Monday, April 14, 2014

Remarkable Lake County - Notable Homes & Landmarks

Ohio's smallest county with the most history officially began on March 6, 1840.  Eighteen municipalities, five townships and some other entities comprise our current county.  Some municipalities like Mentor, Willoughby, Painesville, Madison, Perry and Wickliffe are well traveled.  Others communities such as Grand River, Timberlake, Waite Hill and LeRoy are not as well known or common by-ways.  Today I challenge our readers to match the municipality, city or township with one of its historical landmarks.  Do you know their histories?  All have been featured in Local Lore by Max over the years.

1.  Dr. John Mathews' House                                  a.  located on Little Mountain Road in  Kirtland Hills
2.  Uri Seeley House                                               b.  Civil War General and RR contractor lived at 436 Casement in Painesville
3.  Claud Foster House                                           c.  Inventor lived at 30333 Lake Shore Blvd residence in Willowick
4.  Harry Coulby Mansion                                      d.  noted abolitionist resided at 969 RiversideDrive in Painesville
5.  Edward W. Moore Estate                                   e.  Eleanore Roosevelt visited this Kirtland home now part of a college campus
6.  Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Estate                              f.  built in 1825 by J. Goldsmith, home to 14 keepers in its 100 year history
7.  Lake Shore & Michigan Southern RR Depot   g.  shipping magnate and Wickliffe Mayor lived this 28730 Ridge Road address
8.  Lake Shore & Michigan Southern RR Depot / Freight
                                                                               h.  located on Railroad Street in Painesville, it began in 1893 and was in use thru'71
9.  Grand River Lighthouse at Grandon               
                                                                               i.  8445 Station Street in Mentor
10.  Casement House                                             j.  built in 1829 on North State St., it was moved to 309 W. Washington St. on  the                                                                                                                               Lake Erie College campus

key:  1. J   2. D   3. C   4. G   5. E   6. A   7. H   8. I   9. F   10. B

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Here is Ohio's Lake County, 2014 edition - A Perfect Fit for Your Ideal Bookshelf

In 1964 longtime Mentorite Jack Daniels along with Janice and Barbara Cooper edited a local history book titled 'Here is Lake County'.  Their book became one of the definitive sources for all things Lake County as it applied to past his-her stories.  Chapters in the book shared the stories of such notable men at work such as J.W. Penfield of Willoughby, inventor A.E. Vrooman of Madison and Painesville, and Jesse Storrs of Painesville Township whose nursery acumen led to our county's nursery heights in the mid- 1900's.  Daniels detailed the 1840 beginnings of the Lake County Fair and Fairgrounds when it was located on Bank Street in Painesville.  The Millionaire Social Clubs on Little Mountain Road and Native American roots of Willoughby, Eastlake, and Fairport are documented. The Civil War impact on Lake County and the resources of Lake Erie and its shoreline all found their way into this most complete history book.  The stories of the people who tamed the Western Reserve wilderness, overcame tragedy or made an impact on the industrial-agricultural-social legacies that permeate our 174 year plus story are once again ready for the newest generation of readers.

'Here is Ohio's Lake County - a historical journey...Then, Now and Into the 21st Century is the title of the newest edition of Lake County, Ohio history.  Updated, detailed with new research, and including photos from the LCHS collection, this 2014 release is an engaging narrative that shares the story of Ohio's smallest county with the most history.

Copies of this 2014 release ($25.99) are now available for purchase at the Lake County Historical Society located at 415 Riverside Drive in Painesville.  For more information call 440-639-2945 or visit

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lake County Mini-Profiles -- Laura Mae Corrigan the Anomalous

Known as the "Dollar Queen", "American Angel", or "Queen of Malaprops" Laura Mae Corrigan's life story was certainly one of the Gilded Ages and Lake County's better ones.  Her story needs two back stories before we move foward in her place in 20th c. history.  First, Laura Mae Whitlock was born in Wisconsin and had societal aspirations from a young age.  Her early career as a waitress, clerk, and telephone operator provided no clue to her infamous and seemingly anomalous ways.  Second, her chance meeting with Capt. James Corrigan, the inventor of process manufacturing techniques for mineral and machine oils whose career path intersected John D. Rockefeller in Cleveland and later in Wickliffe, resulted in the rest of her story.

