Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hellriegel's Inn - another chapter in Painesville's U.S. Presidential History

My first visit to Hellriegel's Inn came in May 1975.  As one of the editors of The Mentor High Log, I was nominated by our advisor Mrs.  P. Williams to receive the Dale Rice Journalism Award.  As I recall, it was a nice day to be out of school. The meal was good and Mr. Rice was a kind host that day.  It was nearly ten years later when I returned.  That occasion was a celebration with my MHS German teacher Frau Schormuller.  Twenty-four more years passed before my next visit.  A Sunday morning buffet with my wife and sister-in-law marked the most recent occasion.  Each visit came with a brief recollection of a young U.S. Senator's visit on September 27, 1960.  That Senator became our next U.S. President. Today in retrospect, it is interesting to note that Lake County has served as an eyewitness to U.S. Presidential history, and Painesville has hosted four such events.  Abraham Lincoln stopped in Painesville on February 16, 1861 to deliver a speech.  James Garfield spoke in downtown Painesville on July, 3, 1880.  George H.W. Bush visited an Oktoberfest at the Fairgrounds on September 5, 1992.  Even First Lady Eleanore Roosevelt's visit to the Mooreland Mansion can serve as another chapter in our county presidential history.

The history of Hellriegel's Inn ( Presidential History stop number 3 ) dates back to Benjamin Blish, a veteran of the American Revolution.  Blish arrived in Painesville in 1805.  Within three years, he bought a farm.  The farm was transferred from fathers to sons through 1897.  The first dwelling and current site of Hellriegel's Inn according to tax duplicates was built in either 1841 or 1863.  George Blish sold the family farm in 1897 to Frank W. Hart.  Hart was owner of a millinery in Cleveland.  The property was destined to become a family summer estate.  Hart named his home " Cherry Farm" for the old orchards still present.  Upon Hart's death in 1910, the property was sold to a Samuel Runner, Vice-President of the Bailey Company.  The Bailey Company was a major department store located in downtown Cleveland.  By 1918 the property had transferred to the Cleveland Jewish Orphan Asylum.  The property was used for summer outings through 1925.  The Lake County Country Club followed with a brief and unsuccessful tenure at that site.  

Meanwhile on the park in Madison, Joseph H. Hellriegel and his wife had opened a Roadside Inn.  Established in 1918,  a fire destroyed their Inn in January of 1927.  The couple relocated to Painesville and acquired the old "Cherry Farm".  The residence was converted into a restaurant and night club in 1928.  The year 1945 saw ownership pass to Mr. and Mrs. Ross McNaughton.  Seven years later, Arthur Covert and William Kochevar purchased the building and eight acres of land.  The building was enlarged in 1954 to its current size.  The Inn and banquet room enjoyed a 55 year run before being sold to Painesville residents Silvio Trifiletti and Albert Dilorio in 1999.  Today, Hellreigel's Inn remains a public restaurant and is also the site of the annual December 7th observance in memory of Pearl Harbor.

* The speeches given in Lake County by Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, G. H.W. Bush and future President John F. Kennedy may be viewed in full at

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