Monday, August 26, 2013

Brief Portals in Time -- The Shore Club

Purchased in 1897 a property lying centrally east and west about 300 feet back of the lake bank began its brief history.  Known as 'The Shore Club', it comprised 150 acres and was formerly the L.L. Lanthrop and Charles Smart Family Farms.  The Club was located at the intersection of the former Huntington Road and Fairport-Nursery Roads.  The idea was to develop an area of summer homes on the bluffs.  Thus the Lake Erie Land Company was formed in 1898 and  an arched stone pillar with ironworks sign 'Shorelands' affixed, signaled the start of the dream.

It was a dream meant not to be.  Rock, salt water, ice hummock and other issues plagued its progress.  Insufficient  financial backing and lack of individual club memberships hampered its growth.  Construction did start in 1899 and by 1900 two cottages were in place, the Scott and Harper lots.  In year three, some other families joined the club.  They were the Merrills, Grants, Averys, Harrisons, Barnes, and Mrs. Winsor.  Membership did not grow much after this but the 'core' remained active in ensuing summers.

1910 signaled the beginning of the end as the Diamond Alkali Company bought the large tract of land about a mile west of their club.  Controversy arose right from the start.  While no one was disagreeable at first to the company's arrival, its rapid growth, odors, and vegetation effects soon were felt.  Cleveland's rise to industrial center and the nostalgic idealism of the Lake County cottage communities were at the crossroads.  The early New England Village flavor was waning.  Industrialization, immigration, and the mechanized future guaranteed 'The Shore Club' would soon become a footnote in history.  Friday's Lady Day, Thimble Parties, Saturday Night Dances, tennis, croquet, and stables faded from memory and 'The Shore Club' footprint disappeared in the ensuing two decades.

Source -  Percy Kendall Smith article, August 1967, FHHS archives

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles - Painesville's Robert Manchester and the Utopia Theater

As personalities and institutions go, Robert Manchester (Bobby) was as pronounced as they could come.  In Lake County and Painesville specifically the name resonates today.  Aaron Mills was born in New York in 1853.  His widowed mom moved the family to Painesville to open a glove store.  Aaron may have initially been best remembered for his Fourth of July fireworks spectaculars, just east of his Cemetery Hill home.  The valley along State and Bank Street would be lined with residents awaiting his efforts.  However, it was his gift of music that consumed his entire lifetime. 

At the age of nine he joined a theatrical company.  Billed as 'Little Bobby Manchester' Aaron performed song and dance.  By the age of 19 he was touring the country.  In time he bought into the Columbus Amusement Company, a company whose holdings numbered 36 theaters throughout the U.S.  Bobby owned and managed three shows, Masqueraders, Vanity Fair and The Crackerjacks.  His main and for  most of the time his only business was 'The Crackerjacks.'  The show was a traveling burlesque troupe which performed in downtown Cleveland at the Star Theater on Euclid Avenue and Ninth.  His annual visit to Cleveland was widely anticipated by his Painesville neighbors.  Bobby obliged and left seats on a block basis for them.  He even secured special cars on the C.P. & E. to transport his friends downtown.

Bobby's affinity for his hometown reached its zenith when he constructed the Utopia Theater in Painesville.  Its scale and scope were unsurpassed in the county.  Opened in 1914, it cost nearly $75, 000.  Bobby Manchester  appeared regularly and his theater thrived and survived until the Lake Theater replaced it decades later.

Source: The Historical Society Quarterly, May 1969 & LCHS newsletter 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles : Charles Wallace Heard -L.C.'s other famous Architect

Charles Wallace Heard (1806-1876) arrived in Painesville as a youngster from Onondaga, New York.  Apprenticed at age sixteen to architect Jonathan Goldsmith, he resided with the Goldsmith family in the 'Old Homestead' on Mentor Avenue.  The Goldsmith residence was an old Greek Revival style dwelling and stood on the current Lake County Fair site until it burned down in 1875.  Charles wed in 1830 to Goldsmith's daughter Caroline.  A brick home in the Federal style was built by Goldsmith for the couple and still stands at 9647 Mentor Avenue.

Opportunity presented itself in 1833 in Cleveland.  Heard became a journeymen for Sherlock J. Anderson and in time a father of eight.  Heard was commissioned to build the Giddings House on Public Square at Ontario Street.  The home was in the Greek Revival style.  1849 saw Heard build a Gothic style home for Henry B. Payne on Euclid Avenue.  Heard partnered with Simeon C. Porter and their firm built the three downtown churches that once stood on Public Square. Two were Gothic in design, the other Romanesque.  St. Paul's, Second Presbyterian and the Old Stone Church were their names.  One remains today- the Old Stone Church.  The Hinman Barrett Hurlbut estate was another Euclid Avenue mansion designed by Heard.

Heard assisted in the construction of the Lake Erie Female Seminary in Painesville (Lake Erie College) and laid the cornerstone in 1857.  Heard and new partner Walter Blythe completed Lake County's St. James Episcopal Church in 1866.  The St. Clair Street School followed. Next came the Eagle Street School and the Jennings Place on Casement Avenue in Painesville.

Now at the age of 66, Heard concluded his storied career with three final efforts.  They were the Euclid Avenue Opera House (1875), Ohio Building (1875), and Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, completed just before his passing in 1876.

Source- Elizabeth G. Hitchcock 1967 article for the Historical Society Quarterly

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Western Reserve and Mentor Township

September 14, 1786 was the date that brought about an end to a land claim debate that had begun as early as 1776 and festered into 1781.  At the heart of the dispute lay Connecticut's claim to a tract of land that became known as the Western Reserve.  The Western Reserve now awaited the emigration of New Englanders.  Early Lake County history was in the making.  Moses Cleaveland came west by 1796.  Long established Indian lands were purchased at little cost and by 1805 their territories lost to the annals of history.  The Indian stories are left for another day.  Mentor Township's early pioneers were soon to arrive.

1796 marked the arrival of John Milton Holley who surveyed what in time would become the Mentor Township.  In 1797 Charles Parker settled near Lake Shore and Hopkins Road in what was known as the Marsh Settlement.  Ebenezer Merry arrived that same year and located nearby in the Headlands area..  Tract 14 near Corduroy Road was given to Caleb Atwater, Oliver Phelps and Gideon Granger in 1803.  Other families to arrive in that same era were  Jesse Phelps, Jared Ward and Moses Park.  By 1810 the Mentor Marsh settlement was growing.  Other early settlers to arrive were John Miller, Jonathan Russell, Clark Parker, Joseph Sawyer, Warren Corning and the Hopkins Brothers.  Ben and Daniel Hopkins bought nearly 500 acres and their lake shore acreage was known as Hopkins Point.  J. Rider's Tavern became a stagecoach stop, soon thereafter making the area a viable hub of the time.  Pioneer John Walworth of Painesville had Mentor Township claims.

Mentor Township was organized in 1815.  Grandison Newell arrived in the township in 1819.  Newell and Chester Hart purchased the 'Farm' and began manufacturing plows.  A saw mill and chair factory followed.  Capitalism was underway in earnest.  Newell achieved even more notariety for his battles with the Mormons and for 'blacklisting' Joseph Smith.  The Munson Family arrived in 1820 via covered wagons.

Munson and Hopkins are two street names known by any Mentor motorist.  Parker is another name steeped in Mentor history.  The Corning House still stands.  Newell, the 'Mormon Persecutor' is also well known in county history.  It seems that Mentor Township, 1815 is a county shoreline that runs through time and history.

Source-  June 4, 1975 bicentennial speech by Harry F. Lupold.