1907 was the pivotal year in the Laura Mae Corrigan story.  Miss Whitlock secured a position as a societal reporter for a Chicago newspaper that year.  An event allows her to meet Capt. Corrigan, now a widower as a result of a 1900 yachting tragedy.  Whitlock soon marries a Duncan R. MacMartin, a socialite and their marriage grants her access to her dream - that of social / high society entry.  A second meeting in 1913 at a party with Jimmy Corrigan, the playboy successor to Capt. James Corrigan's fortunes leads to mistress rumblings and divorce proceedings.  She marries Jimmy in 1916 and her ambitions spiral from there.  Thought of as a 'fortune hunter' by some and shunned by Cleveland's society members, Laura endures a rocky beginning.  However by 1925 Laura Mae Corrigan wrangles control of the Corrigan steel industry assets from Price McKinney, sells the 400 acre Corrigan estate 'Nagirroc' in Wickliffe and flees to NYC. 

Now in real Downton Abbey fashion, Corrigan aligns herself as a party planner for Alice Keppel, the former mistress of King Edward VII.  British social parties ensued.  Her star and fame are on the rise.  Playboy Jimmy dies of a heart attack in 1928 and four women are left to inherit the fortunes of the Corrigan steel business now desired by Cleveland Cliffs.  Three armored trucks deliver the funds that will guarantee her $800K annually henceforth.  Corrigan maintains her European socialite status with Britain's decaying aristocracy thru the start of WWII.  Novel parties, costumed social gatherings and absurd acts continue to mark the Corrigan gatherings.  While in Paris at the onset of German occupation, Laura Mae remains behind and allies with the French refugees in Vichy.  Using her enormous wealth to feed and support French partisans, Laura Mae continues on this path thru 1942.  Despite having her wealth frozen by the US government, she sells her jewelry and personal effects to support the cause.  In a unique twist of history, the items in her personal collection are sold to Herman Goering of the Nazi Party, hence the US intervention.  Laura Mae continued on this path of resistance assistance thru 1942 before all fortunes were exhausted.

She returned to America, never reclaiming her past social standings or glory.  Before her death, she donated $5K annually to the Cleveland Fund -gave $25K to the Cleveland Museum of Art to purchase great works by Cezanne and others- and absorbed the purchase and feeding costs for 14 animals to the Cleveland Zoo.  She passed of cancer in 1948.  Mrs. Laura M. Corrigan was laid to rest at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Remarkable Lake County: US Route 20

In 1925 the Joint Board of Interstate Highways designated with a '0' a major east-west transcontinental road.  That route was US 20.  Officially declared a federal highway in 1926, US Route 20 became the most important east-west terminus.  Although not continuous, it is the longest road in the US spanning nearly 3365 miles total.  US Route 20 has its origins in Boston, Massachusetts and ends in Newport, Oregon.  It passes thru three major American cities - Boston, Cleveland, and Chicago.  Other well known names on this historic route include Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo NY, and Erie Pennsylvania.

US Route 20 remains mostly intact to this day.  In Ohio, one can start east of Conneaut and travel the roadway to Indiana.  Route 20 is known locally as Mentor Avenue from Painesville to Willoughby, Euclid Avenue into downtown Cleveland, Clifton Blvd into the west side and Center Ridge Road on the far west side of N.E. Ohio.  Other historic names associated with US Route 20 include the Yellowstone Trail, Old Mass Pike, Buffalo Stage Road, and Lake Avenue in the greater Chicago area.

A book release, the third in a series occurred in September 2013.  The title of Michael J. Till's most recent book is 'Along Ohio's Historic Route 20'.  The author has traveled the entire route and gathered pictorial images thru vintage postcards and archival images to record this important piece of Ohio transportation history.  It would be hard to find anyone residing in Lake County who has never driven on Route 20 either behind the wheel or as a passenger.  Till's book pays tribute to another hidden gem in our county's history and is well worth the cost as an addition to your ideal bookshelf.

source-    excerpts from Michael J. Till's three books on US Route 20

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wickliffe's Storied Family Names

