pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, held a tent meeting on factory grounds owned by D.J. Nysewander at East Broadway and the NYC Tracks in East Toledo. A list survives of those who contributed towards the "interest on loan, sidewalks, hymn books, lights and piano tuning" for this first Industrial Heights Mission Contributors included such well known East side names as Metzger, Rideout, Tracy, and Hirzel. That list is housed at the East Toledo Family Center.
Rev. Hoover was born in 1859 in Selkirk Ontario, Canada. He attended Chicago University before becoming a Baptist minister and 1893 he married Nellie Titus. He was just past the age of 40 when he began his mission work in East Toledo that resulted in the formation of the Neighborhood House, this is where he spent the remaining years of his life. Rev. Hoover died in January 1932 at the age of 72. That Mission in the summer of 1901 lasted for several days, and the was enlarged into "settlement work" to help the many new immigrants in the area become adjusted to life in America.
By the summer of 1902, property was obtained on Vinal Street, and adjoining lots were soon added through the generosity of Alexander Black, George Metzger, Isaac Gerson, and Mr. Nysewander. Rev. Hoover and his wife Nellie moved into a large shed on the grounds until more permanent housing could be built.
The land on Vinal Street near East Broadway, which was originally a neglected dump, was quickly improved. Dirt from the streets was used as fill, grass was sown, East Side florists provided flowers, the Monroe Nurseries gave shrubs and the old dump became a thing of the past. The Ohio Neighborhood Institute, commonly called the Neighborhood House, was incorporated and the property at 1019 and 1027 Vinal Street developed rapidly. M.J Riggs, superintendent of the American Bridge Company in East Toledo, helped purchase playground equipment along with paint, fencing, and ornamental gates and posts.
A depression in 1908 led to what foreign families called the "slim winter". When no other charities were available to help the many families who were out of work, Mrs. Hoover and East Side businessmen stepped in to provide food and aid through the Neighborhood House. During the years of World War I, there was a need for classes in English for both children and adults, as more and more immigrants came to work in the factories of America. Before Oakdale School opened, school classes were held at the Neighborhood House for small children of various grades.
By 1916 the Neighborhood House had a large playground, probably the first in Toledo. It featured a merry-go-round, basket swing, may pole and even an enormous sand box that could hold many children at once. A "Sunshine House" donated by Dorothy Kimball was used to help children learn how to keep house. Tea parties were held to teach the children "proper manners" when entertaining and of course there were sports of all kinds, including boxing matches.
Attendance records from 1916 show just how important the work of the Neighborhood House was to the community. The Vinal Street playground was used by five thousand children that year and almost thirty-five hundred people attended American Citizenship classes. Over two thousand people came to other lectures while a "School of Conduct" attracted nearly twenty-seven hundred people. A satellite ministry of the Neighborhood House, the Ironville Neighborhood Settlement, called Lincoln Place, had seventy-eight hundred participants during 1916. For the year, 28,766 people were involved in all the activities of this important East Side ministry.
Read more about our history from 1917-1946