A Company Town.
You’ll find this former company town along Centennial Road, north of Brint, on the western edge of Sylvania Township. Known as Medusa Gardens or Medusa Row, these sixteen Arts and Crafts-style bungalows were built in the 1920s and 1930s by the Medusa Portland Cement Company to help attract and retain top talent to run their plant located one mile south at Silica. A century later, these houses are well preserved due mainly to Medusa’s heavy-duty construction, the care and upkeep of the employees who lived here, and a father-son team who invested in the neighborhood after the Medusa plant closed.
Although the homes in Medusa Gardens share a similar style, each one is a bit different. Not surprisingly, the houses were built mostly of concrete, and they all share a stucco-like exterior. Most were created initially as a single story, but stick-built second floors were added later to make room for growing worker families. Some of the homes are small at about 700 square feet. Others are large. The “No. 1 house” at Centennial and Brint is the largest at 2,700 square feet and was reserved for the plant superintendent. It features five bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and a finished basement with a bar for entertaining. For utilities, each home was set up with electricity provided by the plant’s generator. Coal furnaces supplied the heat, and plumbing was tied into a shared septic system.
The neighborhood also shared other common amenities, including a shuffleboard court, swimming pool, baseball diamond, basketball court, and an extraordinary row of cement street lights that still illuminate the one-of-a-kind neighborhood each night. Worker families took great pride in their little company town, decorating their homes in bright lights each holiday season and enjoying a Fourth of July fireworks show each summer. Being so far out from the rest of Sylvania and sharing the common bond of family members working at the cement plant, neighborhood camaraderie was very high, and neighborhood gatherings were frequent.
Centennial Road has enjoyed a long history of quarrying. An 1875 map lists quarries on both sides of the road. According to the Sylvania Historical Society, the Sandusky Cement Company originated at Sandusky and was organized in 1892 using the trade name of Medusa. In 1929 the name was changed from Sandusky-Medusa Cement Company to Medusa Portland Cement Company. Medusa’s Silica plant was constructed in 1922 near Centennial and Sylvania Avenue in an area formerly known as Glanntown. The operation involved both quarrying and processing and had a capacity of 280,000 tons of Portland cement a year. Sadly, the plant was permanently closed on December 23, 1979.
Thankfully, Sylvania home builder Gene Paul purchased Medusa Gardens for $155,000 in 1980. He put in separate septic plumbing for each residence, renovated the interiors, and rented the homes. Today, Gene’s son Bill manages and maintains Medusa Gardens.