Monday, September 15, 2014

Remarkable Lake County -- Mentor-opoly

The City of Mentor may have just celebrated its 50th anniversary but its history dates back to 1797 when it was first settled.  The timeline of Mentor includes many important dates and facts.  Today you will find a thoroughly incomplete and brief sampling of but ten questions.  How well do you know Mentor?

1.  In 1942 Fire Station #1 on Jackson Street was constructed.  Although it is no longer an active station, it does serve the city as an important historical landmark.  What is its current use?

2.  In 1973 the Cleveland Museum of Natural History donated 619 acres to Mentor.  What is this area now known as to community residents?

3.  In 1961 it opened and was the first of its kind in the U.S.  Name it...

4.  In 1868 it was built as the Hart Nut and Washer Company.  In 1891 it became the Mentor Knitting Mills.  What product was made there and sold nationally to retailers?

5.  In 1914 it became the second school in Mentor.  Located literally yards away from an earlier school site, the building is still intact today. Its doors closed less than a decade ago. Name the school...

6.  Gramma 'G' was directly responsible for this business district becoming a reality in the location / street?

7.  Founded in 1921 this nursery was not Mentor's first but by 1958 it was Mentor's and the Midwest's largest rose grower and supplier.  It sat near the current MHS site.  Name the nursery owner...

8.  In 1899 the Salvation Army established its first camp in the U.S. in Mentor.  What was its name?

9.  Mentor derives its name from Greek literature.  Mentor was the tutor to the son of Odysseus.  Name the son...

10.  In 1876 James A. Garfield purchased the original 1832 home of Col. Corning.  What was the name of this farm located on Mentor Avenue?  It has undergone many changes and is now a NHS presidential home.

answers-  1.  Mentor Fire Dept. Museum   2.  Mentor Marsh   3.  Great Lakes Mall   4.  underwear  5.  Center Street School   6.   Tyler Blvd. Business District  7.  Gerard K. Klyn   8.  Camp Fort Herrick    9.  Telemachus   10.  Dickey Farm

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Remarkable Lake County -- Civil War 150th Redux

The Civil War remains a signature moment in our country's history.  Passions still burn on both sides and the years have yet to temper the many moments that individually or collectively span that era in our history.  As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War begins to wind down, many programs specific to this celebration are coming to an end.  Ohio has had a long and well documented chapter in this story of America.  And it is therefore no surprise then that this story reaches into Lake County history.  The Civil War had many deep seeded causes but one of its best known chapters but least examined is that of the Underground Railroad and Ohio.  Ohio (1803) and Lake County (1840) were in the forefront of this piece of Civil War history.  In 1793 our neighbor to the north Canada outlawed slavery.  By the year 1860 it has been reported that nearly 30-40,000 slaves emigrated and nearly 40% of all slaves passed thru Ohio.  The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 only inflamed the hotbed that was Ohio for the previous 40 years.  Ben was the first fugitive slave saved in 1806 in Cleveland by Lorenzo Carter.  Samuel Butler, lighthouse keeper and Phineas Root of Fairport Harbor were known Lake County abolitionists.  Eber Howe, noted Painesville newspaper founder was another abolitionist.  James A. Paine, Seth Marshall, Uri Seeley and Hawley Drake stood tall in this pre-Civil War county history.  The Clarke brothers incident in Madison is yet another tale to be shared.  The Riders Inn, Unionville Tavern, Dock Road and the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse all had moments in this era.  It is widely agreed upon that no 'slave' was caught or detained in our county.

What is known in this era is that four principal routes led fugitive slaves toward Lake County.  It was a path that wound 17 miles NW from Akron, Cuyahoga Falls, Akron heading another 16 miles towards Chagrin Falls, followed by 20 more miles NE to Chardon and then 13 more miles into Painesville / Fairport Harbor.  Was the Underground Railroad directly responsible for this path towards freedom?  Was it more the fugitive slaves guiding their own destiny on this trek thru Ohio?  Herein reaffirms the premise that the UGRR is one of the best known stories from the Civil War Era but also the least examined.

