||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (July 2013)|
|Motto: "at the banks of history"|
|• Mayor||Lori Brodie|
|• Total||4.88 sq mi (12.64 km2)|
|• Land||4.69 sq mi (12.15 km2)|
|• Water||0.19 sq mi (0.49 km2)|
|• Estimate (2012)||5,502|
|• Density||1,177.6/sq mi (454.7/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
Waterville is located at (41.501252, -83.727200).
The Village of Waterville, Ohio was established by John Pray (1783-1872).
Born in Rhode Island, John Pray moved to the Maumee River Valley from New York shortly after serving in the War of 1812 and completing a prospecting tour in Ohio. He built a dam across the river to Granger Island and in 1821 constructed a water-powered gristmill, the first on the lower Maumee.
In 1831, he laid out the Village of Waterville with the first 50 lots. The Columbian House, a stagecoach inn constructed by Pray in 1828 and expanded in 1837, was for years the commercial and social center of Waterville and accommodated travelers from cities such as Detroit and Cincinnati. From this building, he operated the village's post office. When Wood County was organized in 1820, Pray became a commissioner until Lucas County was formed from part of Wood in 1835. For nine years he served as Justice of the Peace in Waterville. He and his wife Lucy raised eleven children to adulthood. Around 1854, John Pray constructed his home, which today overlooks Pray Park.
Long before fur traders, soldiers and settlers came to the Maumee Valley, the river and its banks were studded with Indian villages. In 1794 General Anthony Wayne marched his legion down along the river to the site the French called Roche de Boeuf, a large island outcropping of natural limestone where the Ottawa Indians held their councils. Opposite it on the west bank Wayne constructed Fort Deposit in preparation of an encounter with the Indians, which became known as the battle of Fallen Timbers. For three days following his victory, Wayne sent his troops all along the river burning Indian settlements and cornfields. At the Treaty of Greenville in 1795 twelve tribes signed their submission and the Ohio territory opened to white settlement.
One of the first to come to this area was John Pray of Rhode Island in 1818 after serving in the War of 1812. He built a dam across the river to Granger Island and in 1821constructed a water-powered grist mill, the first on the lower Maumee and the location became known as Pray’s Falls. He later added a carding mill and sawmill. In 1831 he laid out the village of Waterville with the first 50 lots. River Road was then called Main Street. He built the Columbian House, a stagecoach inn, in 1828 and expanded it with a three-story addition in 1837 featuring a ballroom on the third floor and the town’s jail on the second. For years it was the commercial and social center of Waterville and the site of the first post office. It is recognized as one of the finest examples of Federal style architecture.
The year 1843 ushered in a new era for Waterville with the opening of the Miami and Erie Canal. Boats transported farm products, commercial goods and people from Toledo to Cincinnati, and it joined a branch of the Wabash and Erie to Indiana. In the peak year of 1851 400 boats were operating. Hotels and stores opened along its banks. The Pekin Mill was built in 1846 where the canal met Mechanic Street. The commercial section of town gradually moved to Third Street. The village was incorporated in 1882.
The canal also served as a source of entertainment for local residents. A favorite spot for ice skating from Thanksgiving to spring thaw, it was not uncommon for some to skate to Grand Rapids and back in an evening. After skating, young and old alike would gather around the big old stove at the back of Rupp’s Store to warm up. In summer the canal was a favorite spot for fishing and boating…
In 1845 the United States Government transported soldiers on the canal from Toledo to Cincinnati for the Mexican War. Until 1852 the canal was regarded as part of a great military highway between New York and New Orleans. Canal operations ceased in 1909 as railroads and automobiles became faster and cheaper means of travel. During the 1930s and 1940s the canal bed was filled in to become the Anthony Wayne Trail, U.S. Route 24. The news in 1907 that the Lima-Toledo Traction Company was planning an interurban electric train line through the village brought great excitement. Rail cars would reach Toledo from Waterville in the miraculous time of 20 minutes. The longest reinforced concrete bridge would be built at the historic site of Roche de Boeuf. In spite of assurances that the historic rock would not be desecrated in any way, it soon became apparent that a portion of the rock would be blasted away for a bridge support. The outraged citizens felt betrayed. As time went on tempers cooled and the beauty of the Roman aqueduct design became a favorite of artists and picnickers alike. For 30 years the red interurban cars raced across the bridge, one actually winning a race against an airplane in 1930, rocketing along at nearly 100 miles an hour. In 1937 the railway went out of business. Today, the grand old bridge stands as an icon of Waterville history and a testament to engineering innovation.
