Doreen Canaday Spitzer (1914 – 2010) connected Toledo to ancient Greece and the universe. Doreen’s epic story encompasses 3,500 years and unimaginable space.
Doreen was an archaeologist, and she had a great deal to do with the reconstruction of an ancient pillared building in Athens, Greece. Her husband, Lyman Spitzer is one of the inventors of the Hubble Telescope — the first camera in outer space, reaching out to trillions of galaxies. They lived in Princeton, New Jersey where Lyman was a professor at the university, and together they raised a bright family.
Doreen is the daughter of Ward M. Canaday, one of Toledo’s great industrialists, famous for being the “Father of the Jeep.” He is the namesake to the Ward M. Canaday Gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art and the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at the University of Toledo, which are just two of his major endowments to the city and to the world.
When Doreen was 12, in 1926, Ward and Mariam Canaday built a French medieval farm house on 15 acres in Ottawa Hills. It was built to look as if it was from another time, and it was furnished from another time with ancient items gathered on a family history trip to Europe.
Ward and Mariam died in the 1970’s. In 2021, after the third owner passed away and the house was in-between owners, I had the honor of photographing the house. It was Doreen who opened the door to her world for me, through a book she wrote about her parents, and a scrapbook that she made in the 1970’s for the long-time Inlands workers.
Doreen’s interest in archaeology during her studies at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece inspired her father to devote his time and considerably skilled business efforts to the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora, a large area which is below the hill of the Acropolis in Athens. He was a trustee of the school from 1937 until he died in 1976.
It’s hard to imagine that the ancient agora (which was an active market and meeting place 2,600 years ago and the heart of ancient Athens) had not been excavated until the American School of Classical Studies set forth to do so in the late 19th and 20th Century. It was Ward Canaday’s tremendous business skills that brought forth the reconstruction of the Stoa of Attalos open-air mall, recreated as close as it could be to its original glory within only two or three years. It was made into a museum. A tree was planted, called the Toledo Tree, marking Toledo’s commitment to the restoration, in 1953.
The Canadays did a lot to help Greece. At the invitation of the Canadays, the King and Queen of Greece visited Toledo in 1953.
Tom and I took a trip to Greece. We hunted down the Toledo Tree, the first tree planted in the freshly excavated Agora. I photographed the long pillared Stoa of Attalos on one end, and the Temple of Hephaistos across the way. It was thrilling, and so profound to reflect on the story of the Canaday family’s important contribution to the excavation of the Agora and the recreation of the Stoa of Attalos.