A Lake Metroparks program offers a brief glimpse into this journey with a lantern tour hike at Liberty Creek later this month.  However one can navigate their own Liberty Line Legend UGRR tour by following the route below.  It spans Concord, Painesville, Painesville Twp and Fairport Harbor in Lake County and is an easy one tank trip.
  • Begin at Big Creek at Liberty Hollow 
  • Uri Seeley House, 969 Riverside Drive
  • Moodey House, 208 S. State St & 172 E. 5th St.
  • Judge Hitchcock site, 254 S. State St.
  • House Home, 311 S. State St.-Bank & State St.
  • Seth Marshall Home, 375 Bank St.
  • Mathews House, campus of Lake Erie College
  • Eber Howe's other home, corner of N. State & Jackson St.
  • Morley House, 231 N. State St.
  • Sidley House, 463 Casement
  • First Church Congregational, 22 Liberty St.
  • Fairport Harbor Lighthouse, 129 Second St.  (museum open seasonally)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Remarkable Lake County --- Painesville - opoly

Founded in 1840, Ohio's smallest county is perhaps the State of Ohio's largest when one combs the annals of early American history.  From its early Native American days to the era of the Western Reserve, history abounds throughout our county.  Today we recall some interesting historic tid-bits about Painesville.  Let's test your knowledge below.

1.  Founded in 1822, this newspaper ran continuously thru 1986.  The current Bureau of Employment Services occupies the original site founded by this early Western Reserve pioneer who was involved in abolitionism and early Mormonism in our county.  Name him...

2.  This family run business began in 1877 and remains today as an enduring piece of Painesville business history.  Stop by anytime for any hardware need-can you name the family business?

3.  The Utopia Theater opened in 1914 and in many ways rivaled Cleveland's Playhouse Square when it came to attractions.  Name this local son whose career in vaudeville and theater is well documented.  Hint - his annual fireworks shows were legendary!

4.  The site on Railroad Street was active from 1893-1971.  In 1997 it was donated and now serves as a museum.  Rail Fanning Days are a popular event hosted at this site.  Name it...

5.  In 1992 historic marker 6-43 was added to this site near Liberty Street marking one of the oldest recreation places in our state.  It had beginnings in 1866 and witnessed an expansion in 1905 and a merger in 1922.  Name this famous organization currently located on Mentor Avenue.

6.  Drive down Wood Street or pass by Liberty or Washington Streets and you will be in a neighborhood featuring these stately homes.  What is the official designation of the district?

7.  Three generations have guided this famous Painesville Bakery since its early days in 1898.  Name the business...

8.  Historic marker 4-43 designates this Federal Style home adn masterpiece by Jonathon Goldsmith.  currently located on Lake Erie College property - name this historic family home...

9.  Although the original high school was torn down some years ago, it was named after a local resident whose accomplishments included writing the first grammar text in 1868, serving as an educator, principal, educational union leader and college trustee.  Name this famous gentleman...

10.  This institution is the oldest one of its kind from the days of the Western Reserve.  Founded in 1856, College Hall was begun in 1857 and the first students were enrolled in 1859.  Known as Lake Erie Seminary then, today it is known as...

answers- 1. Eber Howe  2.  Joughin Hardware  3. Robert 'Bobby' Manchester  4.  Painesville Depot  5.  YMCA  6.  Mentor Avenue Historic District  7.  Gartman Bakery  8.  Mathews House  9.  Thomas A. Harvey  10.  Lake Erie College

Monday, August 18, 2014

Remarkable Lake County -- Wickliffe-opoly

As one examines the history of Lake County the familiar communities of Painesville, Willoughby, Kirtland and Mentor garner the most notoriety historically speaking.  Well one small community on the western-most edge of Lake County is a hidden gem when one recalls important facts in American history -- that city is Wickliffe.  See how much you know about Wickliffe in this ten question trivia activity.  Good Luck!

1.  Historic Marker #24-43 pays tribute to this 19th c. English immigrant whose local career began with Pickand Mathers and in time saw him rise to Czar of the Great Lakes with his company Interlake Steamships.  Name this famous Wickliffe resident.

2. The Center for Pastoral Leadership (Borromeo) on Euclid Avenue use to be the grounds of this famous steel (later Republic Steel) magnate whose partner was James Corrigan.  Name him...

