The Libbey House

Libbey HouseSituated on a large double lot overlooking the Toledo Museum of Art, this 10,600 square foot home was built for Toledo glass industrialist, innovator, and Museum benefactor Edward Drummond Libbey and his wife Florence Scott Libbey. Mr. Libbey is largely credited with pioneering the influx of glass industries to Toledo. He relocated the former New England Glass Company to the city in 1888. Together, with his wife Florence, the Libbeys were fashionable members of Toledo society at the turn of the 19th century. Mrs. Scott’s grandfather, Jesup Scott, was an early editor of the Toledo Blade and a Toledo ambassador and benefactor. Scott Park campus, Scott High School and Scottwood Avenue are named after him. The property where the Toledo Museum of Art sits today was donated by Mrs. Libbey for the “new” museum, as it was her father and her uncle’s former homestead estate. 

The Libbey House was completed in 1895 after two years of construction in a combination of Colonial Revival & Shingle patterned after a house in Newport, RI and designed by Toledo architect David L. Stine. Mr. Stine also designed the Lucas County Courthouse, The Toledo Club, Scott and Waite High schools, Ashland Ave. Baptist Church and many other notable Lucas County structures. His largest assignment was to design the Libbey Glass Pavilion at the 1893 Columbian World’s Fair in Chicago. It turned out to be a masterpiece of architectural ingenuity, and was the second most expensive exhibit at the Fair because it was a fully functional glass factory. That exhibit put the Libbey Glass Works on the world markets.

Some of the features of the 18-room Libbey House are a granite and shingle exterior with a large wrap-around veranda, a curved two-story bay, a full 3,500 sq. ft. basement with a hidden underground wine cellar, cherry, oak, mahogany, pine and American chestnut woodwork, 5 fireplaces, 10 window seats, 2 built-in safes, 14 closets, many of which are walk-in and have built-in dressers and several even have windows. The former servants‘ quarters on the third floor has a large central hall, 5 bedrooms, and a full bath.

In 1983, the home received a National Historic Landmark status because, “no one between 1880 and 1925 exerted greater influence on the development and direction of the glass industry in the United States than Mr. Libbey.” The citation continues, “There is no better preserved structure more closely related to The Libbey Glass Co., the former Owens Bottle Machine Co., and the Libbey-Owens Sheet Glass Co. than the founder’s home. It is a distinguished house, at once rich and tasteful. It occupies a somewhat transitional place between the irregular styles of the 1880’s and the classical revival styles... both as the home to Toledo’s most important industrialist, and as a fine example of domestic architecture, the Libbey House is significant.” This rare designation is shared with other notable structures such as: The White House, The Biltmore, Monticello, Mount Vernon, and the US Capitol.

In the later years of their lives, the Libbey’s traveled extensively. Because of this travel, they seldom opened the house, preferring to stay in the luxury of the Secor Hotel. They also owned a penthouse in New York City and a ranch in Ojai, California. Sometime after Mr. Libbey's death in 1925, Mrs. Libbey vacated the house, but it remained in the Libbey estate until her death in 1938. In the early 1960's, the Libbey House was repurposed into a Kindergarten for the Toledo Society for the Handicapped, a favored charity of the Libbeys known today as The Ability Center of Toledo.  The home was restored to residential use after 1976, when laws changed to allow for “mainstreaming disabled" students in regular schools. The Libbey House Foundation purchased the Libbey House in 2006.