Monday, December 31, 2012

MMXIII --- Old Habits Die Hard

As 2012 draws to its end, I feel fortunate in many ways.  Having survived the Mayan apocalypse, I am once again free to pursue my annual New Year's Resolutions with full vigor.  In my youth, I grew up in a culture that saw family members and neighbors donate time to volunteering.  Whether it was at PS 14, St. Mary's Church, CYO, scouts, summer baseball , or local civic groups their support of this resolution made an impact.  As I look back, it was amazing how these small strides from my youth can become real game changers.  Their making a resolution to take on an extra task or volunteering twice a month for a good cause can blossom into something more meaningful than first expected.  In 2012 I continued this tradition.  Old habits die hard.  Since 1996 I have volunteered my time to a local lighthouse society.  Since 1997 I have volunteered time to 'Spirit of America', a free student boating education program.  Since 2000 I have donated many hours to Lake Metroparks programs.  Taking on that extra chore or task for a good cause has made all the difference.

Random acts of kindness and even the smallest act of goodness creates change and does have a cosmic effect.  So my first wish for all of you is to resolve!  Make a meaningful resolution- something you can stick with.  Take that first step.  Perhaps contact your local historical society or park system.  Volunteer - that way you can build on its success.  Share your resolution with friends or family.  This may motivate you to keep at it in 2013 when the going gets tough.  It may even get others to join in your resolution.

Secondly pay tribute to your local historical organizations.  Their contents, origins, library writings can provide you with a magical and seductive look into our county's past.  The vast ocean of literature and information now available digitally - via e-books, the Internet. etc. - poses a serious threat to the future of these physical structures.  These edifices and collections are likely to one day disappear, 'taking their phantoms with them.'  If you have a passion for history - actual sites - actual books - resolve in 2013 to visit these organizations.  More importantly - resolve to volunteer at these historical societies.  Your gift of time is a meaningful gift.  Your contribution will build on its success and may very well lead you to a better place.

Local Lore by Max will undergo a minor change in 2013.  Entries will be posted once weekly, on either Monday or Thursday.  Mentor's 50th Anniversary, Phantoms on the Bookshelf, and more hidden gems from Lake County will be featured.  Remember we are - Ohio's smallest county with the most history.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fairport Harbor Historical Society -- Volunteers Making a Difference

On March 2, 1945, a group of public-spirited citizens representing all civic, social, and cultural groups from the Village of Fairport met and organized the Fairport Harbor Historical Society.  Their initial goal may have been to save the Grand River Lighthouse, which had fallen on hard times since being decommissioned in 1925 after a century of use.  To this end their objective of establishing a marine museum in the lighthouse keeper's dwelling, rehabilitating the building for that purpose, and preserving the lighthouse as a historic monument became a reality on March 17, 1945.  By summer of that year, one room of the Fairport Marine Museum was opened and under way.  George Gedeon, president; George Henry, first vice president; E.H. Brown, second vice president; Lillian Luthanen, secretary; Irene Radike, treasurer; trustees Carroll Mitchell, John W. Laczko, Rev. Fr. Fabian Hoffman, Alma Saari and Joseph Guraly were elected.  The first membership role had 148 members.  On July 2, 1946, the Marine Museum was formally dedicated in a simple ceremony and three rooms were open to the public.  The FHHS was charged with preserving and perpetuating the historic sentiment of Fairport and the Great Lakes region.  In June, 1952 the Village of Fairport under the leadership of Mayor Arthur Ritari partnered to gain permanent title to the lighthouse for the express purpose of maintaining the historical society efforts.  Sixty-seven years have passed since that first calling.  A new group of volunteer officers and trustees hand down that which was handed down to them.  The membership role today totals 220, individuals and families.  The three displays rooms still contain navigational instruments, USLSS / USCG artifacts, uniforms, a lighthouse lifesaving car, foghorns, third order lens as well as marine charts and primary source photos.  The collection has grown to the point where displays are now thematically presented and rotated annually.  Civil War and War of 1812 collection items will be featured in 2013.  The second floor of the keeper's dwelling last housed a curator in 1991.  Today it is used as a library, archival collection room, and society meeting room.  The marine museum remains open to the public from late May through mid-September.  School and private tours as well as unique programming events remain core to the society's mission.

