History of Collingwood Presbyterian Church
Based in the Old West End of Toledo and having been around for well over 100 years,
Collingwood maintains a strong sense of heritage and the church maintains a thorough
record of its past.
Collingwood was organized in 1893. The Old West End was then known as the
fashionable seventh ward and many Presbyterians were in this new area around
Ashland and Collingwood near Madison and Jefferson avenues.
A Sunday School was started at 2012 Ashland Ave. Furniture was loaned by sister
churches, First Presbyterian and Westminster. Since a lot at Collingwood and Prescott
had already been purchased for $8,820, it was natural to select the name Collingwood
Avenue Presbyterian Church, which was changed after Collingwood Ave. became
In the early days, the church had an image of formality and of business and social
status. It had been built in what was then the best part of the city. It had prominent
members, including the son and grandson of a president of the United States (Hayes).
No Easter Parade picture in the Sunday rotogravure section of the old Toledo Times
seemed complete without the portico of Collingwood in the background.
At one time Collingwood was known as the “Avenue of the Churches”. Virtually every main line protestant denomination plus two Jewish synagogues and the Roman Catholic Holy Rosary Cathedral were located on or adjacent to Collingwood Avenue. Now, of the original religious institutions, the only ones still remaining are Holy Rosary Cathedral, First Congregational Church and Collingwood Presbyterian Church.
The church is in the Gothic style. It occupies the entire frontage on Collingwood Avenue
between Floyd and Prescott Streets. The Sanctuary seats approximately 600. It was
built in 1904 at a cost of $90,257 and had its first service on January 4, 1905.
The sanctuary of Collingwood is typical of the turn-of -the century square plan, based
historically on the Byzantine equal-armed cross. Collingwood is the only church in
Toledo in which the dome, arched vaults and pendentives of the Byzantine style are
suggested. The rusticated stonework of the exterior and the great rose windows are
Romanesque. The east, west and north rose windows are part of the original sanctuary.
The south rose was obscured by the old parish house roof, and was exposed when the
new Community House was built. The firm which installed the original rose windows
was able to duplicate the design, but could not match their pre-war glass, which had
been imported from Europe. The lower windows are gifts and memorials. The
quatrefoils on the front walls are of gold leaf on masonite, and were designed and
executed by Toledo artist Dan Woodward. The four in the chancel represent the Hand of
God, the Law, the Burning Heart and the Holy Spirit descending as a Dove. Those on
the angle walls show the shields, or symbols, of the Twelve Apostles. The ceiling is
made of 240ct Belgian Linen. Linen was used because the lightweight material would
not put strain on the roof or structure.
In 1955 the sanctuary underwent a complete remodeling which included repair of the narthex, installation of a new organ, pulpit, reading lectern, and communion table, and installation of a center aisle and rearrangement of the pews. Up to this time there had been a solid block of pews in the center of the sanctuary, with an aisle on either side and then an arrow row of pews with an aisle at each outside wall.
The Balcony and Pipe Organ
The Holtcamp organ was installed in 1955. It has 61 ranks, or about 3,500 pipes
ranging from the size of a pencil to some large enough for a man to step inside. The
pipe organ was originally in the front and to the right. Since there was scant room for a
choir, a paid octet provided music for a number of years. The original organ, gift of the Ladies Society, had seen its day, and a replacement was mandatory. Following a year of study by a committee and considerable debate, some of it not too harmonious for Presbyterians (it is said that faint echoes persist to this very day), it was decided to purchase another pipe organ despite some insistence that one of those new-fangled electronic instruments be considered. It was determined that it be installed in the balcony where the acoustical effect would be superior. There is currently a need for the restoration of and repairs to the organ, although it remains functional.
The Community House
The attached Community House was built in 1926 at a cost of $420,000. This area has
three floors, with 25 classrooms, a library, chapel, administrative offices, lounges, a full
gymnasium with shower rooms attached and choir rehearsal facilities. A dining room at
ground level seats up to 800 people with a fully equipped kitchen attached. Lincoln Hall
Theatre has a full stage and seats approximately 750. The pastor at the time, Dr. R Lincoln Long formally called it the Community House because it “is not only intended for the service of our congregation but of the entire community…”
The Old Choir Room / New Youth Group Room
This lovely area is now the stomping grounds of the Collingwood Youth Group. It has
great views of the downtown Toledo skyline, including the stack for the former steam
plant. Many years ago there were steam lines below the sidewalk on the east side of
Located on the south end of the Community House, Lincoln Hall was named for Dr. R. Lincoln Long, Collingwood’s senior pastor from 1919 through
1952, a period of 33 years. The hall has seen many performances from the Toledo Symphony to the Village Player rendition of “Plain and Fancy” directed by John Lithgow’s father, to church plays and cabarets. The Lincoln Hall stage area was damaged badly by fire in 1950. It occurred just as Sunday School was about to begin, but no one was injured. The blaze was blamed on faulty wiring.
The lovely chapel is used for memorial and healing services, weddings, as well as
classrooms for the children. There are even little doors in each classroom door so that
the attendance cards could be passed to the Sunday School supervisor.