Monday, September 26, 2016

The Legacy of One-Room Schoolhouses

Dotting the back county roads, the casual traveler often passes by abandoned or second-third use repurposed remnants of a past era.  These aging buildings may bring back remembered images, be seen as merely crumbling structures or reconnect you with a by-gone county era.  Such is the case with three unique buildings of Americana found in our Lake County communities.

One - room schoolhouses are a part of American history dating back nearly 350 years.  First suggested in 1647 (Massachusetts), the Federal Land Act of 1785 and the Section 16 Act set up support of schools as an offshoot of The Northwest Ordinances.  An 1802 draft of Ohio’s constitution made reference to schools.  Even Thomas Jefferson championed free public education.

Prior to 1820 exisitng schools were mostly private by design.  The cost of a term, usually three dollars was a luxury well beyond the reach of most citizens.  Yet it is interesting to note that Ohio’s population in 1803 was nearly 60,000- Ohio being one of the first states developed from the Northwest Territory era.  This led to an 1825 law where free education became the rule. Public School was now in session in the soon to be Lake County.
 Early pioneer schools sprang up.  These schools were of a crude log design and often a 30’x50’ size at best.  An 1840 census indicated 407,000 children ages 6-15 attended schools.  Usually townships were divided into 6 or 7 sections hence the need for 6 to 7 schools.  School terms ran May thru September and November thru April.  Within a few years, the first pioneer schools were replaced by buildings now made of stone.  The Old Stone Schoolhouse (1840) on Ravenna Road was Concord’s third school but the first quarried stone structure in the county.  By the late 1900’s schools made of red-clay brick followed.  The Red Schoolhouse in Willoughby and School #2 in Kirtland Township are examples of that era of construction.  One- room schools remained in the forefront of early public school education until approximately 1920.  At that time urban schools challenged these mostly rural institutions.  Limited curriculum, facility size and rising standards for teacher certification became issues that only larger urban- based districts could combat.  Concord Township’s nine one-room schools were shuttered by 1924 and a new one building district school opened in 1925 to better serve all students.  A new era in education was at hand.

Lake County’s One Room Schoolhouses Still Standing –Key Facts

Old Stone Schoolhouse
 Built in 1840, open from 1841-1923, one of nine in its hey-day.  Located on Ravenna Road in Concord Township, it is a township museum maintained by the local historic society and open to the public.

Children’s Schoolhouse – Lake Metroparks
Originally known as Riverside School #2, located on Baldwin Road in Kirtland Township, opened in 1894.  Donated in 1988 by the Anthony S. Ocepala Family to Lake Metroparks.  It is open to the public for educational programs only.

Little Red Schoolhouse-
Currenly located at 5040 Shankland Road in Willoughby, it was built in 1901 and situated thru 1923 on the current YMCA site.  Last used in the 1940s, it is now a three building complex maintained by the local historical society.  It was moved to its current location in 1975.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Lake County Facts not found on the bottom of Snapple Bottle Caps

Every Sunday morning in recent months I have enjoyed reading sports columnist Jeff Schudel's educational ramblings entitled 'I didn't know that...until I read my Snapple bottle cap'.  Today's Local Lore by Max shares with the reader 10 Lake County Facts not found and most likely never to be found on the bottom of a Snapple bottle cap-yet worth sharing!

  1. Automobile parts inventor Claud Foster (Snubbers Car Shock Absorber and Gabriel Car Horn) and Robert Manry (Tinkerbelle voyage) both hail from Willowick.
  2. Pheasant Run Airport on Trask Road has some of the nations most coveted vintage WWI and WWII aircraft collections on view and open to the public.
  3. In 1932, nurseryman Joseph Kallay secured the first ever patent (#10) for his Blaze rose.  This patent and some other local nurserymen led Mentor to becoming the Rose Capital of the Nation in the following decades.
  4. Daniel Beard organized the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1906.  Four years later he was a foundling member of the Boys Scouts of America.  His design of the patch and emblem remain today.  He hailed from Painesville, Ohio.
  5. Hugh Mosher was the inspiration for the fifer in Archibald Willard's famous painting 'Spirit of '76'.  Henry Deveraux was the inspiration for the drummer.  Mosher hails from Perry while Devereaux was from Wickliffe.
  6. Donald Blakeslee was the most decorated airman in U.S. history.  His WWII triumphs and aviation history records garnered him the highest awards in two countries.  He hailed from Fairport Harbor.
  7. This Civil War General and lead contractor in the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 had a famous home in Painesville.  His wife teamed with houseguest Susan Anthony in another famous movement of the era.  Their home is the Casement/Jennings site.
  8. This Usonian home was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955 for Louis Penfield.  Since 2003 it is the only Wright home open for overnight bookings.  The home is in Willoughby Hills.
  9. During Cleveland's Gilded Age, millionaires Franklin Rockefeller, James Corrigan, Fergus Squire, Price McKinney and Harry Coulby made this city their home and the real city of millionaires.  The city was Wickliffe.
  10. The Willoughby Medical College (1834-1847) was the county's first.  A series of unfortunate events caused its demise but two current Ohio medical campuses had their genesis there in the 1800s.  The two were Ohio State University and Case Western University.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another Lake County Vignette - Concord Twp's Caroline 'Connie' Luhta

