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100-year-old stone wall in Sylvania being moved because of construction project

The Toledo Memorial Park wall took about two years to build
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - If you drive into Sylvania on Monroe Street or Harroun Road, you may have noticed the beautiful old stone wall in front of Toledo Memorial Park. Part of it is being moved because of a construction project. But there are plenty of steps being taken to make sure every piece is put back in place.

The limestone wall has been a part of the landscape along Monroe Street for the last century.

“We consider the stone wall the gateway to Sylvania,” said Jeff Clegg, President and CEO of Toledo Memorial Park.

It was built using stone from a local creek, most of it was hauled in by a cemetery worker and his team of horses.

“Every day he would pick up a wagon full of rocks, and drop them off for the masons to chisel the stones and set the wall,” Clegg said. “He lived about three miles from here in Michigan. The team of horses also worked on things like building the roads here in the park.”

Clegg says it was a painstaking process and it took about two years to finish the project.

The wall on the west side of the gates to the park is not affected. Taking down the wall on the east side of the cemetery is necessary because of a widening project on Monroe Street. Small sections of it have already been removed for utility work.

“The day we started dismantling the wall, the phones started ringing,” Clegg says. “People were afraid we were going to actually lose the wall. We have assured everyone that we are doing everything we can to save as many of the original stones as possible.”

Clegg said they’re going to great lengths to put everything back. Once the stones are removed they’re put on pallets, wrapped in plastic, and stored in a building on the property.

“We have hired a contractor that specializes in historical stonework, and restoring stone buildings,” he said.

Not everything can be saved, but the goal is to make it hard to tell the difference between the old and the new.

“Some of the stone actually breaks as crews are dismantling the wall, so we will be finding limestone to match the original stone here,” says Clegg. “Once everything is back together, we hope no one will actually know we had to bring in some stone. The dismantling process is the most important part of saving as much stone as we can.”

Even the roses along the front of the wall are being meticulously cared for until they can go back.

“They were brought in from England, and we’ve been taking care of them for about 100 years. We have taken them to a special area where they can be cared for until everything is finished.

Clegg is proud to be part of helping preserve this piece of history for the next 100 years.

“Losing the wall is not an option to us. It will be back, it may just be a couple years,” he says. “This project will give my predecessors something to talk about in 100 years. It shows the lengths we are willing to go to to maintain the beauty of the park.”

Clegg estimates the east side of the wall will have to be moved back about 30 feet, but nothing is set in stone yet. The rebuilding process cannot start until all the construction work is finished, which could be up to two years.

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