Monday, June 13, 2011

Lost Stories: Yesterday and Today in Mentor, Ohio

History is often lost on today's youth.  The Mentor of my youth no longer exists.  Pencils, slide rules, LP records, typewriters, and transistor radios replaced by calculators, computers, iPods, and cell phones.  The sites of my youth are now almost gone (Center Street Mill, Bargain Fair, Bavarian Inn, Castello Florist, Mentor Post Office, the Drive-In et al.) and until I reached the AARP generation, I didn't give it much thought.  Occasionally at family events or with friends a story of days past is revisited.  Today's blog asks the question, Do You Remember?

       A partial Timeline of Mentor History-
  • 1814 Warren Corning build the first frame building.  It stood on the corner of Center Street and Mentor Avenue.  It was the D.G. Branch Tavern.
  • 1815  Mentor Township is formed.
  • 1833  The first Mentor Township Hall was built on Jackson Street.  The Hopkins and Sawyer families were donors to the project.
  • 1851  The Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad reached Mentor.
  • 1854  Mentor Cemetery was established.
  • 1855  Mentor Village School District was formed.
  • 1868  First factory was built on Station Street.  It was known as the Hart Nut and Washer Co.
  • 1876  James A. Garfield purchased the Dickey Farm ( an original Corning property).
  • 1888  Mentor Village Hall is constructed.
  • 1916  Wayside and C. Merkel Nurseries are begun.
  • 1921  Klyn Nursery was established.
  • 1922  Mentor Lumber and J. Fracci Florists opened.
  • 1923  Mentor High School (Memorial site) replaces Center Street School. Center Street School becomes an elementary - JHS.
  • 1925 (1940)  Wyant nursery was established.  Public retail site began in 1940.
  • 1926  Nick Castello Florist opened.
  • 1928  Bosley Nursery began.
  • 1937  Joseph Havel salvages ornamental greenhouse from George Ball estate in Cleveland.  Florist business opened in Mentor Twp.
  • 1942  Fire Station #1 on Jackson Street is opened.
  • 1961  The Great Lakes Mall is opened.  It was the largest in the U.S. at the time.
  • 1965  The new Mentor High on Center Street is opened.  Memorial becomes a JHS.
  • 1973  The Cleveland Museum of Natural History dedicated 619 acres of Mentor Marsh property as a nature preserve.
  • 1986  Center Street Mill torn down.
The list is not meant to be all inclusive but rather serves to remember just a few of the lost stories from yesterday.  Stories remembered from my school years or passed down to me from my family and neighbors.  Either way, this is a Mentor heritage tour worthy of exploring as you drive the roads of Lake County.


  1. I came across this site when I was looking for posts/pictures of Mentor. I wasn't born there but my family moved there when I was one or two so I consider Mentor to be my home town.

    I moved to Hawaii with my family when I was 18, in 1970. I have nothing but the fondest memories of Mentor. To the list of memorable places I will add: Mentor Recreation Park
    Hytree Pharmacy
    Rexall Drug Store
    Bolton's Hill (winter sledding)
    Bleil's Nursery
    Regal Lanes
    and many,many more.

    Maybe someone will remember my father's music store on Mentor Ave. across from the Methodist church.

    Best wishes to all who call Mentor their home.


  2. Hi Steve, I am the nephew of Mel Jay who owned Bargain Fair when I was just a little guy. I went to St. Mary catholic school and Graduated from high school in 1970. I remember Bargain Fair vividly as I used to have to walk there from St.Marys when my mother was busy having my siblings and my Dad was busy working. Those days were great as I arrived at BF and had the receptionist call my Uncle and he would hurry down to greet me. Most of the times he would take me down to the toy department and ask me what I liked. Sometimes he would buy it for me on the spot but most times it would show up at Christmas. My most favorite time's were of him with a big old stogie and saying "Hey ya little shit how are ya doing". He was one of the greatest guys that I loved.Great Lakes Mall put him out of business. It was great growing up in Mentor as a kid.Larry Crookshanks

  3. Before it was Bargain Fair it was the Sidney Cohen Lumber Co. My Dad worked there as yard foreman after the war (II). I can't even locate the site anymore. Can anyone provide an address on Mentor Ave?