Lake County is one of Ohio’s smallest counties.  Concord Township is one of Lake’s smallest communities.  Yet both arguably share in the common denominator of having the most history to offer.  Concord’s aviatrix Connie Luhta is just one of many county stories worth sharing.  Seven terms to date as a local township official and 48 years as a resident are only the tip of the iceberg of this notable Concord Township lady’s story.  Here is the rest of her story.

  • 1948 Graduate of Thomas W. Harvey High School , member of Y team, cheering club, Honor Society, French Club, Harbinger Staff, Quill & Scroll
  • 1952 Graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University – B.S. in Chemistry
  • 1977 Graduate of Lake Erie College – B.S. in Business Administration
  • Career as a Research Chemist for the Standard Oil Company
  • Member of Lake County Farm Bureau
  • Founded Concord Airpark (situated on 70 acres at 12253 Concord-Hambden Road) in 1952 with her late husband Adolph.  Airpark activated in November 1954
  • Certified Flight Instructor
  • President – Cleveland International Women’s Air & Space Museum located at Burke Lakefront Airport
  • Life Member - Silver Wings
  • Life Member – 99’s – International Organization of Female Pilots
  • Vice President – Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 118
  • Competitor – Twelve International Air Races, Ten Coast-to-Coast Races, Seventeen Proficiency Races
  • One of 55 female pilots enshrined in Burke Airport / International Aerospace Museum
  • Featured on card sets with notable women pilots Besse Coleman and Amelia Earhardt
  • May 2016 Inductee - Ohio Senior Citizen’s Hall of Fame
  • August 2016 Community Days Tribute to her aviation contributions 
Concord Community Days is this weekend.  For more information on that event or Connie's tribute on Saturday evening visit or call 440-639-4650 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Every Artifact Tells A Story - Concord Twp Site recalls Walter Wellman & Connie Luhta

History surrounds us.  Whether it is past, present or in the making one can experience history daily.  Lake County may be Ohio’s smallest county but it has the most history.  Concord Township is not exception to this claim.  One need look no farther than the Old Stone Schoolhouse to witness and share your community history.  Visitation and tours are available on posted dates, by appointment or during upcoming special events in 2016.

The schoolhouse serves as the township museum of history.  The names Leuty, Wellman, Luhta, Adams and Pomeroy  are shared here.  A school bell from the Judd Corner schoolhouse may be found on the premises.  The story of Concord’s early industry, notable farms and Little Mountain Hotels are shared there.  Artifacts from the schoolhouse years of 1841-1923 are on display.  The museum has much to share and is always looking for township documents, photos, family heirlooms and permanent artifacts to add to the still growing story that is Concord Township.

Walter Wellman – Born in 1858, his life as a noted journalist, explorer and aeronaut is examined in detail at the history museum.  As a journalist he was the founder of the Cincinnati Evening Post.  As an explorer, his efforts may have identified the exact arrival spot of Christopher Columbus.  However it is his aeronaut efforts that best define him.  A staunch pioneer in the airship / dirigible industry, he set to be the first explorer to arrive at the North Pole.  His crew left Paris in 1905 on an airship for the North Pole.  Failure resulted and a second attempt in 1907 was again non-successful.  Additional airship endeavours in 1910 (America) and in 1911 (Akron) met with tragic results.  Remnants from these historic attempts were stored in 1912 at Goodyear Tire & Rubber.  In the 2000s Wellman’s spirit was recognized and his airship artifacts sent to the Smithsonian for all to see.  A portion of his story is on display in Concord Twp.