3.  He served as mayor of Wickliffe, built Cobblestone Garth and is best known for a nearby castle bearing his name.  Who is this Wickliffe millionaire?

4.  In 1817 these two pioneering families arrived and settled on land near Lloyd Road and Euclid Avenue.  Name either of these first settler families...

5.  Pine Ridge Golf Course occupies the land that once was the estate of this Wickliffe millionaire and steel magnate.  His one time wife was perhaps just as famous in her time.  Name the industrialist...

6.  This Orthodox settlement was originally located in Telz, Lithuania before Nazi occupation forced its move to Wickliffe.  Name the educational institution that now occupies a former Wickliffe estate.

7.  Wickliffe High School is situated on his former estate and his carriage house is currently the BOE building.  Name this famous industrialist who resided in Wickliffe.

8.  Marker #16-43 recalls the 'Spirit of '76' and this Wickliffe personality who lived on the 1910 estate now occupied by Telshe Yeshiva.  Name the young man whose likeness became the famous drummer boy forever etched into American History lore.

9.  She was an international socialite whose 1917 marriage to a Wickliffe industrialist was the start of an unforgettable career that included WWII espionage.  Name her...

10.  He was Wickliffe's first mayor and his estate Couallenby serves as City Hall today.  Name him...

answers-  1.  Harry Coulby  2.  Price McKinney  3.  Fergus Squire   4.  William Jones or Abner C. Tarbell   5.  James Corrigan  6.  Telshe Yeshiva   7.  Frank Rockefeller   8.  Henry Kelsey Devereau
9.  Laura Mae Corrigan  10.  Harry Coulby

Monday, August 11, 2014

Acolytes Welcome --- 'Free' Fairport Harbor Lighthouse Concert & ArtFest Returns this Sunday

Calling all acolytes.  Sunday August 17 is the day for you.  Do you enjoy an afternoon concert?  Do you enjoy perusing or purchasing lighthouse themed art?  Do you want to climb 69 steps and view Lake Erie from atop a lighthouse tower?  Do you enjoy museums that share maritime histories?  If your answer is 'yes' then a visit this Sunday to 129 Second Street in downtown Fairport Harbor between 1-6pm will allow you an opportunity to experience all these possibilities.

The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum will be hosting its third annual free concert and art festival.  This major fundraiser for the Fairport Harbor Historical Society is the result of three random acts of kindness from local organizations.  First WRUW-FM 91.1 of Cleveland Ohio will be providing four free musical acts that day.  Second the amphitheater at the base of the lighthouse hill is made available for free by Lake Metroparks and its Outdoor Education Division.  Finally the Lake Humane Society will be on site to share in the event.  The FHHS will be sponsoring the art festival featuring lighthouse themed lithographs and watercolors from NE Ohio artist Bill Csatary.  Bill was a local educator from the Parma Schools as well as a reknown maritime artist whose gallery quality renderings have been featured throughout Ohio for many years.  Bill will be on hand to sign any purchase Sunday afternoon.  For the usual donation fee visitors may climb the Lighthouse Tower and visit the keepers dwelling museum from 1-6pm.

Free Music begins at 1pm...Art Festival Hours are 1-5pm (cash or check)...Lighthouse Museum hours are 1-6pm.  Music Acts are as follows-
1:00pm  Patty and the Guys, Polka Music
2:00pm  Lost State of Franklin, Americana
3:00pm  Take This Hammer, folk, country, country rock
4:00pm  The Hillbilly IDOL Trio, town & country
Bring your family, bring chairs and blankets, food available on site or bring a picnic lunch (no bottles or glass) and enjoy a Blossom-like afternoon of music and activities.