The Grand River Lighthouse at Fairport holds a special place in maritime history.  It is the first lighthouse to be saved from the wrecking ball.  It is the first marine museum in the U.S. situated on a lighthouse reservation.  Finally since 1945 it has been only volunteers who have taken care of Lake County's iconic National Historic Landmark.  No paid members have ever been on staff for the FHHS.  In 2012, approximately seventeen volunteers made a difference.  They donated over 4000 hours to caring for the lighthouse tower and keeper's dwelling.  Will 2013 be the  year you make the difference?

Charter Members Fairport Harbor Historical Society as of March 23, 1945

George I. Gedeon                    Hazel J. Farmer
Frieda Winchell                       Jane Elin Farmer
John W. Laczko                       J.V. Butterfield
Eero M. Liimakka                   Winona K. Zapp
Andrew H. Kraynik                Andrew Haynes
Maynard Hungerford             Mrs. Andrew Haynes
Rev. Fabian Hoffman             Elijah H. Brown
Jimmy Galm                           Lillian W. Luthanen
Carroll Mitchell                      Mrs. B.F. Harris
Irene Radike                           B.F. Harris
Pearl E. Killinen                    Robert Orosz
Matt Killinen Sr.                   Mrs. Andrew Haynes
Bernard L. Farmer                Mr. and Mrs. John Zimny

Contact Information-
Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse
129 Second Street
Fairport Harbor, Ohio 44077

Monday, December 24, 2012

' At Christmas, All Roads Lead Home '

Some of my favorite Christmas Quotations -

There has been only one Christmas - the rest are just anniversaries
                                                                              W. J. Cameron

At Christmas, all Roads lead home
                              Marjorie Holmes

Have Yourself a merry little Christmas, make the Yuletide gay
                                                                                        Ralph Gay

Christmas waves a magic wand over the world and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful
                                                                                               Norman Vincent Peale

Local Lore's message to all Lake County...

Joyeaux Noel                                      Vesele vianoce

                                 Merry Christmas

Froehliche Weihnachten                  Buone Feste Natalizie

Hyvaa joulua                Feliz Navidad

                       Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket

Thursday, December 20, 2012

1812 Key Dates in Fairport Harbor 2012 -- 'The Second Hundred Years'

Last week we examined the key events in Fairport's first hundred years.   Native American tribes, LaSalle the explorer, Joseph Smith of Kirtland and Mormom history, the USLSS, and the Underground Railroad all had roots in the history of Village of Fairport.  As the bicentennial year draws to its conclusion, lets look at highlights from the second hundred years.

                     1812-- Key Dates in Fairport Harbor --2012  Part II

  • 1903  Zion Church Cemetery established
  • 1903  Plum Street School constructed
  • 1910  Plum Street School fire
  • 1912  Diamond Alkali Era begins
  • 1915  USCG formed - Station Fairport established
  • 1918  St. Clair Street Bridge disaster
  • 1921  Dr. Amy Kaukonen - first women mayor in Ohio
  • 1921  Fairport High School built
  • 1922  Fairport Library organized
  • 1925  West Breakwater Lighthouse completed
  • 1935  Fairport Library building finished - CWA project
  • 1937  Indian Village unearthed in Fairport
  • 1938  Chestnut Street block party*
  • 1941  Mardi Gras era begins (*outgrowth of '38 event)
  • 1945  Fairport Harbor Historical Society established
  • 1946  Samuel Huntington Beach property deeded to Fairport
  • 1952  Project to save the beach began
  • 1953  Village and FHHS partner to save original Village lighthouse
  • 1956  Fairport Harbor Port Authority established
  • 1959  Morton Salt Company - Fairport Mine opened
  • 1959 'Harbor' is added to Fairport name
  • 1960  Fairport 'Skippies' - national football champions
  • 1976  The Diamond Shamrock closes
  • 1990  Lake Metroparks leases Huntington Beach property
  • 2012 Village Bicentennial

Book Credits -  Hometown Sketches -1936, Fairport Harbor, Ohio -1976, The Story of Fairport -1946, Fairport Harbor - 2003
FHHS contributors include Julia Lehto, Dan Maxson, Louise Nagy, John Ollila, Tom Ruffner, Helen Kasari-emeritus

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hidden Gems in Historic Downtown Painesville - Gartman Model Bakery and other Local Landmarks

History comes to us in all manners possible.  Quite often the changing landscape and architecture of today makes it difficult to notice the hidden gems from the past.  Last Saturday morning I had the opportunity to frequent some local businesses located in Historic Downtown Painesville.  While on my errands that morning, my wife and I experienced a walk back in time.  Here are four local landmarks worth visiting on your next trip into Painesville.  The building architecture, family owners, and products offered are sure to make a lasting impression.

