Monday, November 28, 2011

Get 'Grinched' Again at Fairport this coming Saturday! Come Experience Harbor Holidays.

Serving up good will is what 'Harbor Holidays' is all about.  This isn't entirely a history blog today,  No, it is more of a celebration about what's good about the Village of Fairport residents.  It is a 'Rockwellian' slice of Americana that merits retelling.

In 1994 a tradition began in Fairport.  Named Harbor Holidays it features shopping, eating, visiting, and reveling in the holiday spirit of the season.  Area churches, businesses, and organizations open their doors from 10a.m.-4p.m. the first Saturday of each December and offer visitors an experience often lost in the hustle and bustle of recent decades.  Ethnic foods, crafts, and Christmas Market  experiences unite generations of families.  A village map is provided at any venue and the map denotes all the participating sites.

In 2000 the icon of the Winter Holidays, the Grinch first appeared at this village event.  He has returned to the village every year since.  The Grinch arrives in town on December 3 at 10a.m.  Fresh from his Canadian capers - he will be loose on the town.  Known to enter various places of business, he steals presents.  Stolen gifts will be donated to Toys for Tots.  His trial and book signing will be at the Fairport Harbor Public Library from noon-1:30p.m.  A public hearing will occur at 6p.m. from the top of the tower at the Fairport Lighthouse.  After the Grinch's classic transformation, the public is invited to the village park. The Grinch, his dog Max, and Santa will be available for free photos in the village gazebo.  Then the Young Adult Group of the Congregational Church on the Square will provide free hot chocolate and snacks in their hall for the children and their families.

I began this blog by stating that this piece is a celebration about what is good about people.  Dr. Suess's classic tale asks two questions.  "What if Christmas doesn't come from a store?"  " What if Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more?"  December 3 is the embodiment of this message.  The entire day is a little bit more.  It is free and family friendly.  The Grinch, Max, and Cindy Lou Who are volunteers.  The Grinch Gang, those who provide the behind the scenes efforts are volunteers.  The Village Police Department, Administration, and Service Department all willingly participate in the day's event.  The Library Staff donates countless hours to the day's programming.

So remember - Get 'Grinched' again this Saturday, December 3 at 6p.m. at the Fairport Lighthouse.  Dress warm and bring chairs.  Also remember that this free family friendly generational event is made possible by the generosity of ... The Young Adult Group of the Congregational Church on the Square, The Fairport Harbor Mardi Gras, The Fairport Harbor Historical Society, The Fairport Harbor Public Library, QSI, Concord Transportation, Castellano's Pizza of Fairport, Kathy Dusa, Deliver Me Food, Spear-Mulqueeny Funeral Home and the 'good will' of many other village residents, past and present.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lake County Holiday Happenings Tour - the appetizer

Winter is in the air.  Holiday programs have started.  Home for the Holidays is the operative saying.  Today we look at a small variety of local events that are unique, family friendly, and bound to be remembered.

Nativity Exhibit 'Wise Men Still Seek Him'  -  An exhibit of hundreds of loaned nativity scenes opens with a lighting ceremony at 6p.m. November 25 in Historic Kirtland.  Honored as one of the "Top 100 Events in North America", visitors may also view thousands of holiday lights and listen to Sacred Christmas Music.  This annual exhibit is free.  Hours are 9a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday -Saturday.  Sunday hours begin at 11:30a.m.  This events runs thru December 30. Visit for more information.

Fairport Harbor Library - Ten events dot their holiday calendar.  The first holiday program is a three day event November 29, 30 & December 1st titled Celebrate Peace.  December 3 is the immensely popular Harbor Holidays event at the library.  Coloring contests, hands on decorating events, and a book signing by the Grinch are just a small part of the family fun events that day.  December 6, 7, &8 will feature the Make A Gift - Give A- Gift  program.  The last program at the library will be December 13, 14, & 15 and will involve Ornament Making.  Visit or call440-354-8191 for more information.

The Grinch Returns -  The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse Tower has been the site on the first Saturday of December for the holiday appearance of Dr. Suess's infamous Grinch.  At 6p.m. on December 3, the Grinch will read his classic story to all the children and visitors gathered below.  Afterwards he will lead the children to the village gazebo where Santa & Grinch pictures will be taken.  Snacks and hot chocolate will be provided.  This free event is made possible by many community volunteers, local patrons, and The Congregational Church on the Square Young Adult Group.  Visit for more information.

