Monday, January 31, 2011

1967 Fun Facts includes a Community College and the Mooreland Mansion

1967 Fun Facts:
  • McDonalds test markets the Big Mac
  • Congress creates PBS
  • Carl B. Stokes becomes the first African America Mayor
  • Mickey Mantle hits home run number 500
  • Green Bay 35, Kansas City 10 in Super Bowl I
  • Lakeland Community College is founded
This piece of local lore actually got is start nearly nine decades earlier when Edward W. Moore moved to Cleveland.  Moore arrived in Cleveland in 1880 with nothing more than a common education.  By 1901, this upstart banker and Cleveland industrialist left an indelible mark on the NEO landscape.  Moore founded the Western Reserve Trust and invested in street and suburban electric railways.  Between 1895-1901 his railways spanned Cleveland, Detroit, and 15 interurbans in three states.  While living in his Euclid Avenue home, Moore commissioned a summer country home to be built in Lake County in the early 1900's.  Set on 1000 acres, this 42 room country house known as the Mooreland Mansion remains a piece of living history.  Mooreland Mansion was originally a retreat for wealthy industrialists and noted guests.  Polish Prime Minister and pianist Ignace Paderwski stayed at Mooreland.  First Lady Eleanore Roosevelt was a house guest.  Edward W. Moore died in 1928.  His wife and four daughters left Cleveland and lived at Mooreland for the remainder of their years.  The family Mansion remained basically intact through 1960.  The last surviving Moore daughter lived there into the early 1980's.

In the year 1964, twenty-two people held an impromptu meeting at Mentor Recreation Park.  Mr. Erwin Maus III, editor of The News-Herald, noted a nationwide trend of community colleges had developed and sparked the group into promoting this cause.  With some assistance from The League of Women Voters, a 1.7 million dollar Lake County college construction levy was passed in 1965. Dr. Wayne Rodehurst was hired and Lakeland Community College opened on June 9, 1967.  Twenty-six professors and 1,073 students reported to a Painesville YMCA, a Trust Building, and Methodist Church for classes.  An abandoned mortuary building served as the first college administrative offices.  In 1968, Lakeland Community College bought 400 acres of the Mooreland Estate including the mansion.  As part of the $600,000 deal, Moore's daughter Margaret was allowed to live at the mansion.  Margaret remained in the family country home until her death in 1982.  Lakeland Community College opened its new site on the 400 acres in three phases ( 1971-1972-1975 ).  The Mooreland Mansion was taken over entirely by the college in 1988 and is now serves the community in multiple ways.  1993 saw the Mooreland Mansion achieve its last recognition as it became a site on the National Register of Historical Places.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Naturally Kirtland Part II - Early histories of an Arboretum and a Farmpark

Its familiar green sign can be found throughout Lake County.  Travel eastward down Morley Road and it is visible.  Travel south on Chillicothe Road and it is visible. Travel Route 2 or 90 eastbound or westbound and that well known name appears.  That familiar green sign and name is the Holden Arboretum.  Established in 1931 at the behest of Albert Fairchild Holden, it was conceived as a memorial for his oldest daughter Elizabeth Davis Holden, who died at the age of 12 in 1908 of scarlet fever.  When Albert Fairchild Holden died in 1913 at the young age of 46, his two surviving daughters inherited a trust for this eventual arboretum.  After some consideration of affiliating with Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, Emery May and Katharine Davis Holden looked to Kirtland, Ohio.  A donation of 100 acres from Benjamin (Roberta) Bole of Kirtland Township in 1931 began Holden's history.  Warren H. and Maud Corning donated a library collection and archives to the Arboretum.  Mr. Corning even served as executive administrator through 1958.  Lantern Court or the Corning home is now a part of the Holden Arboretum properties.  2011 marks the 80th anniversary of one of the United States' best known arboretums.  From its humble beginning of 100 acres, the arboretum now totals 3,600 acres.  The Arboretum contains twenty miles of hiking trails and features 120,000 species of plants.   The Holden Arboretum and all it offers are available daily for the public to experience.

