Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: A Portal Into Fairport's Past

    Oftentimes little gems of local lore can be just as fascinating as major moments in time.  Today's blog examines some back stories gleaned from historical text or photos about Fairport Harbor.

The First Truck -  Purchased about 1910 or 1912 it was a Chase.  Manufactured in Syracuse, N.Y. it arrived in Painesville and was Lake County's first motorized vehicle. Delivered to Fairport by a factory representative, it was bought by local businessman Matt Tuuri .  Tuuri was the proprietor of the Fairport Bakery and used his truck to travel the roads of Lake, Ashtabula and Geauga Counties.  Said to be the local P.T. Barnum, Tuuri and his bulldog 'Tom' had a team of spirited horses follow his truck in case the mires and ruts ditched his vehicle.

Islands in Grand River - Two islands once stood where the limestone docks are now located.  The western island was called Averill's Island; while the eastern island, which was the larger, was known as Grass Island.  The island further up the river was known as Ram Island and still remains.

Walnut Hill-  The hill on Third Street on which the Village Hall once sat was known for the large number of walnut trees that grew there.  Today the old Village Hall and former Senior Center is home to the Finnish Heritage Museum.  Walnut Trees still may be found throughout the village landscape and stand as tributes to a by-gone Fairport era.

Warehouses - Thirteen warehouses were located on the river front in Fairport's heydey.  Samuel Huntington built the first.  Twice lightkeeper Samuel Butler constructed the second.   The last of the old warehouses was erected in 1846 by Col. J.R. Morse and served the community for 16 years.

Steamboat Race -  June 4, 1901 marked a unique moment in village history.  Schools were closed and local business suspended for the day as the entire population witnessed a lakefront event.  A steamboat race between the Tashmoo of Detroit and the City of Erie, of Cleveland took place.  Over $50,000 was wagered on this Cleveland to Erie race.  The City of Erie won by a mere 45 seconds.

Riverside - Was the name of the Skinner Home.  Located at the corner of Skinner Avenue and St. Clair Street, during the gay-nineties, this estate was the summer resort of the wealthy.  Room and board ran $10 weekly for a single, $15 for a double.  Boating, hunting, walking paths and games of the day were highlights of visitor sojourns.

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