Gartman Model Bakery -  30 N. State Street
This bakery has been in business since 1898.  Family owned and operated since 1917, this third generation bakery offers 'scratch made' baked goods second to none.  A visit this December will feature truly unique Santa cookies, Gingerbread cookies and houses.  Donuts, cookies and freshly baked bread range from 25 cents to under $2.00.  Notice the bakery interior and old time photos.

Joughin Hardware - 20 S. State Street
Since 1877 this family run hardware store has served the Lake County community.  The building interior alone is worth a visit.  Couple that with every imaginable hardware service or product needed and one will come back time and again.

Nemeth's Lounge - 40 N. State Street
In existence since 1941, this lounge was voted the best non-commercial jukebox site in N.E. Ohio in 2005.  Joe Nemeth hand loads the jukebox himself.  Pithy pins like 'It's hard to be humble when you are from Painesville' adjorn the walls.  A visit here adds another link to the unbroken chain established over eight decades ago.

Bitzer's Furniture - 19 S. Saint Clair
Closed some years ago, this furniture store which began in 1915 is now home to Cards & Games Inc. / Dean's Card Shop.  The original freight elevator inside is worth the visit alone.  The current proprietor has a memorabilia and sporting artifacts collection suitable to all generations.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

1812 Key Dates in Fairport Harbor 2012 --- 'The First Hundred Years'

2012 has been a signature year for the Village of Fairport Harbor.  As its bicentennial year winds down, it is only appropriate to look back over time and recall some key events in their history.  Today we examine its first hundred years.

                     1812 -- Key Dates in Fairport Harbor --2012

  • 1200-1654  Erie Indians settlements in area
  • 1669  French discover Lake Erie
  • 1679  LaSalle 'Griffin' Expedition
  • 1779  Moses Cleaveland surveyed area
  • 1812  Grandon is established
  • 1818  Walk-in-the-Water - first steamboat on Lake Erie
  • 1825  Lighthouse at Grandon is built, first piers constructed
  • 1825-1860  Abolitionism and Underground Railroad links to Village
  • 1826  Schooner 'United States' - first ship built in Fairport
  • 1836  Grandon is renamed Fairport
  • 1838  East Beacon Light built
  • 1845  Fairport builds schooner 'Madeline'
  • 1868-1870  Nitroglycerine Company - Era in Infamy
  • 1869  First Fairport Church constructed - Congregational Church on the Square
  • 1870  Cavier & Fairport
  • 1871  Lighthouse at Fairport is rebuilt
  • 1875  New beacon light constructed
  • 1876  USLSS - Station Fairport established
  • 1885  Ore docks established
  • 1889  Village government reappears

This timeline is posted on the Fairport Harbor Historical Society / Fairport Lighthouse and Marine Museum website -  Some 26 historical blogs retelling the history of the village appear under 'Local Lore by Max' on the News-Herald or Historical Society websites.  Most entries appeared on Thursdays in 2012.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kirtland Hills and Leonard C. Hanna, Jr.

In the history of Kirtland Hills, perhaps the most famous estate is that of Leonard C. Hanna, Jr.  Its story dates back to 1492.  In 1923, the John Wanamaker store in Philadelphia arranged the purchase of three stone houses in England.  The homes were disassembled and imported to America. One of these stone houses found its way to the County Line Road estate of Edmund S. Burke.  Burke, a wealthy Cleveland industrialist and Chairman of the Fourth Federal Reserve District used the former Philadelphia structure as a guest house.  The stone house, which dates to 1492 was reconstructed in 1925 and eventually found its way to its current location when Hanna purchased and re-erected it for a third time it in 1945.  The Kirtland Hills Hanna estate occupied 300 acres and was laid out in the style of an English feudal village.  A pool, covered bridge, guest houses, sheep barns, caretakers cottage, gate house and numerous other out buildings were also constructed.  Most faced Little Mountain Road.  Leonard Hanna and his family were one of Cleveland's wealthiest.  His fortunes were based on iron ore, coal, and Great Lakes shipping interests.  Hanna, a known philanthropist donated in excess of $100,000 to charitable causes. Hanna entertained many of his closest friends at his Kirtland Hills estate.  Their names are a Who's Who of American Entertainment - Cole Porter, Gene Tunney, Gloria Swanson, and Joan Crawford.  Hanna even let local families swim in his pool on Sunday afternoons.  Hanna's passing in 1957 resulted in the estate being subdivided by Gerald Wearsch.  New homes now dot the former Hanna property.  The original stone house, circa 1492 still remains and is privately owned.

