Franklin: Ice Cream, Airport, Park Mall

We read in The Blade this week that the Monroe/Talmadge/Franklin Park Mall area is suffering from something it’s not used to: a lot of for rent signs.

Having grown up in the area, we’d have to agree it never was like that (on the other hand, was it ever Toledo’s Rodeo Drive?). From Orchard Drugs on the south end of Talmadge to Par 3 on the north end, there was retail and office space crammed into every section of the neighborhood. My doctor was on Talmadge (dentist, too, in the same building!).

But in the center of it all was the Franklin Park Mall, with a JCPenney, Hudson’s and Lamson’s. The mall is pushing fifty years old now, and its presence completely transformed the area.

Pre-war, when it was Washington Township, one of the first businesses out that way (“Drive out Monroe Street a short distance beyond Sylvania Avenue. Plenty of parking space.”) was the Franklin Creamery Company, which ran this ad July 12, 1940, inviting everyone to come on out and have a look around.

The plant, located at 5015 Monroe Street, closed in 1964 according to this article, when Franklin was sold to Cincinnati’s United Dairy Farmers (a chain that dominates the convenience store business there even today).

But in between, times were pretty good, according to this 1952 article:

The Franklin Ice Cream Co. started in business in an abandoned blacksmith shop at 2216 Franklin Ave. on January 13, 1922, as the Franklin Creamery Co., wholesaling and retailing butter. …

The company has grown in 30 years fron a struggling infant to a $500,000 company. The Toledo plant, at 5015 Monroe St., is located on 110 acres…the firm manufactures and sells in excess of 900,000 gallons of ice cream a year through 22 stores in Toledo, Maumee, Cleveland and Monroe.

The story also notes that the company was named not after Franklin Ave. but after Benjamin Franklin, whose business ideals had long been admired by company founder Irving C. Reynolds.

Also enlightening is this 1979 article, which reported the Franklin Ice Cream name was returning.

(the) Monroe Street Store and plant, near the site of the Kroger Store in the shopping center, was torn down when construction began on the $30 million mall in 1969. Thousands of Toledoans also recall the mall site as the old Franklin Airport and as an area that held a post-World War II collection of small amusement parks and commercial ventures.

The airport, which was described in a 1952 article announcing its closing, included “three sod runways, a T-hangar with space for eight planes and three cinder block hangars which will house 32 ships.”

In 2002, when Blade writer Homer Brickey went out to find people who knew of the significance of the mall’s name,  which opened July 22, 1971, he found few.

“It probably will always be Franklin Park Mall [to many shoppers]” said one. “I am still one of those people who call [the King Bridge] the Cherry Street Bridge.”

One comment

  1. John from Perrysburg

    Haven’t lived in Ohio for many years, and it’s fun reading these history items. Following up the 1964 Blade link, I saw that United Dairy Farmers was owned by Carl and Robert Lindner. The name sounded familiar, and Wikipedia revealed why.

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