The 'Gilded Age' was an era in American history that for the most part spanned the years 1870-1929.  It marked a period of history that saw unprecedented wealth, rapid industrialization, and a social era far above the previous norms.  The 'Gilded Age' of Cleveland is generally said to have begun in 1875 and ended around 1929.  While Cleveland's Gilded Age rivaled any other city of its day and its Millionaire's Row equaled any other of the time, one city in Lake County is oft forgotten in these conversations.  Wickliffe, founded in 1916 was home to some of the era's biggest names.  The estates of Rockefeller, Corrigan, Squire, Coulby and McKinney still merit mention today as you travel the roads of Wickliffe and Lake County.  Below is but a brief synopsis of these storied Wickliffe families.

Franklin 'Frank' Rockefeller -  Wickliffe High School and the BOE building (former Rockefeller carriage house) are part of the farm property once called home by Franklin 'Frank' Rockefeller.  Most famous as a part of his brothers Standard Oil Company, a disagreement led him to leave the company and pursue other business advantures.  Rockefeller did partner with fellow Wickliffe resident James Corrigan on a mine property near Lake Superior.

Harry C. Coulby - 'Coulallenby' was started in 1911 and completed in 1913.  A terra cottage exterior, wrought iron fence, stone pillars, round foyer, and Tiffany skylight were just a few features of this 54 acre family estate.  Coulby achieved his fortunes on the lakes.  Forming the Interlake Shipping Company in the early 1900's, part of the former Pickands, Mather Company,est. 1883 - Coulby could view his ships passing by from his second floor bedroom windows.  Today the estate serves as Wickliffe's City Hall, a position Coulby himself held.  The grounds are part of the city recreation center and parks.

Fergus B. Squire - An executive of Standard Oil Company and former mayor of Wickliffe, Squire is most remembered for a 525 acre property in Willoughby Hills known as Squire's Castle.  The gatehouse and its story are well known- often mentioned tales by locals and need not be repeated here.  Squire left public life in 1909 and called his Wickliffe estate Cobblestone Garth.  Modified over the years, the stately home with a distinctive lighthouse structure still remains for passer-bys.

Price MCKinney - Eleven acres on the northwest corner of Rt. 84 and the Bishop Road spur on Euclid Avenue were the former site of this notable estate.  Today Borromeo Seminary and Telshe Yeshiva occupy the site.  Mc Kinney was a partner with James Corrigan in the 'steel mill' industry.  Upon Corrigan's death in 1908, McKinney took over the business.  Internal strife led to him losing control of the company to Corrigan's son.  The steel mill in time became Republic Steel.  McKinney committed suicide in 1925.

James Corrigan -  Corrigan and his wife Laura Mae led interesting lives in the 'Gilded Age'.  Laura Mae will be featured in a separate blog in 2014.  Corrigan partnered with F. Rockefeller in a mining adventure.  Corrigan was also business partners with McKinney in the steel industry of the day.  The Corrigan estate is now the site of Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe.

As you travel the roadways of Lake County, if you find yourself on Rt. 84 in Wickliffe there is much to see from our 'Gilded Age.'

Monday, January 20, 2014

Painesville's Parks for all Seasons

Painesville is the fourth largest of Lake County's twenty-three municipalities.  Steeped in early American history and home to many important industries over the decades, it is a walk in the parks that highlights today's blog entry.  While Lake Metroparks undoubtedly holds the most hiking experiences in the county, Painesville's twelve parks offer a blend of experiences not to be overlooked.  Three of the parks offer opportunities for all seasons while another four make the tag 'Fish Painesville' a 365 day possibility.

Kiwanis Recreation Park - 301 Latimore Street
At seventy-five acres it is Painesville's largest park.  Shelters, a fishing pond, river access and walking paths welcome public visitors seven days a week.  Ball diamonds and a stadium field complex provide athletic team access for city school teams, Lake Erie College and locally sponsored recreation programs.

Veteran's Park - 1 Liberty Street
Painesville's best known and most visible park is located in the heart of downtown.  Built in 1800 in the style of New England town squares, numerous park benches and a multi-use gazebo anchor the park landscape.  Unique programming at the park throughout the year bring food festivals, car rallies, concert series and more to a diverse downtown community.