Information was gleaned from Janet Murfey's 1988 compilation  - A Brief History of Kirtland Hills

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Get into the Yuletide Mood with these 'Free' Lake County Holiday Traditions

'Everything is free' is a phrase seldom heard much these days.  However the Holiday Spirit is alive and well in Lake County.  Following up on Monday's blog of uniquely free-to-the public holiday events, here are some additional annual free community events to revel in. So once again, let's delight in the details...

Burning River Brass - On December 13, Painesville United Methodist Church on the Square will host its annual concert series holiday tradition.  The eleven member brass ensemble will deliver a 7pm program featuring arrangements of their best jazz and most popular festive cheer.  Arrive early as seating is limited!

Fairport Harbor Public Library Holiday Programs -  If you missed the Fairport Harbor Grinch Visit last weekend, not to worry as several upcoming programs are equally enjoyed by all who visit the village.  No registration is required for these events and everyone is invited to participate: sleepers, crawlers, and wanderers.  December 6 is a program titled Love Soup while on December 11,12,13 the ever popular 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' and other favorites program will be offered.  Times are 10, 1 and Wednesday at 6:30pm.  Contact the library at 440-354-8191 with questions.

Christmas at the Lake County History Center -  A 'One Magic Christmas Tea' is being held on December 8.  'A Children's Victorian Christmas' is new in 2012 and being held on December 29.  All month long will feature lavish Victorian decorations throughout the center.  Holiday visitors and company can wander through over two dozen rooms of this former 1876 County Home.  Call 440-639-2945 for more information.

Additional community programs-
Sounds of Christmas - A 4pm Concert on December 16 -Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Madison.
The Christmas Post - A musical drama set in 1947 is being held on  December 14 and 16 at Erieside Church in Willowick. Call 440-943-0151 for more details.
Christmas Concert - Dulcimers, bells, and more - 3pm on December 8 at the Pilgrim Christian Church in Chardon.
A Christmas Concert -  Cleveland Institute of Music pianists and musicians will be featured at 6pm on December 9 at the first convenant Church in Willoughby Hills.  All are welcome.

Monday, December 3, 2012

'Everything's Free' Holiday Traditions Continue in Lake County this week

Last weekend saw three Holiday Traditions continue.  On December 1st, Harbor Holidays and the Grinch Event at Fairport Harbor Lighthouse took place.  In excess of 500 people attended the evening Grinch reading on Second Street.  December 2nd witnessed the continuation of one of Lake County's most beloved family tours.  The Lake County Historical Society held their annual bus tour.  Five unique sites were visited and a 'cookie tin' and holiday cookie awaited guests.  St. Gabriel's Church in Concord Twp. held its annual Handel's Messiah Chorus program.  Over 185 volunteer voices came together to pratice for nearly two months to bring the musical classic about the Life of Christ to the public.

This first full week of December offers some more traditional favorites for all to experience.  Both are free so lets delight in the details-

Unto Us a Son is Given -  The tenth anniversary nativity exhibit at Historic Kirtland is now open to the public beginning at 9am Monday through Saturday and from 11:30am-8pm on Sundays.  Nativity exhibits fill the visitor center and adjacent red schoolhouse.  This event is in its tenth year and has garnered many awards, including a designation as one of North America's top 100 events.  New in 2012 is a retelling of the age-old Christmas story, first done by St. Francis of Assisi almost 800 years ago.  St. Francis, dismayed by the material turn of Christmas, sought to bring back the people with the simple awe of Jesus' birth in a manger.  An 8-foot-long nativity in the Neapolitan style created by South Euclid sculptor Norbert Koehn is 2012's newest nativity.  True to the 18th century fashionings, Koehn, a student at Oberammergau, Germany spent over 180 hours creating his masterwork.  This Naples, Italy nativity and hundreds of other old favorites will be on display for free through December 30th.

Boar's Head Festival -  Another unique event, free to the public takes place this Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday at Painesville's Zion Lutheran Church.  Over 90 costumed volunteers will tell the story of Christ as celebrated in the Middle Ages manor of King Wenceslas.  The devil is personified in the image of a Boar's Head.  A Yule Log, Yule Sprite, and festive musical tribute will move the audience gathered through the journey of the One who has come to set man free from the devil.  Four performances are scheduled and free to the public.

Thursday will look at some other upcoming free productions in Painesville, Painesville Twp. , Fairport Harbor and other local communities.