One block west of Lawnfield is a park that served as the four season recreational home of my junior and senior high school years. Until now, I have only known it as Mentor Recreation Park and Eleanor B. Garfield Park. In the summers, my mom purchased a ceramic tag, sewed it onto my bathing suit and the pool beckoned nearly every afternoon. Down the hill, its ball diamonds provided me and my siblings with years of athletic competitions. In the 1970's, I ran cross country there for Coach Coogan Reese and the Mentor High Cardinals. As a high school coach I once again visited the park for GCC and SSL events. This scenario replayed itself for my brother, sister, cousins and friends. Despite the years of park attendance, I never knew the history of this property until recently. Here is the rest of the story.
One block up the avenue is a sight well known to all the residents of Mentor and Lake County. Originally known as " The Mentor Farm ", 8905 Mentor Avenue was dubbed Lawnfield by reporters in 1880. James A. Garfield conducted much of his presidential campaign from the porch and lawn of his Mentor home. His election and tragic assassination shortly thereafter is well documented. His former family home is now a National Historic Site. The park of my youth was originally the summer home property of John Newell, brother of Helen Newell Garfield ( the wife of Garfield's second son, James R. ) His house sat where the pool is currently located. The original carriage house still remains at the base of the hill below. Eleanor Borton Garfield, a former village mayor, secured the land as a recreational park in the late 1950's. In 1980, it became the first public park in Mentor and was named after Garfield's granddaughter-in-law. Today, one can swim, play ball, play tennis, or enjoy the park amenities. You can fish its pond, sled, or enjoy a family skate if winter weather allows. And if history truly repeats itself, you and your family will visit this park property and add to this living history.