Another familiar sign and logo had its start 170 years ago.  In the year 1831, Christopher G. Crary purchased 156 acres from Joshua Stow of the Connecticut Land Company.  In 1854, he purchased another 164 acres from a Tunis Rockafellow.  Robert Criswell purchases 206 acres from Crary in 1882.  In 1943, Grayce Farinacci acquired this property.  Dr. Leonard T. Skeggs purchased 119 acres from Farinacci in 1969.  He also purchased 116 adjoining acres and Locust Farms was founded.  The Farm raised Polish Arabian Horses on this Kirtland - Chardon Road property until 1987.  The sale of the Locust Farms to Lake Metroparks in 1987 marked a new beginning.  Officially opened in 1990, the Lake Farmpark is a working farm and its seasonal public events are well received by the county residents at large.  Halloween Hayrides began in 1990.  A dairy parlor was added in 1991.  Vintage, Ohio got its start in 1995 and the popular Well Bred Shed opened in 1999.

Naturally Kirtland has much to offer.  The Herb Society of America, The Holden Arboretum, and Lake Farmpark are three horticultural gems and part of our still evolving local lore.  It is a living history worth experiencing as often as possible.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Naturally Kirtland Part I - The Vineyard House has Thyme for you

The oldest stone structure in Lake County stands at 9019 Kirtland Chardon Road in Kirtland, Ohio. Known as the Vineyard House, it was built in 1841 by Henry Earl, a Lake County farmer. This sandstone dwelling has an interesting story to share.  Earl built his farmhouse on Pierson's Knob, the second highest point in the newly established Lake County (1840).  After over sixty years, the farm was purchased by a Benjamin Hubbell in the 1900's.  Hubbell was the designer of the Cleveland Museum of Art and several other notable Cleveland buildings.  He quickly added vineyards to the surrounding thirty acres and a stable for his racehorses.  In time,  Hubbell added a master bedroom and a rear porch to his newly named Vineyard House.  Hubbell, who also was the architect of The West Side Market, used two carved stone pieces from the market as corners for his fireplace.  In 1962, the Vineyard House became the home of the Residence Director of the Red Oak Camp.  After more than one hundred years the property was acquired by the Holden Arboretum. The year 1988 marked the final chapter in the story of the Vineyard House.  It become the permanent home of the Herb Society of America, Inc.

The Herb Society of America began in Boston.  In 1933, six women were studying Botany and Horticulture under a Dr. Edgar Anderson at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.  By August of that same year, the herb society was formed in the Ipswich, Massachusetts home of Mrs. Albert (Anne) Burrage. Major horticultural projects in Boston and Washington DC followed.  Research and educational libraries grew and by 1988 a search for a national headquarters was underway.  The house that Earl built and Hubbell enhanced proved to be the choice.  Acquired from the Holden Arboretum, The Herb Society of America, Inc. moved into the house in 1988.  Today, its libraries and educational outreach programs are shared by members and public alike.  You may stop by and visit during the hours of 9am-5pm any Monday through Thursday.  The Herb Society of America will make Thyme for You!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Churches - Architectural Cornerstones of Kirtland, Ohio

Today's blog briefly examines the stories of two places of worship found in Kirtland, Ohio.  One's story is rather well known, the other not nearly as known.  The Kirtland Temple on Joseph Street is a National Historic Landmark.  It was built from materials of a local gravel pit during a three year period, 1833-36.  Its chief founder Joseph Smith and his Mormon followers built this house of worship as they sought to develop another view of Christianity.  On July 25,1836, Joseph Smith left Kirtland and boarded a steamship in Fairport Harbor to begin a proselyting journey to Massachusetts.  Kirtland Temple membership reached a high of 2000 in 1838.  A year later, all but 100 were gone.  The Western Reserve Teachers Seminary rented two floors at the Temple in 1838-1839 as the church transitioned, while maintaining and continuing its historical presence in Kirtland through the present.

St. Hubert's Episcopal Church on Baldwin Road has had a rich and interesting journey in its history.  It was established on July 9, 1893 as the Church of the Transformation.  Originally located on Little Mountain Road, twenty-three years later it was moved to Salida Beach, Mentor on the Lake.  It sat on the grounds of the summer recreation facility known as the Holliday House for Girls.  Closed in 1925, there it remained until 1929, when it was moved to its current home.  The framework of the main chapel, stained glass windows, and bell survived the move.  The new St. Hubert's was a summer chapel until 1979, when it began full time services.  A Charles M. Ruggles pipe organ is a treasured piece of its history.

