Monday, August 27, 2012

As Mentor Celebrates 50 Years - A look back at City Landmarks

The landscape of a community changes over the course of time.  Ask my aunt and uncle, both of whom are 90 years plus and Mentor is remembered mostly as a rural town. Their children attended JHS at Center Street, one attended HS at Memorial, another opened Ridge JHS, and two were the first to attend a new HS located on Center Street.  I grew up with a Mentor Recreation Park as a summer constant and participated in my high school varsity sports at the Mentor Memorial Stadium site.  As my relatives remember their past, I ask you today do you recall these Mentor Landmarks from years ago. Many are still visible as you drive the streets of your hometown.

The Mentor Post Office from 1921-1962 was located at the corner of Mentor Avenue and Hart Street.  Some will remember the one at Center Street next to the old village school.  Today the post office is located on Tyler Blvd.

St. Mary of the Assumption Church (second of three built) occupied the current PNC bank building at 8537 Mentor Avenue.  The present church was constructed in 1964 opposite the 1934 structure.  The original church building from 1868 currently is home to Temple Am Shalom ( 7599 South Center Street).

The Gray-Coulton House at 8607 Mentor Avenue was built in 1868.  Many businesses have been located there but history tells us it was first a seed store and grocery.  Famous names from the past included the R. N. Whitcomb Dry Goods Store and Snell's Grocery ( 1920-1936 and again circa 1961-62).

Mall shopping hit the Mentor landscape and debuted in 1961.  Acres of orchards near our family home were sacrificed for the DeBartolo vision.  I even remember the mall when it wasn't totally enclosed.  Some of the first retailers were Newberry Five & dime, Krogers, Cowell & Hubbard, Higbees,Petries, May Company, Winklemans, Bill's Clothes, Sears, J.C.Penny, Spencer Gifts, Gray Drug and Stanbough-Thompson Harware.  These names from the past have been replaced by Kaufmann's, Dillards, Horne's and Macy's over time.  Erie Commons came later in the '70s at the expense of Horton's Nursery I believe.  Zayre's and Gold Circle anchored the corner early on along with the current Giant Eagle.

2013 marks fifty years for Mentor as a city.  Eleven structures in Mentor are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bargain Fair is long gone.  The Mentor Avenue Drive-In where we watched 'The Godfather' is a distant memory. Target arose on the long familiar dealership site of Ed Pike .  In 2004 Center Street School not only closed but was sold off just two years later.  It doesn't seem like many years, but the Mentor of my youth has been transformed. Yet the many little gems still remain if you just take the time to look.

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