Boar's Head Christmas Festival -  The fifth annual festival will be presented by the Zion Lutheran Church in Painesville at 6:30p.m.on December 6, 7:30p.m. on December9, and 4 and 7:30pm on December 10.The festival is an ancient and colorful pageant performed in the tradition of a medieval English manor house Christmas celebration.  All performances are free but reservations are needed because of seating considerations.  For details, please call 440-357-5174.

Old Fashioned Williamsburg Christmas Celebration -  The Historic 19th Century Jefferson Depot Village ( 147 E. Jefferson St.,Jefferson) is the site of this unique holiday event.  Borrowing from an old-fashioned Williamsburg theme, sleigh bells, wagon rides, ice sculptures, and gingerbread house contests are some of the events planned for the day.  For details call 440-576-0496.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lake County Mini Profiles - 'WWW' and 'The City on the Edge of Forever'

Today's mini profiles feature two famous people who resided briefly in Painesville, Ohio.  One was a kindergarten teacher whose students included William Windom (actor) and Jim Backus ( Mr. Magoo, Thurston Howell III et al.).  The other was a prolific scribner whose work 'The City on the Edge of Forever' is a classic Star Trek episode.

                                           Margaret Hamilton 'WWW'

Margaret Hamilton was born in Cleveland, Ohio.  She attended Hathaway Brown in Shaker Heights.  Her parents insisted she attend college. Upon graduation she became a teacher and maintained a lifelong commitment to Public Education.  It was however her stage career that brought Margaret her notariety.  Just six years into her career as an actress, it was the year 1939 that became her signature moment.  She accepted a role as the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.  Her favorite book led to a role that would follow her forever.  Not even stints as Granny Frump on the TV series 'The Addams Family, Cora for Maxwell House Coffee, or a role on the soap opera 'The Secret Storm' could ever etch the roll of the wicked witch from the minds of the public.  She reprised the roll one last time for a Sesame Street episode before returning to the field of education as a school board member in NY.  In case you are wondering about the 'WWW', Margaret often signed her autograph with that acronym.  It stood for Wicked Witch of the West.

                                                   Harlan J. Ellison

Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934 Harlan spent his childhood in Painesville, Ohio.  He became one of the country's most prolific writers.  He has over 1700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, and essays to his credit.  His genre is speculative fiction.  His most celebrated works were the anthologies 'Dangerous Visions.'  Screenplays/ teleplays receiving recognition include I Robot and the Star Trek episode 'The City on the Edge of Forever.'  Other famous awards he has received include the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Bram Stoker Award, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in writing.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Local Lore Visits Lake Erie College - A National Register of Historic Places Site since 1973

Seventy-seven sites in Lake County are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Some are famous residences. Their names include Talcott, Metcalf, Sawyer, Lyman, Hanna, and Kimball et al.  Others are places of worship. Two are Lake Erie lighthouses.  A historic district is one site duly registered. A school building is on the list.  Another structure is a city hall.  Some such as Ladd's Tavern or Lutz's Tavern are not as familiar.  One is an Administration Building (College Hall) on the campus of Lake Erie College.  It is clearly visible to anyone traveling on Mentor Avenue on  their way into downtown Painesville.  Its back story and the college traditions that sprang forth are worth sharing.

Founded in 1856, Lake Erie College has some interesting nuggets to share in our county history.  College Hall ( Administration Building ) came to be in 1859.  A south wing to College Hall followed in 1877.  Memorial Hall opened in 1890.  Former President Taft visited LEC in 1915.  The Cleveland Orchestra performed on campus in 1921.  A Skinner organ was donated in 1927.  At nearly $51, 000 in cost, it was the largest pipe organ in Ohio at the time of its arrival.  The women of LEC knitted sweaters for the British during WWII.  Dr. Benjamin Spock visited campus in 1963.  A world known Equestrian Center was begun in 1971.  Margaret Mead graced the campus in 1976.  A county and region Indian Museum was housed on campus beginning in 1980.  However it is the enduring college traditions that merit a deeper examination.