Another church worth noting is the Old South Church on Chillicothe Road.  Established in 1819, the first structure burned down.  A second structure faced the fury of a hurricane, before the current church was built in 1859.  The next time you drive the roadways of Kirtland, Ohio, it is my hope that you stop and take a few minutes to explore and learn the 'rest of the story' of these rich and interesting sites.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It All Began Here at "The Willoughby University of Lake Erie, Medical College, 1834-1847"

November 1834 witnessed a series of events that forever linked Case Western Reserve University, The Ohio State University, Lake Erie College and the newly named Willoughby, Ohio in the annals of Ohio educational lore.  The first event was rather typical of many town's histories. The village of Chagrin, founded in 1798, changed its name in 1834 to honor Dr. Westel Willoughby, a pioneer medical educator.  The second event occurring in the same year saw the Willoughby medical college open its doors.  This medical school, the first in Northern Ohio, was named after Dr. Westel Willoughby, Jr., President of the Fairfield Medical College in Herkimer County, New York.  Co-founded by John M. Henderson and Dr. Willoughby, two of Dr. Willoughby's students had established local practices in 1813 and 1819, thus paving the way for their arrival.

Dr. Willoughby, Dr. Henderson and Dr. George W. Card taught at the medical college, which enjoyed great success until the mid 1840's.  Faculty disputes, a poor economy, and student grave robbing for cadavars led to the abandonment of the site by 1847.  Dr. Willoughby left in 1843. Remaining faculty members relocated and pioneered the eventual formation of Case-Western Reserve and Ohio State Universities accordingly.  The abandoned medical college site became the new educational home of the Willoughby Female Seminary.  Women attending were able to take higher education classes and receive degrees in the arts and sciences.  In 1856, the Seminary changed venues to Painesville and with the securing of several donations opened Lake Erie College for Women in 1859.  Lake Erie College is now a coeducational institution and a key link in the early history of Lake County.

Today Historical Marker (8-43) commemorates the establishment of an early medical college in northeast, Ohio which laid the foundation for world-renowned CWRU and the OSU medical complex.  To view the rest of the story, just travel down Route 20 for about ten miles and stop at Lake Erie College.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

LeRoy Township: Lake County's Roadway to History

Established in 1820, LeRoy Township may be Lake County's best kept secret when one considers the local color of American History.  Named for LeRoy, New York, the town from which its settlers had emigrated, this twenty-five square mile tract of land was surveyed in 1797 as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve.  At first, Chesterfield ( original name ) was to be an agrarian based community of Geauga County.  However , Girdled Road became the first road cut through this Reserve in 1797 and the settlers who followed became a Who's Who in Lake County History.

The first settlement was made by Paul and Elijah Clapp.  Settlers named Vrooman, Paine, Seeley, Kniffen, Sumner , Chadwick, Balch, Taylor, Trask, Valentine and others followed.  Johnny Appleseed was believed to have traveled through LeRoy Township.  LeRoy's industrial center began with the building of Hendrick Paine's Sawmill and Forge.  A tannery, wagon shop, lathe and cobbler store followed.  Paine's Hollow merged the abundance of bog iron with the foundry he started.  As many readers know, Hendrick Paine was from the family for which Painesville was named. In 1840, LeRoy Township became part of the newly formed Lake County.

Two other interesting facts about LeRoy are worth mentioning.  LeRoy was home to the last covered bridge in Lake County.  Unfortunately it was torn down in 1952.  The other important fact to note on the eve of Ohio's 150th anniversary of its participation in the Civil War is that,  LeRoy sent 40 men to serve in war under General George McClellan.

As you drive the roadways of Lake County and enter LeRoy remember two things.  Many historic homes, schools, churches, and township buildings still stand as tribute to the pioneering spirit of the township.  Finally as you past each road sign, note the name on it and the story it may tell.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Willowick: Eyewitness to History

Willowick is only 1.75 square miles and its population is rather small totaling a mere 14,000 residents.  Yet looking back reveals a community that was an eyewitness to many notable local historical events.  The area now known as Willowick was first mentioned in 1796 by General Moses Cleveland.  Although no permanent settlement has ever been claimed, Native American tribes of the Iroquois Nation did roam and hunt in the area. From 1788-1839, five different counties including Geauga and Cuyahoga laid claim to this corner of what officially became part of the newly formed Lake County in 1840. Lindus Cody, cousin to Buffalo Bill Cody was a prominent Willowick landholder in the 1900's.  Claud Foster, a local resident invented the Snubbers shock absorber and Gabriel car horn. Even today, some notable citizens are Ohio State Rep Jamie Callender, current State Representative as well as first woman mayor Lorraine M. Fende (1996), and Daniel Troy, a former councilman, council president and current County Commissioner / State Representative.

