Wildwood History: 'Land as Good as Gold'

How did Wildwood Preserve become a Metropark? It wasn’t always a public place, and it wasn’t donated. It had to be won!

A 60-minute documentary, "Wildwood: Land as Good as Gold," tells the story. You can view the video online or purchase copies on DVD for just $10 at the Visitors Center at Wildwood Preserve.

The Emmy-nominated documentary, part of the award-winning WGTE series, "Toledo Stories," shares the history of the former R.A. Stranahan estate and how it nearly became a luxury real estate development.

Historian Ted Ligibel says in the film, "Wildwood is one of those magical places where nature and culture come together…because this is part of the Oak Openings Region and…you merge that with its historical and cultural significance. For Toledo's economy it doesn't get any bigger than the Stranahans. And we knew if it was developed, all of that would be lost."

In the 1970s, after a grass roots effort to raise awareness about the Metroparks goal to purchase the estate, an injunction placed on the sale of the property to real estate developers gave Citizens for Metroparks just one chance to pass a 0.5-mil levy, which would save the property. Volunteers distributed campaign leaflets to nearly 80 percent of the homes in Lucas County. The effort succeeded. Voters approved the levy, 64,490 to 58,577.

The estate was acquired by Metroparks of the Toledo Area in 1975. Today, Wildwood Preserve's stately Manor House, surrounded by acres of natural habitat, is one of the region's most popular attractions.

Steve Pollick, writer and former outdoors editor of The Blade, sums up how many area residents feel about Wildwood Preserve: "It's the center of the Metroparks, I think. They are all wonderful, but there's only one Wildwood."

"Wildwood: Land as Good as Gold" is illustrated with rare newsreel and personal film footage, black and white, as well as full color, archival photographs and contemporary High Definition footage, capturing all four seasons in Wildwood Preserve.

Key interviews include:

Dr. Bill Mewborn, Citizens for Metroparks
Art Weber, Nature Photographer
Steve Pollick, Writer
Ted Ligibel, Historian
Charity Krueger, Environmental Educator
Kim High, Naturalist/Historic Interpreter
Scott Savage, Metroparks Commissioner
James Kimble, Former Metroparks Commissioner
Dr. Romules Durant, Toledo Public Schools Superintendent
Steve Madewell, Executive Director, Metroparks of the Toledo Area
Ernest Lewis, Running Coach
Dr. Timothy Fisher, Geologist
Florine McCain, Educator
Dr. Elliot Tramer, Environmental Sciences