Like many other towns, modes of transportation have played a major role in the evolution of Waterville. With the completion of the Route 24 Bypass in the year 2012, the village landscape will be transformed again. Without truck traffic congestion, the restored historic downtown will prosper, while new commercial development will locate near the bypass. Waterville honors its colorful past, but looks toward a bright future.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,523 people, 2,065 households, and 1,566 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,177.6 inhabitants per square mile (454.7 /km2). There were 2,151 housing units at an average density of 458.6 per square mile (177.1 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.7% White, 0.5% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.0% Asian, 0.6% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.7% of the population.
There were 2,065 households of which 38.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.9% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 24.2% were non-families. 20.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.03.
The median age in the city was 41.6 years. 25.9% of residents were under the age of 18; 6.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 22.8% were from 25 to 44; 31.3% were from 45 to 64; and 13.9% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 48.1% male and 51.9% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 4,828 people, 1,726 households, and 1,322 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,378.7 people per square mile (532.6/km²). There were 1,809 housing units at an average density of 516.6 per square mile (199.6/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 97.91% White, 0.14% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.56% from other races, and 0.89% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.35% of the population.
There were 1,726 households out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.6% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.4% were non-families. 19.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the village the population was spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 5.8% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.3 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $60,000, and the median income for a family was $71,027. Males had a median income of $49,489 versus $31,638 for females. The per capita income for the village was $23,679. About 1.9% of families and 1.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.4% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.
The City of Waterville is organized as a Strong Administrator form of government. The City Administrator is the CEO of the Municipal Corporation, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the City. The mayor (currently Lorie Brodi) and City Council members (currently Barb Bruno, Tim Pedro, Mike Metzger, Jim Valtin, Ann Cherry and Jeff Marty) serve part-time.
The City has a full-time police department and public works department. The fire department is staffed by a full-time fire chief supported by a combination of part-time and volunteer fire fighters.
The Columbian House
Built in 1828, John Pray constructed a house to serve as a trading post, tavern and hostel located in Waterville, OH. It became the centerpiece of the village. The place where locals and travelers alike escaped from the harsh Summers and Winters. Constructed from black walnut beams, it quickly transformed into a third-story structure containing a prison cell (for transit prisoners), a dressmaker's shop and doctor. Like many historic buildings, this one switched hands many times over the years, becoming a restaurant between 1943 and 1993.
Despite its grandeur, many townsfolk lobbied for its destruction, believing evil lurked within. It was this evil that lured the house's most famous guest, Henry Ford in 1927, to host his Halloween party there. Legends ooze out of its ever orifice. One tale describes a sheepherder who in the 1840s checked into the Columbian House for the night and vanished. It wasn't until 30 years later the truth was revealed. On his deathbed, a farmer confessed to kidnapping and murdering the sheepherder. He relayed the location of the remains, solving the mystery. Some think this death began the house's long relationship with ghostly inhabitants.
Another story tells of a young woman in the 1880s who devised a plan to murder her cruel stepfather. She grabbed a pair of sewing shears, held them above her head and stabbed the one she believed to be her stepfather. Unfortunately, her stepbrother was the one who died from her rage. Her stepfather drug her into a room nearby, locking her inside. She remained there imprisoned for a period of time. Some think she still remains there seeking justice that's rightful hers.
Other stories talk of a drunk who was locked in the jailroom to sober up. He pounded on the door on a nightly basis seeking medical assistance until one day he was found dead in that locked room. Today, the door refuses to stay closed and if it does, sounds of banging can be heard. An attendee of an event held in the ballroom was murdered and left on a third-floor closet. It's reported you can hear music, clinking glasses and conversation in that ballroom. A young girl dubbed "Jenny" by the restaurant staff was believed to have died during the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. She's often seen waling in the bar room and playing pranks on employees.
The Columbian House has since closed waiting for someone new to rescue it from destruction. Until then, you can enjoy a 1/12-inch miniature built by Clayton "Bud" and Jean Ziegler and is displayed at the Hancock Historical Museum. The model is fully detailed down to dentures on a nightstand, a mouse in a trap and cobwebs in some of the rooms.
The Interurban Bridge
The Interurban Bridge, also known as the Ohio Electric Railroad Bridge. is a historic interurban railroad bridge built in 1908 across the Maumee River joining Lucas and Wood counties near Waterville, Ohio. It is now located in Farnsworth Metropark. One of the bridge's supports is the Roche de Boeuf, a historic Indian council rock, which was partially destroyed by the bridge construction. On June 19, 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge has been abandoned for several years. 
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- Helen Hornbeck Tanner. Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987) p. 134.
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- Interurban Bridge