(Toledo, OH) St. John is a quiet North Toledo street with well-maintained bungalows, which makes the abandoned house at 925 St. John all the more conspicuous.
The grass is already past the knees of a tall man, and renegade shrubs and weeds rise above the overgrown lawn. My pants were completely soaked on the rainy morning in which I traipsed through the small savannah to take a few photographs of the property.
“No one has been out to cut the grass since last summer,” said Ida Alexander, who lives across the street from the house. “The neighbors sometimes get frustrated and cut it themselves, but they shouldn’t have to.”
The two-bedroom hose, which was built in 1891, was boarded up by the city several years ago, said Alexander.
“It’s a shame, because it was always a nice little house,” she said, adding that she has lived on St. John for over forty years. “I think it has been six years since someone actually lived in the house.”
Despite its period of vacancy the house has held up fairly well. One window is missing from the second floor, and a missing gutter has rotted some wood on the side of the house, but the house could make “somebody a nice little place,” said Alexander.
The outstanding taxes on the house are $2470.52, and the city of Toledo is in foreclosure proceedings on the building, which is located near Stickney and East Central. The house is also accompanied by a small 10’x130’ slice of vacant land at 923 St. John.
It appears that speculators have been the house’s most recent owners. The house has been bought and sold five times in the past ten years, with sales prices ranging from $4,500 to $43,000.
In the middle of the transactions is a name familiar to Toledoans: Scot Ulmer, president of the Westhaven Group, which is currently under investigation by the state of Ohio for securities fraud. Attempts to contact Westhaven were unsuccessful.
Alexander was unaware of the number of owners that the house has had.
“Once the old man who lived there and owned it died, there were only a couple of renters,” she said. “And there it sits, waiting for someone to live there.”
This article is part of a regular feature I write for the Toledo Free Press called the ABLE Squad - "Abandoned Buildings Looking for Entrepreneurs."