Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Hidden Gem - This one has been in 'bloom' since 1936

Only a few of Mentor's existing businesses were founded before the year 1950.  Of the ten, five were florists and greenhouses.  Today's blog looks at the one located at 9294 Mentor Avenue.  Mark Havel is the third generation owner of a family business dating back to January 1936.  Havel's Flowers and Greenhouses offers the usual assortment of  both annual and perennial plants and flowers.  Cornstalks and pumpkins can be purchased each Fall.  Holiday trimmings await the drivers who pass each festive December evening.  The Havel's also offer personalized service and readily share their years of gardening experiences with all customers.  However, it is the ornamental greenhouse that captured my interest the first time I visited.  It continues to do so each time I visit or drive by.  This greenhouse is the hidden gem in Lake County's history that bears retelling.

Joseph Havel secured the green ornamental greenhouse from the George Ball estate in Cleveland in 1937.  Its history is worth noting.  Michigan born Grace A. Ball  (1869) married Clevelander Herbert H. Dow in 1892.  Grace's father George was the founder of Midland's first bank.  Her husband Herbert H. Dow studied at the current CWRU campus and pursued a scientific research path that resulted in the establishment of the Dow Chemical Company (chlorine beach et al.).  The Ball estate was located in Gordon Park, a  Gordon family homestead which eventually became a 122 acre outdoor recreational area near East 72nd Street.  At one time before the freeway was built, it joined with Rockefeller Park and Wade Park.  From 1954-1986, the Cleveland Aquarium sat on part of the Ball estate property.  Today ball diamonds have replaced the estate and the aquarium exhibits have long since been relocated.  The Cleveland Police Department have also used the property. Today all that remains from Cleveland's Gilded Age and one family from Millionaire's row is a Mentor Avenue ornamental greenhouse with a unique back-story.

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