Founders Day -  Timothy Rockwell ( Concord Furnance), Silas Trumball Ladd ( Ladd's General Store), Reuben Hitchcock (Judge), William Lee Perkins (lawyer), Aaron Wilcox ( Mayor, Painesville Academy Headmaster), and Charles Austin Avery (self made man) were the original founders of the college.  Borrowed from another institution, Founders Day began in 1894.  Descendants of the founders visit campus each year.  They come to share with students the history of the college.
Mountain Day - First celebrated in 1903, this tradition calls for classes to be cancelled and outdoor activities to be the theme of the day.  Originally known as Little Mountain Day or Mountain Day, students of LEC were offered an excursion to the Little Mountain Hotel owned by founder Charles Avery.  Once there, students experienced nature and various planned outdoor experiences as part of their total educational opportunities.
Tiberius - a four foot mascot, this quiet sentinel guarding the campus has had a most interesting existence on campus.  Tiberius I came to the campus in 1910.  He came from the home of Miss Harriet Young whose residence sat directly across from the Lake County Court House.  In 1950, Tiberius was kidnapped by students of CWRU.  Many leads were persued but all proved futile in the end.  Tiberius II came to campus in 1975.  He was an exact image of the original and was found in an antique shop in New York.  Vandals destroyed Tiberius II in 1984.  Tiberius III arrived in 2004 as a class gift.  Tiberius IV appeared on campus in 2008 and currently sits in the base of Tiberius II at mid-campus.
Stormy - Lake Erie College may have had its earliest roots steeped in seminarian and all women campus history, but athletics and school spirit necessitated a mascot.  A dog, a lightning bolt, and a unicorn have served this purpose in the past annals of college history.  1994-1995 saw a community and Alumni Magazine contest search for the newest mascot to the college archives.  Named 'Stormy', this mascot now represents this co-ed institution and is the brand most often seen on the green and white that is LEC.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Local Lore Celebrates 100 - Part Two

Here is a little post 100 blog quiz to test your recall.  Do you remember these 'Local Lore' tid-bits?

1.  Lake County's oldest dwelling, a stone house built on Pierson's Knob in 1841 was once known as the Vineyard House.  Today it is the home of ...
a.  Holden Arboretum  b.  Herb Society of America   c.  Lake Front Lodge   d.  Old Stone Schoolhouse

2.  This little known 1843 relic used during the Civil War may be found on the hill near this famous lighthouse in Fairport Harbor...
a.  H. B. Treat  burial marker   b.  foremast of the U.S. Michigan  c.  underground railroad tunnel entrance  d. Francis USLSS metallic covered lifesaving car

3.  Harry Kelsey Devereau of Wickliffe was the inspiration for the 'drummer boy' in the famous painting "Spirit of '76".  What Perry resident was the model for the 'fifer' in that iconic artwork?
a.  Daniel Beard  b.  Hugh Mosher  c.  Henrik Paine  d. Samuel Butler

4.  Uncle Dan ( Daniel Carter Beard) was celebrated for many things.  Which one was not a Beard contribution...
a.  Boy Scout of America patch  b. Indian Guides founder    c.  Camp Fire Girls founder  d.  Boy Scouts of America co-founder

5.  His original home is located near Big Creek Valley.  He was a noted abolitionist.  He founded the Cleveland Herald.  In 1822 he moved to our county and founded the Painesville Telegraph (1822-1976).  His name was...
a.  Jack Casement  b. Eber Howe  c.  Samuel Huntington  d.  Charles Parker

6.  'Coulallenby' was the name of this Czar of the Great Lakes ( Harry Coulby) estate located in Wickliffe.  What business venture made Harry a member of Millionaire's Row?
a.  Interurban railroad line  b.  Interlake Steamship Company  c.  Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company    d.  C. P. & A railroad line

7.  In 1802 it was known as Wilson's Corners.  Today Lake County residents know this area as...
a.  Madison Township  b.  Concord Township   c. Timberlake  d.  Waite Hill Township

8.  This medical college located in downtown Willoughby from 1834-47 eventually gave birth to three famous institutions.  Which one is not an offshoot of this union?
a.  Lake Erie College  b.  Andrews-Osborne Academy  c.  CWRU  d. The Ohio State University

9.  Painesville was first named after this famous General?
a.  General Garfield   b.  General Champion   c.  General Richmond   d.  General Skinner