Connie Luhta – Seven terms as a local official and 48 years as a resident are only the tip of the iceberg of this lady’s story.  This aviatrix is featured on aviation coins and banners with notable women pilots Besse Coleman and Amelia Earhart.  Connie earned degrees from OWU and LEC and enjoyed a career as a research chemist for Standard Oil for much of her life.  However it was the opening of Concord airpark in 1952 with her husband that began her rise in aviation history.  Twelve international air races, ten coast-to-coast races and 17 proficiency races sealed her spot in aviation annals.  A member of the Silver Wings, VP of the Experimental Aircraft Association and one of 55 female pilots to be enshrined in the Burke Airport / International Aerospace Museum are a few kudos on her resume.

You are invited to visit the History Society at the Old Schoolhouse.  You are welcome to volunteer.  More importantly you are encouraged to share your artifact and story with our community here!!!  This is the first installment in a series of continuing posts about local county artifacts -watch for new stories in late 2016 and early 2017.

For more information visit –

Monday, July 18, 2016

A One-Day Trifecta includes Lake County as its Epicenter

Do you know this self-mad man?
  • Born in a log cabin in Orange Township
  • Attended the Geauga Academy as a youth 
  • aspired to be a sailor
  • Was educated at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute ( Hiram College) in the 1850s
  • Was a faculty member (Greek & Latin) as well as president (age 26) at same college in the 1850s
  • Married a student from the college - Lucretia Randolph in 1858, had 7 children
  • Was an ordained minister / lay preacher
  • Served in the Civil War and achieved notable war time successes
  • Began a 17 year Congressional Career in 1863
  • A front porch campaign became his signature moment
  • An assassin's bullet took his life early in his Presidency
  • Funeral wreath from Queen Victoria may still be viewed at his Mentor home (former Dickey Farm) 
With the start of the RNC this week, I can think of no other local resident to share with you than our 20th President.  The RNC that year was a brokered convention with three candidates and two factions.  Unity proved elusive and consensus seemed hopeless.  On the 36th ballot a dark horse from Ohio became the party candidate and soon-to-be U.S. President.  An assassin's bullet took his life four months after election and his legacy faded in the annals of history.  However this week conventioneers, history buffs and county residents may want to visit the place and learn about the self-made man who is at the heart of the Republican Party.  His name James A. Garfield.

Your Trifecta Challenge -
  1. Visit Garfield's birthplace in Orange Township.  Garfield was the last president to be born in a log cabin.  The cabin is located at 4350 S.O.M. Center Road in Moreland Hills.
  2. Visit the 160 acre site that was his last home.  Today the 8 acre site that remains in Mentor, Ohio is fondly remembered as Lawnfield.  This NHS includes the first ever presidential library, a restored Victorian interior, a windmill and many other artifacts from the Garfield family collection.
  3. Visit the James A. Garfield Memorial in Cleveland. Garfield's elaborate castle-like monument is located on a hill in Lake View Cemetery in the heart of downtown.  Mosiacs, stained glass windows and a full casket display give way to a balcony view that shares a 40 miile view of Lake Erie.

Monday, June 27, 2016

All Aboard! Only in Fairport Harbor -- Tall Ships Coming in Early July

Cleveland may be on a historic winning streak in recent weeks but one more special moment in 2016 will elude the city.  It seems the RNC and its myriad of regulations refused entry to the Tall Ships Event that visits the Port of Cleveland every few years.  Cleveland's loss will be Lake County's gain.  Lake County's best kept secret Fairport Harbor will be the new site for this visit beginning July 7th with a Parade of Sails.  'Life is definitely better in a beach town' and nine tall ships will make it so July 8-10 from 10am to 5pm daily.  The docks at 420 Water Street will be abuzz with activity reminiscent of when Fairport Harbor was the second largest area port in the 19th c.  Visitors will be able to experience deck tours as well as book limited sail experiences.  Maritime musicians will be performing daily, food trucks will be on site and various local and nautical educational information will be shared.  Just up the street from the ships, the 1825-1925 Grand River Lighthouse will be open for daily visits and tower tours.  Known since 1945 as the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum, an Art Festival will be on the lighthouse hilltop during the weekend with area artist Bill Csatary on site sharing his newest works.  Nearby the Finnish Heritage Museum will be open to share the culture and history of Fairport and its Finnish community.  Local merchants such as Great Lakes Boatworks, The Gravel Pit and many local antique shops will offer retail therapy for anyone's tastes.

