The History & Significance of the Facility
The Collingwood Arts Center is the former convent for the Ursuline Order of the Sacred Heart, and later housed the Mary Manse College and St. Ursula Academy. It is a registered historical site. Architect E. O. Fallis designed the building, a "Flemish Gothic" structure with a mix of Gothic and Romanesque styles. Fallis' other architectural credits include the Mansion View Inn, The Bartley House, and the Valentine Theatre, as well as numerous residential and institutional buildings in the Toledo area. The structure was completed and ready for occupancy on September 6, 1905.
The theatre follows the same architectural style with Neo-Baroque embellishments in two crowns over the box seats at stage left and right. The theatre seats 600 and is used by local and national theatre groups, musicians, and other performances of a community nature. Its accoustics are uniquely suited to chamber music, piano recitals, stage productions, and other small-group performances. The theatre was named after Lois M. Nelson, whose tireless work and vision made the Collingwood Arts Center what it is today.
The Gerber House is the white painted-brick home in front of the building that faces Collingwood Boulevard. The Gerber House was built in 1872 before the completion of Collingwood Boulevard. Christian Gerber, a local merchant, spared no expense in the construction of his dream home. From the elegant parlors with 15 foot high ceilings and solid walnut doors to the fixtures on the fireplace mantels, the Gerber House shows the craftsmanship of another era. Cost over-runs doubled the initial projected cost of the house, and in 1875 Gerber declared bankruptcy as a result of over extended credit and poor economic conditions. The Ketcham and Laskey families took possession of the house in later years. Today, the parlors remain open to the public for art exhibitions, small conferences and meetings, and other functions. The second and third floor rooms are rented to artist residents of the Collingwood Arts Center.
Contrary to the opinions of various paranormal enthusiasts, very few incidents of paranormal activity have been witnessed by the residents. Although "orbs" (said to be a deceased person's energy or life force) can be captured in photographs quite routinely, the mysterious sounds and visions of ghosts reported on various websites are rarely, if ever, credibly documented. If such paranormal activity exists, it merely adds to the unique flavor and ambience of one of the largest and oldest structures in Toledo's historic Old West End.
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