In its long local history, three merit mentioning today.  First is the story of the G.P. Griffith.  On June 17, 1850 the Griffith became Lake Erie's greatest maritime disaster.  Boarding in Buffalo, NY  nearly 320 immigrants set sail for Cleveland and Toledo.  A fire developed as the ship left Fairport Harbor and soon enveloped the entire vessel.  The immigrants, many of whom had sewn coins into their clothing abandoned ship only to sink off the shores of Willowick.  Lives lost totaled 286 by most counts.  A mass grave was dug near the Willowick shoreline.  The grave was eventually lost to erosion in the 1920's.  The site and a historical marker stand on the Lake MetroParks Cabin property near E. 305th and Lake Shore Blvd.   A second bit of Americana found in Willowick is the old Nike Site.  During the late 1950's, Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile sites permeated our North Coast.  Although no silos were in Willowick, housed living quarters and a radar center did exist from 1957-62.  Some residents may remember the quarters being used as kindergarten classes from 1962-64, before the area became Manry Park in 1966.  This leads us to mention another notable event. The famous resident was Robert Manry.  In 1965, Manry sailed in a 13 foot sloop solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  Robert Manry, the 'Tinkerbelle', and Willowick became the news of the season. Once again, Willowick became an eyewitness to history.

These  are just a few of the lost stories of yesterday and the local lore that is Willowick, Ohio.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Historic Markers Dot Lake County, Roadways of Days Past

Currently 1346 historic markers may be found state-wide.  From John Morgan's infamous Civil War raid to the birthplaces of Clark Cable and Dean Martin, these markers have helped transform the state's landscape into a constellation of alluring people, places and events.  Twenty-six of Ohio's historic markers can be found in Lake County.  Each marker has been researched quite extensively.  Each provides a brief synopsis of the famous fact, year of induction, city and sponsoring organization.  Each is numbered.  The first number is our county       ( 43 ) and the second number denotes its county rank (-1 ).

Of the twenty-six markers currently found in Lake County, two commemorate  historic districts.  They are the Mentor Avenue Historic District (43-10) and Mormon Community (43-21).  Eight historic markers note famous buildings.  The Uri Seeley House (43-25) found in Painesville Township tells the story of this famous settler and abolitionist.  Another was the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Station (43-18).  It was later known as the Painesville Station.  Madison Township's Olde Tavern of Unionville became marker #43-13 in 2001.

Seven people and nine other sites comprise the remaining markers.  Two Lake county residents of note were Cora Gaines Carrel(43-23) and Harry Coulby (43-24).  Carrel was Ohio's first city councilwoman and resided in Willoughby.  Coubly was a shipping 'czar' and the first mayor of Wickliffe.  His home still stands today and is the home of city administration.  Mariners may find marker #43-9 in Willowick of interest.  It tells the story of the sinking of the Griffith. Indian Point (43-27) in LeRoy Township become an official site in 2009.

Each marker mentioned and those marker stories yet to be told are living histories of our county.  Each marker is a vital educational tool.  It is a 'roadway' you can explore in person.  If the travel is too difficult, then navigate your computer mouse to, a virtual tour is just a click away.

Monday, January 3, 2011

And a ' Mentorite ' shall lead them

On January 4th, a famous former Lake County native will turn eighty-one.  Born in Grand River and educated at the former Thomas Harvey High School in downtown Painesville, Don Shula's football pedigree is known and celebrated by all.  On January 4th at 8:30pm in New Orleans, another not quite as well known former Lake County native will lead the OSU Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl.  James (Jim) Patrick Tressel was born on December 5, 1952 in Mentor, Ohio.  His scarlet and gray football pedigree began while his father Lee guided the Mentor High School Cardinal football program to a 34 game winning streak.  Lee left Mentor to coach briefly at Massillon before assuming the head coaching reigns at Baldwin Wallace College from 1958-1980.  Although Jim Tressel graduated from Berea High in '71 and played quarterback for his father in college, this former 'Mentorite' ( a term dubbed by James A. Garfield in 1880 ) is part of the only father-son tandem to win a NCAA football title.  Lee won his in 1978 at B-W.  Jim won his titles at Youngstown State in the '90s and in his second year at OSU in 2002.