Monday, January 28, 2013

Lost Airfields of Lake County - Cook Cleland Airport

Cook Cleland was born in 1916 in Cleveland, Ohio.  As a boy, Cook was fascinated by the  National Air Races (1920-1949), which were held eight times in Cleveland from 1929-1939.  Cook Cleland was a highly decorated Naval Aviator in WWII and Korea.  This love of flying and keen memories of air races came into play in his post war years.  Cleland was the Thompson Trophy Air Race winner in 1947 and 1949.  Thompson, predecessor to TRW sponsored the 10 mile long - 50' altitude race until 1952.  On hiatus until 1962, it reemerged as the Cleveland National Air Show in 1964.  Cleland returned from WWII to open his own commercial airport and flight school.

Cook Cleland Airport, aka Willoughby Airport and later Euclid Avenue Airport was established circa 1929-1933.  Located at Euclid Avenue and E. 355th Street , it sat on a 100 acre property with three runways.  Numerous aviation projects and restorations marked his tenure there.  Cleland even hosted the 1950 Air Show at his site.  The Korean War saw Cleland return to active military service.  His airport closed in 1952 after his lease expired.  1954 marked its last footnote in aviation annals.  The Bidler Road section of the airport eventually became a small industry corridor.  However as late as recent years still finds the hanger of sixty years ago intact.

information gleaned from

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lake County Landmark - The 'Read' House in Mentor

At 8245 Mentor Avenue you will notice the remnants of old stone wall, lovely rhododendrons and the front of a 1868 Gothic Revival Style home (center core, first and second floors).  Today it is known as The Read House.  Purchased by the Mentor Public Library in 2009, it is used now as a community programming and outreach center.  What is not known by many is the history of this 1968 Heritage Home (#61).  Today we explore the history of this local landmark.

The property now owned by the Mentor Public library is just 1.33 acres.  In 1840 it was part of a 55 acre parcel owned by Elias Randall.  In 1845 the property was transferred to Orrin Loomis.  Oscar Loomis inherited the property in 1857, then valued at just over $300.  A 1865 report indicates the property was reduced to 10 acres that year.  1867 begins the storied history of the house now standing on Mentor Avenue.  H.C. King built the Gothic Style Revivial structure (porches came later).  It remained in his possession through 1900 when Laura C. Harris gained title.  George N. Dow took title in 1912.  Alice Harshaw was granted the title in 1928 and held it until 1940 when Hoyt P. Downing assumed ownership.  Just two years later J.R. Reed became the titleholder.  Mrs. Catherine Reed held onto the home until its sale in 2009.

If you wander the property or visit the house during a library program, much is worth noting.  Interior-wise a fireplace circa 1950, cabinetry, and leaded glass windows circa 1989 are noteworthy.  An outside sojourn will reveal remnants of a stone wall entrance that at one time connected a 300' iron fence.  The rhododendron bushes came from England in 1912 when the Dow family resided there.  A barn structure that at one time housed four horses is part of the history of the property.  Likewise an ice house was present.  Cut ice came from Newell Pond, part of Mentor Recreation Park/Garfield Park.

The 'Read' House is just another hidden gem in the annals of Lake County history.  Stop by in 2013 and celebrate Mentor's Fiftieth Anniversary with a visit to this local landmark.

**Information for this article was taken from the Mentor Public Library website and a document history of the home dated 3/9/68.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Little Town of Willoughby

Located in Section K, Row 28, Stone 28 of the Willoughby Village Cemetery is the tombstone of Minnie E. Carrel.  It is no different than most other tombstones.  A name and dates mark the passing of a local resident.  Minerva Butler was born in Lake County in April 1862.  She married F. Carrel and had five children.  She died in September 1938.  Her legacy was a poem in her 1923 book titled Fireside Poems.  The poem described a little town Carrel knew.  It described a school campus, with trees and a flagstaff.  It mentioned a triangular park at the center of town.  It recalled war monuments and a brick building that bears her family name.  The little town she recalled is Willoughby. It has been decades since her passing.  Her little town of Willoughby has changed, but many familiar local landmarks remain.  Her book of poems is still on the racks at Morley Public Library and other libraries throughout the U.S.  Her poem even graces the foreword of Willoughby's History Book (2012).  Here is her dedication to her hometown.

                                  The Little Town of Willoughby

                                 To the little town of Willoughby,
                                 Where I have dwelt so long,
                                 I will dedicate a corner
                                 In the volume of my song.

                                Where nature has painted with lavish hand,
                                The woods and valleys fair,
                                With the deepest green of springtime;
                                 And autumn tints most rare.

