Connecting to the Past for the Future: A Look Back at the Toledo Steam Plant

Built in 1896, the Toledo Edison Steam Plant has been a key part of the downtown Toledo skyline as well as its rich history. ProMedica is excited to continue this history and make the Steam Plant – as well as the adjacent Key Bank Building – its home.

Here are few interesting facts you may not have known about the Steam Plant and its role in Toledo’s history:

  • The Water Street Station (the original name for the Toledo Steam Plant) was built in 1896 by The Toledo Traction Company to supply electricity to downtown trolley cars. The Toledo Traction Company became Toledo Railways and Light Company in 1901, the predecessor to Toledo Edison.
  • The plant was designed by nationally renowned architect Daniel H. Burnham. Burnham is famous for designing American landmarks like the Flatiron Building in New York City and Union Station in Washington, D.C., as well as the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Burnham incorporated the Romanesque Revival style into his design of the Steam Plant, which can be seen in the building’s large arched windows.
  • Steam Plant working conditions were harsh at the beginning of the 20th century.  Operators worked 12-hourshifts, seven days a week, with just one day off per month and two weeks of vacation each year.
  • The growing demand for electricity for such new inventions as the washing machine, electric iron and incandescent light bulb, as well as the rapidly expanding industrial community, required multiple expansions to the building in 1910. In 1930, the plant was converted to produce steam power to heat downtown office buildings, which it continued to do until its closing in 1985.

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On December 26, 27 and January 3, ProMedica will open a section of the Steam Plant for public tours of the historic building. Part of the Toledo Walleye’s Winterfest celebration, visitors will get a closer look at the existing building, view archived photos and learn more about ProMedica’s proposed future plans for the building. Tours run from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  For other Winterfest activities please visit the Winterfest website.

Information and photographs provided courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, obtained from http://images2.toledolibrary.org/, and the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections.

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