Charter Oak Park - 367 Mentor Avenue
Located across from Lake Erie College, the park was renovated and rededicated in 2003.  It is the site of the 'Charter Oak' an oak tree transplanted from Connecticut.  The park also is the final resting spot of General Edward Paine- the city founder

Fish Painesville
Kiwanis Park is one site available to anglers.  Three other access sites in Painesville proper include Windjammer Ct. and Richmond Road, Beaty Landing and Grand River Landing, the last two cared for by Lake Metroparks.

Marine Park, Ella Shaw Park, named for a former councilwomen, Rotary Park, Trailwood Park, Homeworth Park, Morse Avenue, State Street Park, Huntington Park and Lathrop Park, a Lubrizol Corporation adopted site comprise the other park holdings for the City of Painesville.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Embrace Winter's Wonders --- Hike the Trails less Traveled in 2014

As I returned this afternoon from assisting my two Lake Metroparks colleagues, Leigh and Becky from setting snowshoe trails at the Environmental Learning Center property, it occurred to me that more people need to embrace the outdoors during the winter months.  To hike in the forests and over 50 miles of county trails is truly a breath-taking experience.  Snow blankets trails that canvas nature's woodlands and all its diversity.  The solitude is a welcome opportunity to embrace all that competes for your sensory awareness.  Quite simply my challenge to you in the winter of  2014 is this - Bring a friend, bring a camera or smartphone, park your vehicle at a park of your choosing and start your adventure through snow covered hemlock-lined ravines, mature woodlands, or scenic waterfalls that may be found throughout Lake County.  Below is but a sampling of the great winter hike opportunities that await your indulgence.

Gully Brook Valley Trail - Willoughby
Founded in 1916 by the Burroughs Nature Club, this trail spans more than 100 years of history.  Farmed in the mid-1900's, a large beech tree still bears the carved initials LOL on it from the old fur trapping route era.  Not even the 1950's construction of I-90 that split the old trapping route can spoil your scenic views.

Pete's Pond Preserve /  Carriage Lane Trail  - Wickliffe
Wickliffe's history may be best remembered for some of the Millionaire's row mansions that dotted the euclid Avenue corridor during Cleveland's Gilded Age, yet Pete's Pond on Rockefeller Drive offers a rare combination of forest, edge and fresh water preserves for all to enjoy.  Pete's Pond history dates back to 1947-1951 when Pete inhabited the property and was a local known to all.

Penitentiary Glen Reservation - Kirtland
Free gorge hikes on January 12 and February 2 highlight a challenging off trail hike that explores the deep ravines, towering icicles, waterfalls and snow-covered hemlocks that dot the landscape seldom travelled by residents today.  The glen got its name from the gorges that reminded locals of prison walls.  PG may be best remembered as the Halle Family summer farm / estate circa 1912.  If gorge hikes are too difficut for you, more than 2.5 miles of managable trails surround the former Halle Stable that is the visitor center.  Look for Meadow Loop, Red Fox Loop and connector trails as you arrive.

Chapin Forest & Pine Lodge Ski Center - Kirtland
In 1949 Frederick Chapin saved this Gildersleeve Mountain area acreage from suburban sprawl.  The Quarry Pond area was instrumental in providing building material for many of Lake County's historic landmarks including the Kirtland Temple (1833).  On the Hobart road side of the forest is a ski center managed by Lake Metroparks that offers snowshoeing and cross country skiing opportunities as yet another means of fighting off cabin fever.  Lighted trails are another unique hiking opportunity available to the public until 11pm nightly.

Environmental Learning Center - Concord Twp.
Big Creek and Jordan Creek span this Alexander Road property. One of Lake Metroparks newer acquisitions, the ELC offers a Yurt, educational programs, a planetarium, and now dedicated trails for snowshoeing and hiking.  A Winter Wonders after Dark on Friday January 31st will be held from 7-10pm.  This program is a unique way to introduce your family to winter's offerings.

Other great hikes, snowshoeing programs and such may be found at Skok Meadow, Girdled Road Reservation, Chagrin River Park-Riverwood Trail, Veteran's Park-Cardinal Loop Trail, and Lakeshore Reservation-All Peoples Trail.  Hike the trails less traveled, it will make all the difference!