10.  Arabian Horses, Locust Farms, and a Well-Bred Shed are associated with the history of this Lake County park property that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010.  Name it...
a.  Holden Arboretum  b. Lake Farmpark  c. Penitentiary Glen  d.  Erie Shores

11.  Originally known as the Lakeshore Blvd. Estates this organization was responsible for the naming of all streets in what is now known as Timberlake.  Name the organization...
a.  Willoughbeach Association  b.  Hiawatha Club   c.  Willowick Rotary Club   d.  Lake County Toastmasters Club

12.  Willowick has been an eyewitness to history.  Which event is not associated with the city's history?
a.  Nike-Hercules site  b.  Interlake Steamship dock site  c.  Tinkerbelle   d.  G. P. Griffith disaster

13.  Which statement is not true as it relates to Lake County history?
a.  The first Mardi Gras was held in 1939 in Fairport
b.  Mentor was named for a character in Roman history
c.  Painesville Beach State Park (1953) was the original name of what is today known as Headlands State Park (1967)
d.  Four U. S. Presidents have at one time or another given speeches in Lake County.
Answer Key:  As my former students will remember and attest - all the answers are 'B'

Monday, November 7, 2011

Local Lore Celebrates 100 - Part One

One hundred is a magic number.  Unless it is pennies one hundred seems to be recognized as a notable milestone.  If you are a collector, one hundred of anything is significant.  If you are a coach, one hundred wins merits accolades. If you are a hoarder, one hundred of some things might result in problems.  As a student (public school, college, post graduate) and teacher, I doubt I even came close to writing one hundred papers total.  Today though marks my 100th blog for the News-Herald.  Local Lore has taken me on a fact finding journey throughout our county.  I definitely know more trivia and historical facts today than the sum total of all my years as a county resident.  It has been interesting to realize how much history surrounded me and how much I failed to see.  Today I look back on some of my favorite topics and some that generated feedback from those who read them in 2010-2011.

Old Ohio Schools: Lost Stories Then and Now - November 11, 2010
I found this website when I was starting The Euclid Central Alumni Hall of Fame some years back. The site features pictures of community schools from the past through the present.  Archival images tell the story of schools no longer standing, repurposed, or still in existence today.  The Tale of Willoughby Union High School was the main inspiration for the blog.

Historic Markers Dot Lake County, Roadways of Days Past - January 6, 2011
Lake County was the roadway of the Western Reserve. Stagecoaches traveled the Buffalo to Cleveland route.  Roads such as Girdled, Chillicothe, and Old State Road were major by-ways of pioneer travel.  U.S. Route 20 is the longest east-west road in the country.  This transportation route alongwith Lake Erie led many early pioneers to our region.  These men and women settled here and their contributions became cornerstones of Lake County and early American history.  The 27 markers that dot our county tell their stories.

Jonathan Goldsmith - June 2, 2011
He arrived in Lake County in 1811.  From 1819-1843 he was the most prolific architect of the era.  He designed over 30 homes and buildings, most of which still exist today.  Some notable area homes are the Howe, Seeley, Mathews, Sawyer, and Corning residences.  A lighthouse in Fairport, two Cleveland mansions, and banks in downtown  Painesville and Geauga County were also Goldsmith designs.

The Incident of Lewis and Milton Clarke - April 21, 2011
In August 1843 the Clarke brothers spoke at what today is the Madison Post Office site.  Born free men, the brothers were forced into slavery for over 20 years.  Having escaped and traveling in abolitionist Ohio, Milton was briefly caught in Madison by slave catchers.  Residents of Lake County rose up and helped secure his freedom.  Milton became the inspiration for the character George Harris in Harriet Beecher Stowe's famous novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Ann C. Whitman, Confidential Secretary - October 13, 2011
Born in Perry, Ohio she left college to intern and began a career that included working for President Dwight D. Eisenhower and NY Governor/Vice President Nelson Rockefeller.

