Mentor's place in Lake County history is unique. Settled in 1797, its 28 square miles makes it our county's largest city. Its school system is the largest and has garnered many outstanding accolades over the years. It is also leads the county with the most commercial and industrial sites . Yet for all its present 'first' rankings, Mentor does not truly rank very high in preserving its local history. Many other county cities and entities have their own historical societies and public collections. Some like Willoughby, Perry, Madison and Fairport have entire buildings dedicated to this purpose. Even Willoughby Hills, Wickliffe, and Eastlake have rooms in local governmental buildings reserved for its history.
Laurence H. Norton founded the Lake County Historical Society in 1938. He and a group of like-minded citizens sought to combine a chapter of the Western Reserve Historical Society with caring for the Garfield presidential homestead. By 1953, the LCHS incorporated on its own and remained at Garfield's home as stewards thru 1983, when the NPS took control. In that time, historical papers, archives, and Mentor artifacts came into their possession. However, no permanent or distinct Mentor Historical Society came into being.
2013 celebrates Mentor's 50th Anniversary. Lectures at Wildwood and various public programs will highlight the year. Landmarks, personalities, and trivia will mark numerous panel discussion and article topics. Below you will find five books that celebrate Mentor - Then and Now. Each may be found in the local library or at designated outlets for retail purchase. Since no permanent site may satisfy a visitor's curiosity, at least an informative read is possible.
"Roses to Retail" (2011) - Barbara Davis, a retired Mentor educator and life-long resident traces the history of her family, their local business, and the development of Mentor from a nursery laden village to large commercial city in the 1960's. Autobiographical and historical, the book merges two looks at Mentor and is well worth reading.
" Mentor: The First 200 Years" (1997) - Historical photos and text recall Mentor's early beginnings and gradual rise in the Lake County chapters of history.
"Mentor - a retrospect" (1988) - I enjoyed looking thru this book as its photos and captions captured various stages of Mentor's development. Some photos of local businesses and merchants are still permeate local discussions today.
" Here is Lake County" (1964) - Jack Daniels and a group of citizens compiled this history book detailing Mentor and all of Lake County in every phase of its development. While not specifically Mentor-centric, it is the definitive source of county information and worthy of a spot on your bookshelf.
"History of Mentor Headlands and Vicinity" - (1957) This history book is a rare find and source of pertinent county information. Headlands is often overlooked in many community stories but its importance and key role in many chapters of local history are detailed within its dust jacket.
Many of these books are on the 'stacks' at the Mentor Public Library, Morley Public Library, LCHS, and Fairport Harbor Historical Society. Some may be purchased online or at Mentor City Hall.