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The 577 FOUNDATION

"The 577 Foundation is a work of art being molded by the community."

The property goes back to the 1880's as an old farmland, while the deed to the place was actually signed by President John Quincy Adams.

In 1917, Mr. and Mrs. George F. Greenhalgh (Mrs. Greenhalgh was a niece of Edward Drummond Libbey, major benefactor of The Toledo Museum of Art) built a small farm group for a country estate on their 12 acre property in Perrysburg, Ohio. It was designed for the accommodation of hunter horses, a few cows and a small dairy. In 1935, Duane and Virginia Stranahan purchased the 12 acre property, built their home and raised a family of six children. Virginia always had an interest in gardening & agriculture. Their home was a small farm with pigs, chickens, cattle, horses & victory gardens for each of the 6 children.

Many of the riverfront estates began to sub-divide and develop. None of her 6 children wanted this place, so Virginia decided to return her property to the community in a way that will preserve the land she loves, teach stewardship & make it useful to as many people as possible. At the age of 80, she decided to practice her belief as a preservationist. "To keep a corner of Perrysburg green" and "give people a way to get down to see the Maumee river" were a couple of the reasons she gave people when they questioned why she was preserving her estate from development. "Whatever we do here, let's be educational, environmental, experimental, and let's have fun" these words were often used as she opened her grounds and facility to the public. And one of the most significant comment when people asked what we were all about was "What would you like us to do?"

Virginia has provided a place where the community can feel comfortable, try something new, provide a sense of peace, and be a part of her vision. That vision has been instilled in almost everyone she met, whether it is a 5 minute hello, a tour in her golf cart, her visit & participation in many of the classes offered, and through the staff that take the time to show people around.

Virginia Secor Stranahan died in 1997. The 577 Foundation receives operating funds through the Toledo Community Foundation, a gift endowed by Virginia. As well, in 1996, The Nature Conservancy executed a conservation easement to protect the property from future development. In 1998, the easement was transferred to a local organization, Black Swamp Conservancy, for continual monitoring.

Through the help of many community members' ideas, volunteers, part-time & full-time staff and a lot of serendipity, The 577 Foundation began to evolve & the opportunities continue to change & grow!