Tall Ships Weekend Potpourri - Visit for the most current information, schedule of events and advance ticket purchasing.
  • Participating ships include U.S. Brig Niagara, Pride of Baltimore, Draken Harald Harfagre, Appledore IV, When and IF, Appledore V, S/V Denis Sullivan, El Galeon Andulucia, Mist of Avalon
  • Maritime Musicians & Weekend Performers include Tom Kastle, Hard Tackers, Pirates of the Rusty Cutlass, Goodknights, Alex Bevan, Horsefeathers and more
  • Parade of Sail - Thursday July 7th - approx. 4-8pm
  • Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park ( Lake open daily till 8pm
  • Two local museums will be open extended hours (admission charge)
  • Two local Lighthouses may be viewed  (.8 miles apart)
  • Festival Passes, VIP Sails, Day Sails and more available by visiting
  • Parking Lot Shuttle available / sponsored by local merchants
  • Local Businesses and eateries will be open for unique shopping experiences
  • Volunteer opportunities still possible - visit website

Other Useful Websites -

Thursday, May 26, 2016

'Millionaires'City' & 'Touring Wickliffe'

The years 1873-1930s were known as Cleveland's Gilded Age.   Nearly half of the world's millionaires lived in Cleveland.  More than 260 properties showcased the grandeur of this famous era in local history.  'Millionaires' City' became the name for Wickliffe as it became the summer home destination of the area industrialists.  'Touring Wickliffe' was a 1989 program that offered a driving glimpse into this opulent time of history.  It began at Rockefeller's former carriage house and ended on Worden Road.  Today's entry is but an overview of this Wickliffe Historical Society project.

'Lakeland' as it was known on Rockefeller Road was the summer home of Franklin Rockefeller, one of the more famous gentleman farmers.  Totaling 157 acres, the estate was built in the 1900s.  Today the carriage house remains, some interurban tracks are located in Pete's Pond Reservation and Wickliffe High School occupies the former estate site.

29940 Ridge Road is the Old Stocking Home.  Part of the Stocking Family holdings from 1866-1936, the homestead at 30000 Ridge Road still stands.  Nearby to the south was Justamere Farm, the farm of Joseph R. Nutt.  It was built in 1896.  Nutt was the treasurer of the NRC for Herbert Hoover.  Nutt was also a prominent businessman and part owner of the soon to be Quaker Oats Company of Akron, Ohio.

"Nagirroc' was the home of James Corrigan.  Corrigan and Price McKinney were independent steel partners.  Their company in time was known as Republic Steel.  Both men's estates were on the current site of Pine Ridge Golf Club.  Corrigan's "Nagirroc" sits on Ridge Road.  McKinney's estate 'Ridgemere' sat on Bishop Road.  Borromeo Seminary at 28700 Euclid Avenue was also part of this summer home.

'Wickliffe-on-the-Bluff' was the home of D. Edward Dangler.  Dangler owned the first company to manufacture gasoline stoves.  Today it is known as the Drenik Estate.  29301 Ridge Road is the George Armington home.  Armington came to the area in 1903 and his company Cleveland Crane founded in 1899 was synonymous with building.

'Couallenby' is perhaps the city's most famous estate.  Today it is the site of Wickliffe City Hall.  Completed in 1913, it was the home to Harry Coulby.  Coulby was the 'Czar of the Great Lakes.' From humble beginnings Harry rose to become a shipping magnate of the day.  Pickands Mather and the Cleveland Foundation are intertwined in his life story.

28400 Euclid Avenue was the Julius E. French property.  French was involved in car roofing, railway steel springs and steel car wheels endeavours.  The home was known as 'Upton Court' and covered 400 acres.  The 'Nutwood Farm' was also part of this site and the Devereux story is part of Ohio's Historical Markers.

T.E. Rice and Chester Rush are local merchants on a lesser scale than the millionaires mentioned above.  Their stores merit a mention in today's entry as does the 'Provo House' and Hardaker's Ice Cream Parlour.  Copies of the driving tour are available at City Hall.  Also located inside the Coulby Estate is the Wickliffe Historical Society.  Kathy of the WHS is always ready to share the 'Millionaire City' history with you!