Other favorites -

Lot #32 - November 18, 2010    The current site of Brennen's Fish House in Grand River, this building has stories both sullied and historical to share.
Do You Remember? The Interurban / Willoughbeach - August 29, 2011   Turn of the Century Willoughby and Willowick featured a Lake Shore Blvd. area void of houses.  Instead railways, resorts, beaches, summer cottages, and an amusement park dotted the Lake Erie shoreline.
USCG Station Fairport - August 4, 2011  An anniversary celebration on this day featured the history of the USLSS / USCG site at Fairport.  The station and the iconic village lighthouse in Fairport have been a part of Lake County history since its earliest days.
The Reeve of the Shire - November 15, 2010  Traced the history of the sheriff's department from the time of Robin Hood to Thomas Jefferson's declaration of the position in our country.  The history of those who served in Lake County is examined.
Mini Profiles: Men at Work - September 29, 2011 and its companion piece Women at Work - October 20, 2011  Names such as Jesse Storrs, A. E. Vrooman and Charles Ruggles permeate the early contributors to the Industrial Age.  Martha Elwell and Frances Casement were early pioneers from Lake County in the fields of education and women's suffrage.

It is hard to single out one piece of history as more important than another.  Each fact serves as a cornerstone to our county's story.  Some facts are well known and others are hidden gems.  Local Lore's first one hundred features are now out there.  The next hundred are waiting to be told.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lake County History Redux - Some Nuggets from the Twentieth Century

As we examine the history of our county, some topics lend themselves to detailed back stories and lengthy histories.  Today we peruse the annals of Lake County facts for those topics that are somewhat limited in recorded history but equally worth remembering.

Thompson Raceway -  It is the oldest continuous drag strip in Ohio.  It has been in operation since 1958.

Painesville Speedway -  This paved oval / figure 8 configured track has been in operation at its present site since the 1950's.  It is a NASCAR sanctioned site.

Painesville Township Park -  Currently a Lake Metroparks property on Hardy Road, the original park was founded in 1906 some distance west of the present site.  Its old pavilion was later used for a few years as company offices by the Diamond Alkali Company.

Fairport Yachts / Tartan Yachts CC - Long a business staple of Fairport - Nursery Road, its main campus is now located in Painesville.  The company's boat design and boat building roots date back to the 19th century.  The tall ship / schooner Madeline was built in Fairport.

The Burroughs Club -  This club was the beginning of a trend towards park planning and a movement towards preserving natural beauty spots.  Its history dates back to 1916 when a group of nature enthusiasts took the writings of famed naturalist John Burroughs and tapped the skills of new county arrival Dr. C. M. Shipman to make Lake County a horticultural mecca.  Shipman is honored for his efforts with a piece of Mentor Marsh bearing his name.

Wilson's of Willoughby -  The name was first mentioned to me by my uncle.  Sidney S. Wilson Co. of Willoughby had " Everything from Little Wooden Toothpicks to Heavy Lumber Wagons".  The store was located along the west side of Erie Street from Glenn to Spaulding.  The store sold dry goods, draperies, millinery, shoes, books, groceries and vehicles.  Samuel Smart took ownership of Wilson's of Willoughby and saw his company grow to be the largest country store between NY and Chicago.

R. A. Marsh and the Lake County Auto Industry -  A short lived factory located in Painesville, it began in 1913.  It was to be the main production site of the 1914 automobile named the 'Vulcan'.  Inefficiency and poor management strategies ended the company's tenure in 1915.  The Erie Car Company took over the site in 1916 before leaving the county forever.  A car factory in Willoughby existed for a minute in Lake County history.  It was the site of the Ben Hur car.  Only one car was built before it became a footnote in history.

Lewisite Gas - The former Ben Hur plant in Willoughby (see paragraph above) had a most unique role in history.  The plant made the highly dangerous methyl gas used in WWI.  The chemist soldiers were sworn to secrecy and not allowed to mention Willoughby.  The plant was surrounded by barb wire and at first leaving the grounds was forbidden.  The 1919 Armistice saved the German Army from seeing this gas used in combat.  Trains conveyed the toxic gas to the coast and the Atlantic Ocean received its deadly cargo.

Cleveland Crane and Engineering Company -  New trends in industry arose in the 1900's.  New equipment was needed and being developed for homes and stores.  Modern production lines were in their infancy.  Cleveland Crane built a plant in Wickliffe to manufacture overhead cranes used to move heavy equipment.  This brought automation to the docks at Fairport in 1906.  In 1911 The Diamond Alkali company came to Lake County and again Cleveland Cranes provided the labor machinery needed for 'The Diamond' and chemical companies that followed.