                                The Campus, where trees a century old
                                Lift their proud heads to the skies
                                And high above, from the old flagstaff
                                To the breeze, Old Glory flies.

                               Underneath in the cooling shade,
                               Obscured from the summer's sun,
                               Is the monument we chiseled
                               For the boys of sixty-one.

                               On this sacred spot, in the year eighteen,
                               How well we remember the day,
                               We bade farewell to the khaki boys,
                               ' Ere they gallantly marched away.

                              Then we made a new memorial,
                              Moistened deep with mother's tears,
                              For the brave young lads who'll come not
                              Through all the weary years.

                             Yes, there are memories, dear old town,
                             That we never can forget,
                             Although our feet may wander far,
                             Our hearts stay with you yet.

                            These eyes of mine shall ne'er behold
                            A landscape half so fair,
                            Until I cross the river
                            To that city Over There.

                                                          Minnie E. Carrel 
                                                          Fireside Poems - 1923

Monday, January 7, 2013

Behind the Ropes Tours at Garfield NHS

Some Notable Facts about James A. Garfield
  • James A. Garfield was Western Reserve Eclectic Institute / Hiram College's most famous alumnus.  From 1856-58, he also served the college as a classics instructor and principal.
  • In 1862, Garfield became the Union Army's youngest general.  He was only 32.
  • Garfield purchased the Dickey Farm at 8095 Mentor Avenue in 1876.  Originally the Col. Warren Corning home, c. 1832 it was known as the Mentor Farm before reporters renamed it Lawnfield during Garfield's 1880 Presidential Campaign.
  • Garfield's Family Windmill towers 60 feet above its stone base.  Constructed in 1864 it pumped water into a 500 barrel tank where it was gravity fed into the 300 gallon third floor holding tank to be used throughout the Garfield home accordingly.
  • The 'Porch' in 1880 became the platform for Garfield to greet neighbors and well wishers during his presidential campaign.
  • James A. Garfield was the only President in U.S. history elected to the White House while a sitting member of the House of Representatives.  When elected President in November 1880, he was also a Senator-elect. He never took his seat in the Senate, but instead took the oath of office as 20th President on March 4, 1881.
James A. Garfield occupies a special place in both Presidential and Lake County history.  Beginning January 12 and offered again in subsequent months will be a 'Behind the Ropes Tour' at Garfield's home.  The tour will be unique in that it will allow guests to visit rooms normally not open to the public.  Visitors will also be able to see and handle some of the home's unique artifacts.  The tour begins at 11am and reservations are recommended.

Contact information:  or 440.205.3838

Friday, January 4, 2013

'Fifty and Counting' Mentor at 2013

Drive the streets of Mentor and it is easy to forget that the city you see today is relatively young.  In fact on December 18 of this year it will be celebrating just its fiftieth anniversary.  Prior to 1963, Mentor whose name was taken from Greek literature was a village, a township, America's Nurseryland, and much more.  Mentor's website alludes to a heritage tour.  Let's recall some local landmarks as Mentor celebrates 50.  Here are just a few of the often overlooked historical city landmarks in our daily travels about town.
  • Mentor's oldest home is located at 7597 Center Street
  • The first public library building sits at Center Street and Nowlen Street
  • Mentor's first manufacturing plant - Hart Nut & Washer Company (aka Mentor Knitting Mills, Lake Shore Chemical Company, Columbia Match Factory) still stands on Station Street
  • Col. Warren Corning's c.1832 Dickey Farm on Mentor Avenue still stands today and was purchased by James A. Garfield in the 1800's.
  • Fire Station #1 on Jackson Street is now a museum
  • Wildwood - J. Oliver House c. 1908 on Little Mountain is a link to the Mentor's Gilded Age
  • Wayside and C. Merkel (1916), Klyn (1921), J. Fracci (1922), Wyat and Castello (1925), Bosley (1928) were all nurserymen who made Mentor - America's Nursery Center for decades.
  • Mentor Lumber c. 1922 still exists
  • Center Street School (former Mentor Village School) c. 1914
  • Village Hall and Gramma 'G'
  • Havel salvages the George Ball estate greenhouse and relocates it as part of his business in 1937
  • Headlands State Park (former Painesville Beach -1952-53) begins in '55, closed in '57, reopened in '67
  • Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve
  • Mentor Yacht Club c. 1926
  • Mentor Marsh is dedicated by Cleveland Museum of Natural History in 1973
As 2013 unfolds we will continue to celebrate Mentor's '50th' and its place in county history and local lore.