Toledo was a new city in a new state in a new country in the mid 1800’s. Developed and settled later than many surrounding areas due to the northwest territory being off limits to settlement in the 1700’s, Toledo’s founding was decades behind towns in southern Ohio and Indiana. When Toledo incorporated in the early 1800’s, it became a boomtown for industry and immigrants. Toledo was perfectly situated on Lake Erie and the Maumee River to be exploited not only as a port for local farmers, but for other industries to take hold, including shipping, glassworks, and metal works. This explosion onto the national scene included a great influx of workers into Toledo. A large portion of those workers were new immigrants, along side of second and third generation European immigrants and a wave of first generation of freed slaves. Like many new cities popping up across the Midwest and America, the new citizens held fast onto their country of origins and largely settled into neighborhoods with their fellow countrymen. In homes where second languages were still spoken at home and culture and food was from the “old world” or “deep south,” faith followed the communities. In this way, the Catholic Church and eventually the Diocese of Toledo entered into the community of early Toledo. Originally, the City of Toledo was a part of the Cincinnati Diocese until the Toledo Diocese was created by the Church in 1910. The original Catholic Churches in the Toledo area were largely identified by their ethnic communities. There were Greek, Polish, Italian, German, Irish, Hungarian and others who identified with the communities they served. In the mid 1800’s through the early 1900’s, Toledo stretched out to Broadway Avenue on the east side of the Maumee River, to Central Avenue in the north, to Detroit Avenue in the west, and to about Walbridge Park in the south. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the face of the community began to change and people began to move further out into what would become greater Toledo.
It was around this time that the Diocese of Toledo began expanding at an ever increasing rate. Many new parishes were founded between the late 1880’s and the early 1900’s. The diocese decided in 1915 it needed to expand and create two new parishes to serve the large Catholic population settling in Toledo. Two new parishes were planned: St. John the Baptist in Point Place and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in South Toledo. These new parishes began to serve the first wave of movement outside of the city center – later to be named urban flight – to unsettled areas of Toledo. At the time, OLPH was at the edge of town. Along with this early version of urban flight that began in the Diocese of Toledo in the late 1890’s, the first parishes that were not identified with the “old world” ethnic communities were formed. OLPH would be one of the first Toledo Churches one could identify as a “melting pot” in the diocese. OLPH was not Polish, or Irish, or Italian; it was simply a south end parish, serving all Catholics in the newly forming neighborhood. While one can still see some old world traditions at OLPH, OLPH did not identify with any one type of community and that tradition continues to the time of OLPH’s 100th anniversary. In this history of the first 100 years of OLPH, I hope to underline the uniqueness of this and many other traditions OLPH has had over the last 100 years. From its founding on River Road and the Delaware Creek, to its relocation to Central Grove Avenue and property bordering the filled in Miami and Erie canal, OLPH is one of the very few parishes that has physically moved its entire location. This history will cover how OLPH has grown and transitioned from its founding during the end of World War I and the dawn of prohibition all the way to the New Millennium and the dawn of the 21st Century. This account will do its best to cover not only pastors, principals, and numbers, but will include the people and community of OLPH. This story aims to follow the OLPH community and its members over the first 100 years and hopes to shed light on our community as the bible tells us “be a light to the whole world.”