The architecture of The Toledo Club has its roots in Italy. The period of the late Renaissance influenced the design also known as Georgian, and the building's style should be referred to as late Georgian Revival. It's characterized by strict adherence to the details of its predecessors. The Toledo Club is as fine an example of this style as one can find in the United States.
The firm of Mills, Rhines, Bellman and Nordoff designed the present building. Toledo Club member and architect Charles H. Stark, III, of Bauer Stark and Lashbrook (successor of Mills, Rhines, et al.) wrote an article about the clubhouse architecture which can be found here.
A few objects in the art collection are truly museum pieces. Exactly how The Toledo Club came by most of its paintings and other works of art leaves much to conjecture, because little was documented prior to the 1970s. There are however, a few facts known regarding a couple of examples.
In the early 1900s, member Edmund Osthaus (1858-1928), the noted Toledo painter of hunting dogs, offered to sell the Club one of his paintings for $1500. The trustees gave due consideration to the proposal and the minutes of the Club indicate the following counter: “Moved that the offer of Osthaus to sell his picture to the Club for $1500 be accepted subject to the following conditions: (1) that Osthaus shall make a contribution of $100; (2) that Osthaus shall accept in part payment, prepayment of dues at the rate of $80 per year for five years; (3) payment of the balance of the purchase price in four annual installments of $250 each.” The motion passed and the painting has been on display since.
It would be a fair guess that many of the other paintings were likely given to the Club by some early generous members.
It is known that George Stevens, the first director of the Toledo Museum of Art, was very helpful in directing donations to the Club. He was also in a position to have various works displayed, on loan to the Club, as well as other businesses and institutions. The practice was eventually discontinued.
Probably the most controversial painting is Lady With Red Rose by H. Rondel (born 1857, Avignon, died 1919, Paris) currently at the entrance to the Main Dining Room. Occasionally there is a comment or letter on the appropriateness of this very decorative portrayal. Despite the criticisms, it is deemed worthy of its place in the club’s collection.
The Main Dining Room hosts portraits of the men who shaped Toledo and The Toledo Club.
David Ross Locke (1854-1925) was the man who proposed the foundation of the Draconian Club in 1882 and became its first president. The Draconian Club became The Toledo Club in 1889.
Edward Drummond Libbey (1854-1925) was a prominent business man in Toledo, founder of The Libbey Glass Company and Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Company, which later became the Libbey-Owens-Ford Company. He and his wife founded the Toledo Museum of Art in 1901 and in 1905, her family homestead was deeded to the museum.
Michael Joseph Owens (1859-1923), with Libbey, organized the Owens Bottle Company for the purpose of developing and operating the invention which he had patented, specifically, the new automatic bottle machine.
John North Willys (1873-1935) was president and founder of the Willys-Overland Company. For a brief time, Willys-Overland was the second largest automaker in the United States, behind Ford.
Morrison Remick Waite (1816-1888) had a law firm in Toledo. In 1862, Waite was nominated for congress. He became internationally known in 1871, through his appointment by President Grant to the Tribunal of Arbitration at Geneva, Switzerland, to resolve the Civil War claims of direct and collateral damage against Britain, know as the "Alabama Claims." His contribution to the resolution led to his being appointed seventh chief justice by President Grant to the United States Supreme Court.
William Edward Levis (1890-1962) became vice president and general manager of Owens-Illinois Glass Company in 1929, when Owens Bottle Company and Illinois Glass Company merged. He played a key part in the development of Toledo Express Airport.
The Red Room currently displays two beautiful paintings lending to the special ambience within:
On one side, When Sylvia Walks by Louis Betts (1873-1961) is the romantic young woman confidently striding toward the viewer. It pays homage to the subject's grace and beauty. It was gifted to The Toledo Club by Arthur J. Secor in May, 1929.
On the other side, Lady in Red, confident, yet provocative, her sidelong glance full of promise, is attributed to Walter Dean Goldbeck (American, 1882-1925).
Somewhat recently, the Club has been fortunate to be able to add substantially to the collection with the purchase of various art items. An acquisition of particular interest and historical significance is Grandmother’s First Visit by Wilder Darling (born 1854, Sandusky, Ohio died 1933, Toledo), who came to the city in 1902, and had a studio for many years at 213 ½ Erie Street. The painting was purchased by the Club in 1984, from the University of Toledo Library, which had discovered it in its stacks along with other older paintings badly in need of repair. The rendering was dark and dirty and was sent to the Detroit Institute of Arts for extensive restoration. During the process, it was x-rayed to determine if something might be under the painting. It was learned that a section was added on the right side of the original canvas, presumably to fit a frame that Darling wanted to use.
Another interesting discovery was the fact that this painting was exhibited at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris; the same year that the Eiffel Tower was completed and the same year that The Toledo Club was incorporated. In 1989, the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts contacted the Club to ask if this painting could be loaned for an important traveling exhibit of American artists whose paintings were shown at the exhibition, 100 years prior. Paintings by Mr. Darling are in the Toledo Museum of Art permanent collection and others throughout the world.
Other exquisite pictures include The Rocky Coast by John Ross Key (1837-1920) of Baltimore; Winter Rigor by John Carlson; Death Valley at Sunrise by Ferdinand Harvey Lungren (born 1857, Toledo); Winter Scene by Henry Morviller; Seascape by Thomas Parkhurst; Harlem River Bridge by Max Kuene; and Street Scene in Winter by William Smith of Toledo.
Dominating the Main Lobby is The Battle of Lake Erie, September 19, 1913 by Carlton Theodore Chapman (1860-1925). Born in New London, Ohio, his work is represented in numerous private collections and museums, including the Toledo Museum of Art.
"Death Valley at Sunrise" by Ferdinand Harvey Lungren
Two works of Ruskin Stone, born in Fostoria, Ohio, are found in the motor entrance. He painted portraits and landscapes and had many solo exhibitions. He had displays at The Toledo Museum of Art, in National Bank Exhibits, Port of Toledo shows and numerous Toledo Area Artists Exhibits.
The Club also has some fine examples of Audubon prints and contemporary lithographs by Joseph Raffael.
"Wild Turkey" by Audubon
The Red Room has a lighted cabinet with a collection of glass, including a sampling of signed Libbey Glass Company, wheel engraved cut glass (c. 1880-1905), a late 1940s Edwin Fuerst vase made by Libbey and several glass sculptures by Toledo glass artist, Dominic Labino (1910-1987).