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Be a champion

The 32,000 square foot Manor House, constructed for R.A. and Page Stranahan during the Great Depression.

It’s the mother of all metroparks in northwest Ohio. While the area is well known for its beautiful parks and recreation, none can compare to Wildwood Preserve, and that’s because none has the heart and soul that Wildwood has…a bona fide heartbeat left behind by the family who called it home. A family that arguably did more for the citizens of Toledo and northwest Ohio than any other single-family before, or after.

At the center of the 500-acre preserve stands the park’s showpiece, the 32,000 square foot Manor House, constructed for R.A. and Page Stranahan during the Great Depression. The beautiful Georgian Colonial style home was built over a two-year span, from 1936 – 1938. For more than three decades, the Manor House served as the Stranahan Family’s refuge from the world around them. And like any home, each one comes with a story. And behind every story comes a back story. No exceptions here.

Brothers F.D. Stranahan far left and R.A. Stranahan far right. Respective sons above.

For the most part, this story starts in 1910 when R.A and his brother F.D. Stranahan left their Boston roots and steered for Toledo, Ohio. Neither the Stranahans nor Toledo would ever be the same. Both would benefit greatly from the other. Back to the beginning.

R.A. and F.D. Stranahan are essentially the founders of Champion Spark Plug Company…sort of. At the very least, they ended up with the patent on the Champion name which they legally and wisely used to eventually create the largest spark plug manufacturing company in the world. But it certainly didn’t start out that way. More than 20 thousand dollars in debt, and with a company that was fledgling along at best, the brothers had little choice but to move to Toledo when Willys-Overland Motor Company offered R.A. and F.D. a contract under which Champion would become the exclusive spark plug of automobiles manufactured at Willys-Overland. The deal came with the stipulation that the Stranahans must make Toledo their home, the same city Willys-Overland called home. About two years later, Ford Motor Company, under the direction of its founder Henry Ford, offered up a similar contract. In no time, R.A. and F.D. paid off their debt and eventually made a fortune beyond their wildest dreams… read more >

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