Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bicentennial Program Highlights Fairport History Tonight at 7pm

The Bicentennial of Fairport Harbor is officially three months away, but the celebration continues tonight with its second installment.  An ecumenical choir performance in January featured the musical talents the many original churches of Fairport.  Tonight at 7pm, three speakers from the FHTC will present a multi-media presentation on the origins and history of Grandon (1812), Fairport(1836), Fairport Harbor(1959).  The hour-long lecture will be held in the Harding High School Auditorium.  Laminated Poster Boards will be on display in the hallway showing some early photos of the village.  The photos are from the archives of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society.  A commemorative village calendar will be available for residents to pre-order.

More Abridged Chapters in Fairport History... 

'Taking Ice'
A major industry in Fairport occurred each winter.  Known as 'taking ice', hundreds of men were employed on the river and lake in this capacity.  During the ice harvest thousands of tons of ice were stored.  Horses pulled markers onto the ice.  Men sawed through the 18-20 inch thick ice.  Other men using long piked poles moved the ice through cut channels up to the ice house on Water Street.  In the late 90's a huge 'Ice Palace' was built on the lake opposite the present Water Plant.  The pinnacles, turrets, battlements, and drawbridges were fabricated by nearly 150 laborers.  The palace was even studded with a thousand electric lights.

Eber Howe founded Lake County's first newspaper in 1822.  He called it  The Painesville Telegraph and it survived until 1976 .  The first newspaper to be published in Fairport was known as the Harbor Gazette. Founded in 1921, Saul Olila was the driving force behind its inception.  1923 saw the Finnish newspaper Ammerikan Sanomat begin. John Hinkkanen and John G. Aho were the founders.  Another newspaper, The Fairport Beacon was published by Neal Katila beginning circa 1947.

Water Street
There was little water drunk on Water Street in its early days.  After the completion of the local ore docks , many hotels (saloons) sprang up on Water Street as part of the newly formed business district.  These saloons and dance halls were part of the early local lore.  Frisco's Barbary Coast, Brick Hall and Jones' Hall were well known establishments.
Many legit businesses were part of Water Street.  In its hey-day thirteen warehouses were located on Water Street.  A pump house, a machine house, and large Icehouse stood near the lake.  Two stores, E.E. Lawrence and The Marine Supply Company were also located on Water Street.

Plank Road
In 1849 an all plank road road was built over a new route from Fairport to Painesville.  Today the route is known as Richmond Street.

Perry's Victory Celebration
Perry's Victory on Lake Erie, in the War of 1812, was celebrated at Fairport on July 14, 1913.  The celebration, gigantic in scope, lasted all day.  A naval parade in the harbor and on the village streets took place.  The Perry battleship, Niagara was moored at the local dock.  A tent city, beach concessions outlets, and dedication of the Perry Memorial on South Bass Island highlighted the year's festivities.

The Light that Shone for 100 Years
Lake Erie and The Grand River made the area originally known as Grandon an important commercial hub.  An Act of Congress in 1825 commissioned the building of The Grand River Lighthouse at Fairport.  For the next one hundred years Samuel Butler, Joseph Smith, Joseph Babcock, a Civil War, immigration, and many other episodes in early American history allowed Fairport to witness first-hand the events of time.  Eight civic minded Fairporters elevated the village's history when their FH Historical Society, established in 1945 became the first-ever group to save a lighthouse from the wrecking ball; establish the first lighthouse museum on a lighthouse reservation; maintain the nautical sentiment and history of Fairport and The Great Lakes for the public using village volunteers for the last 67 years.  The lighthouse tower and museum (129 Second Street) remain open to the public today, a link connecting our current history with that of a by-gone era.

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