The Dollar House Put-in-Bay Opens to Public
The Dollar house Put-in-Bay was built by one of Put-in-Bay’s first known entrepreneurs Valentine Dollar
The family moved to Put-in-Bay at the request of Jose DeRivera. DeRivera was the founder of Put-in-Bay who’s namesake graces the downtown DeRivera Park and to whom a Put-in-Bay Tree Carving made from the damaged trunk of a tree that arrived before he did. DeRivera had developed much of the island including roads, a school, and a church. It was at his request that Valentine opened the islands first General Store. That store was located where the Mossbacks & Fishbowl restaurants stand present day.
Dollar was an enterprising man who saw many other opportunities at Put-in-Bay. he opened the only public dock on the island at that time and collected a fee each time it was used. An Ice business soon followed where ice was harvested from the frozen sLake Erie and stored in a specially constructed building called an ice house. The ice was kept insulated by using sawdust from the local mill. Ice would stay frozen for up to three years and was then sold in the summer months, He operated the island only post office from his mercantile store as well. He was an investor in the famous Victory hotel, which was one of many Put-in-Bay Hotels to have burnt to the ground over the years.
The Dollar House Put-in-Bay was home to the family of 6 daughters. Olga Dollar would sneak out of the house at night to go dancing at the Put-in-Bay Colonial Hotel which later burnt to the ground in a tragic fire years later. Valentine Dollar refused to permit his daughters to marry. Fanny Dollar who was the oldest married a Put-in-Bay boy in protest against her father’s wishes. Their sister Daisy despised living in the home and subsequently moved into the house next door in revolt.
The Valentine Dollar family was a very private family who likely did not want his wealth and stature known. Diaries and family photos along with many of their records were either burned or destroyed leaving very little for historians to learn from. What little information that has been able to be assembled is from portraits of family members. Little else is know about the very privileged life the family enjoyed at Put-in-Bay.
Former Mayor McCann and his family purchased the home several years ago with the intent of restoring the home to its former glory including period correct furniture and fixtures. The Victorian home has opened for tours where visitors can learn about island life in the latter half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. They as many islanders wanted to preserve the history of Put-in-Bay where possible.
The easily noticeable yellow and gray house sits across from the Boardwalk and Topsy Turvey Restaurants on Bayview Avenue. The home was constructed in two sections with one half being red brick and the other from wood. The house featured a small farm behind the home with the original horse stalls still standing there today.
The lavish interior of the home was an indication of his wealth. Ornate wood carvings named fretwork hung from the ceiling in one of the parlors. A wooden desk that belonged to the Valentine Dollar remains in the same room today. In the upstairs area, a gilded mirror standing at more than six feet tall remains next to a very rare portrait of Valentine Dollar himself.
The buyers attempted to restore as much of the original Dollar House Put-in-Bay as possible and decorated the room as they were when the family lived there. Murals depicting battle scenes from the war of 1812 as well as other island scenes from the period are also on display. Olga Dollar lived in the house until her death in 1974.
Shortly thereafter the famed home was sold to the Heidenreich family who constructed the yellow gazeebo which remains today. Additional information on the home can be seen at the nearby Lake Erie Islands Historical Society which played a role in the restoration of the home to its current state. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the Dollar House Put-in-Bay for tours of the historical home and the Put-in-Bay Winery.