Dedication of the parlor at the North Baltimore Area Historical Museum, in honor of Len L. Trout Sr., was held on July 28.
His grandson, Gregory L. Trout of El Dorado Hills, CA, was present for the occasion. Also attending was a group of Greg’s friends and classmates, NBOAHS Board members, Library Board members, a former Trout Furniture employee, and several children of former employees.
A plaque with the following information has been placed in the parlor:
“The Len L. Trout, Sr. Parlor. This room is dedicated through the generosity of Gregory L. Trout in honor of Len L. Trout, Sr., Founder of the Trout Furniture Store, 1912-1971.”
“The North Baltimore Historical Society expresses our thanks for the donation, January 30, 2018.”
A group of former Trout employees and children of employees gathered at the L. L. Trout, Sr. Parlor dedication. L-R: June Winner, Louie McGuire (son of Mick McGuire), Cathy Robinson (daughter of Kay Smith Andrews), Greg Trout, Rick Mays (son of Barbara Mays), Karen Hemminger (daughter of Edythe Merrill
Len L. Trout Sr., Founder of Trout Furniture Store
Len L. Trout Sr. was born in Van Buren in 1879. His grandfather, John Trout, was one of the founders of the town in 1833. Len chose not to enter farming as an occupation but decided to join his older brother George in opening a furniture store on N. Main in Findlay. They were very successful and Len decided in 1903 to open another store, this time in North Baltimore. His parents bought a farm north of the Wixom Quarry, and Len and his wife Dolly moved into their large new home at 515 N. Main Street (now Smith-Crates Funeral Home).
Len was a civic leader and served eight terms on the city council. He turned over operations of the store to his son, Len Trout, Jr. in 1950. Len Sr. passed away in 1962. Many community leaders, friends, and family attended his funeral, which was held in his first home in N.B. (then the Paden Funeral Home). This house was also where his second son, Len Trout Jr., was born in 1916.
The Story of L.L. Trout Furniture
The L.L. Trout Furniture Store began in 1900 in Findlay, Ohio, as George and Len Trout started Trout Brothers Furniture. They opened their store on N. Main near the river, right across the street from another furniture store owned by their aunt. Trout Brothers moved to a larger location across from Findlay City Hall (311 S. Main). In 1903 Len and Dolly decided to strike out on their own and move to the booming town of N. Baltimore and open the second Trout Furniture store.
The first store was on the east side of Main, south of Broadway. But, in 1908 Len saw an opportunity to buy the M.E. Dirk furniture store near City Hall. Jacob Dirk was one of the founders of N.B., and the west side of N. Main and Broadway was the site of some of the first buildings in N.B.
Eventually, after several more expansions, the entire block to City Hall became the Trout Block. Then, in 1940 with the acquisition of Stouffers Hardware store, Trouts with its various warehouses had become the largest retail business in N.B. past or present. It was to furnish nearly all the homes in N.B. and the surrounding areas. Many residents still have pieces of furniture from the store or small cedar chests which were given as graduation gifts.
After WW II Len Sr. decided it was time to turn over the reins of the business to his second son, Len Jr., who had returned from the Navy in 1945. The business and his house at 134 S. Main, now the Ralph Wolfe house, was sold to Len Jr. where his family lived until 1959.
Eventually all good things must come to an end. After the boom years before WW I and then after WW II, retail business began a slow decline. Len Jr. sold the business in 1959 and moved to Bryan, Ohio, where he took over a larger, more modern store, Trout Wayside Furniture. The Trout Furniture Store continued through most of the 1970’s in spite of the major destructive fire in December 1971 which leveled the entire Trout store and later took with it the classic Town Hall Building. So now what was once the beginning and center of retail in North Baltimore that continued for nearly 100 years is empty, waiting for a new start and another entrepreneur in the spirit of the Trouts and the proud history of North Baltimore, Ohio.
This history was written for the North Baltimore Historical Society by its grateful supporter, Gregory L. Trout, grandson of Len L. Trout Sr. and former employee of Trout Furniture (window washer, delivery helper, plant waterer, and mail stamper.)