THE WILKE BUILDING – 129 Columbus Ave.
According to an article from the Sandusky Register of January 30, 1986, the Wilke building was originally part of the West House hotel. The article said that retail stores were on the street level, while hotel rooms occupied the upper floors.
When the West House was demolished, they saved the Wilke building. On the right is the State theater and on the left, newer buildings.
The Wilke building is the tall section on the far left of the photo.
In the early 1900s Carl H. Wilke purchased the building, and added a brick facade. (You can still see the surname Wilke at the top of the building.) The building has had a number of tenants through the years. In the mid-1910s, Carl F. and John M. Holzaepfel sold sporting goods and photography supplies at their store at 129 Columbus Avenue.
An article in the April 2, 1920 issue of the Star Journal reported that the Lake Shore Electric would soon occupy the Wilke building. The headline stated that the new home for the Lake Shore Electric would be the “finest on system,” as the stations in Cleveland and Toledo were not nearly as grand as Sandusky’s new station.
After the Lake Shore Electric interurban ceased operations in the late 1930s, 129 Columbus Avenue became the bus station for the Lake Shore Coach Lines and, for a time, the Greyhound Bus Lines. During World War II, a U.S.O. Service Center opened in the rear portion of the Lake Shore Coach station. Having started in 1941, the primary mission of the United Service Organization was giving social support to America’s troops. In contrast to the regimentation of military life, the U.S.O. worked to create a warm homelike atmosphere.
Many different businesses have been in operation in the Wilke building.
In October of 1954, the Byer Brothers opened a new store further up the street at 129 Columbus Avenue. The new location was triple the floor space of its previous location.
Eventually Marv Byer became the sole proprietor of the business, which became known as Marv Byer Clothiers; he and his wife purchased the property in 1967. In 1986 he was honored for his work in restoring the downtown building. For years, the company sponsored a show called Sunday Morning Jazz on a local radio station. By 2000, the By Design store occupied the site. The Fabulous Female Boutique currently occupies the space.