Association of Two Toledos (1931-1995)
The cities of Toledo, Ohio and Toledo, Spain first met in 1876, and a pair of swords was presented to the American delegation. These swords are now housed in the Ward M. Canaday Center at the University of Toledo.
Fifty years after that first visit, a new movement to unite the two cultures began. The Association of Two Toledos was started in the 1920s, when University of Toledo President Henry Doermann visited Spain as an affiliate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and History in Toledo, Spain. Photographs that Dr. Doermann took of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel's coat of arms inspired the University's official seal.
At the same time, Russell G.C. Brown, a Spanish teacher at Waite and DeVilbiss high schools, encouraged the students in his Spanish clubs to correspond with students studying English in Toledo, Spain. Dr. Doermann and Mr. Brown, together with the Toledoans they had met during their travels in Spain, formed the Committee on Relations with Toledo, Spain in 1931. Dr. Doermann and Mr. Brown led the organization in Ohio; while Toledo, Spain's mayor, Guillermo Perezagua, and Adoracion Comez Camarero, editor of the city's newspaper, led the organization in Spain.
In 1934, a delegation was sent from Toledo, Ohio to Toledo, Spain. "Fiesta Week" in Toledo, Ohio corresponded with the trip. The celebration included an exhibition of Spanish art at the Toledo Museum of Art. A delegation from Toledo, Spain planned to visit Ohio in 1937 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Toledo, Ohio, but the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and World War II disrupted those plans.
The Committee remained inactive until 1958. However, informal communications were maintained between Russell Brown of the American committee and Pablo Rodriguez of the Spanish committee.
In 1962, a group from Toledo, Spain finally visited Toledo, Ohio as part of the celebration of Toledo, Ohio's 125-year history. In 1965, twenty-eight area high school students visited Toledo, Spain. A scholarship encouraging inter-cultural education was established in honor of Russell Brown in the late 1960s. A similar scholarship was established in Toledo, Spain in 1971, thereby starting an exchange program. Sister Cities International recognized the Toledo, Ohio branch of the Committee for this exchange program by awarding it the Town Affiliation Award in 1962 and an award for the "best people-to-people project" for fundraising to support the scholarship program.
In 1976, a delegation from Toledo, Spain again came to Toledo, Ohio, this time to celebrate the United States bicentennial. Five years later, the two branches celebrated the 50th anniversary of their relationship with a yearlong celebration in Toledo, Ohio. In 1982, the members voted to change the name of the organization from "Committee on Relations with Toledo, Spain" to "Association of Two Toledos." That same year, the Association sponsored an exhibit of works by El Greco at the Toledo Museum of Art.
After several years of legal and political battles with Toledo Sister Cities International over the rights to represent Toledo, Ohio in its official Sister City capacity, The Association Two Toledos ended their association with Toledo, Spain and Sister Cities International in 1995.
Pamphlet for the El Greco exhibit at The Toledo Museum of Art (left); Letter: To All Toledoans - In Ohio and in Espana (center); Toledo Spain Plaza on Collingwood Ave., Toledo, Ohio (right)