Need more information- visit or

Concert and festival attendees are asked to donate to the Humane Society Pet Food Drive

Monday, August 4, 2014

National Lighthouse Day and Lake County's Dual Beacons

‘Honoring 225 Years While Continuity Remains Elusive’ is this week's focus.  August 7th celebrates the 225th birthday of the federalization of our nation’s lighthouses and the 225th birthday of the United States Lighthouse Service.  This is quite an occasion.  Twenty-four years have passed and the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate still can not get together to agree on making this date a National Day in perpetuity.  It has been a one-time event and as such has left today’s world of lighthouse preservation in flux.  True lighthouse aficionados want not only to save lighthouse structures, but also to save the memories, the photographs, and the artifacts associated with them.  This is not some frivolous whim.  In Fairport an organization began in 1945.  These men and women planned, developed, created, and served in various capacities in a society designed to honor the people and history who came before us. They have done so as volunteers and have for the most part kept Fairport’s 1825 lighthouse intact without federal, state or village monies for most of its post 1925 history.  Although federal grant money is available, it is occasionally, but rarely made available to nonprofits.  Groups like the Cleveland Foundation offer opportunities but lighthouses are a niche special interest group.  County commissioners have reduced monies available in any given year to nearly zero dollars.  The Village of Fairport Harbor has committed little if any resources to its historic icon for decades.  Basically there is no standard of continuity when it comes to helping preserve lighthouse structures.  A National Lighthouse Day is just one small and token gesture to honor the many volunteers who have saved lighthouses from government neglect or possible destruction.  It is also a day to honor those who saved artifacts, those who work to preserve what others have started and the museums that are preserving them.

Lighthouses and their museums are under attack on all fronts.  Special interest groups want more without giving back.  Expenses rise while dedicated revenue streams dry up.  Volunteers continue to serve without relief in sight.  August 7th is a day to celebrate all that is good at our lighthouse.  I thank our volunteers who make the commitment each week, month or year to serve.  I urge our readers to write your local legislator and urge him/her to make August 7th a ‘National Lighthouse Day’ in perpetuity by 2015.

Visit -

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Remarkable Lake County -- Kirtland-opoly

It is always difficult to craft an article or entry that shares 100% of your vision.  This can be especially true when one attempts to choose historical events to share about a particular city, municipality or community.  I begin today's entry with my usual refrain about Lake County being Ohio's smallest county with perhaps the most history.  With apologies to The Kirtland Temple, The Mooreland Mansion and Historic Kirtland history sites let's begin today's challenge.  Do you know the answers to these ten questions dealing with Kirtland, Ohio?

1.  In 1923 the John Wanamaker Store in Philadelphia purchased three stone cottages from England.  One cottage dated back to 1492.  The structures found their way to America in 1925 and to Kirtland by 1945.  American entertainment icons Cole Porter, Gloria Swanson and Joan Crawford visited this man's estate.  Name this Kirtland personality or estate on Little Mountain Road and Hart.

2.  Pastoral Terrors abound each fall as the story of these personalities lead visitors to Wisner Road in search of a siting.  Name these local legendary figures.

3.  A 1920 meeting of David Norton, Edward Moore and Mrs. Henry Everett led to the creation of this famous Kirtland site.  It still exists today- Can you name it?

4.  If you know the answer to question three, then you know the 580 acres, 25 outbuildings and 1910 stone mansion was once known as this?

5.  Kirtland got its name from Turhand Kirtland yet it is is son that may have had the most lasting impact on this community.  Name this famous son whose contributions to the fields of science are many.

6.  Samuel and Blanche Halle purchased 424 acres in 1912 in Kirtland for their summer farm.  What Lake Metropark property occupies their former site?  Hint - a horse barn is the visitor center.

7.  Sixty percent of this 1808 holding lies within Chapin Forest.  This topography also marks the beginning of the Allegheny Plateau.  Name the man or mountain that goes by this surname.

8.  9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road is the location of the county's oldest stone home dating back to 1841.  The owner was Henry Earl.  Known as the Vineyard House, today it is home to this national organization.

9.  Over 170 years ago Chris G. Crary obtained the first 156 acres of this site.  Other owners included the Criswell Family, Farinacci Family and Locust Farms.  In 1990 it was acquired by Lake Metroparks and is now known as...

10.  It was conceived as a memorial for his oldest daughter in 1931.  Warren Corning donated land, collections and even served as director in its infancy.  Name this well-known Kirtland property.

answers-   1.Leonard C. Hanna  2.  Melonheads   3. Kirtland Country Club   4.  Leo Doro Farms   5. Dr. Jared Kirtland   6.  Penitentiary Glen   7.  S.A. Gildersleeve   8.  Herb Society of America   9.  Farmpark   10.  Holden Arboretum