Monday, April 29, 2013

Mentor @ 50 ---- Anniversary Lecture Series concludes in May with final three installments

We all come from the past.  This line from Russell Baker's 1982 memoir "Growing Up" resonates across all generations and certainly is appropriate for all residents in Mentor in 2013.  The things hidden and the things unsaid can be framed in a series of three lectures that move through important periods in Mentor's history.  All programs are free but as was the case in April, registration is required.  All lectures will be at Wildwood Cultural Center and will begin at 7pm.  Call 440-974-5735 to register or for more information.

Thursday, May 2, 2013 ---  From "Roses to Retail" with Barbara Davis
I have met author Barbara Davis and have read her 2011 book.  Her book describes 'Growing Up in Mentor' when nurseries dotted the village landscape, Mentor High was still on Mentor Avenue, Mentor Recreation Park was every kid's summer home, retail development was just in its infancy, and many former local businesses were common knowledge.  Come listen to her share her childhood memories and career as a resident of Mentor. A 'Mentor Memories' Board and time capsule will be added to.

Thursday, May 9, 2013 --- History as We Lived It
First hand accounts and turning points in Mentor's development will be the theme of this lecture program.  Join Carl Janz, Ed Podijil, Bill Boyd, and Jim Hackenberg for an evening of memories, both national and local that affected the City of Mentor.

Thursday, May 23,2013 --- Visions for the Future-Mentor: The Next 50 Years
Community leaders and elected officals will reveal their perspectives on the growth of Mentor and what possibilities the next 50 years may offer.  Gramma 'G' had a vision in 1952 that shaped the landscape of Mentor for the last 50 years.  This lecture will offer an opportunity for attendees to voice their views of the future.  A commemorative program will be given to those attending.

These free programs link the legacy of Mentor's past to visions of its future.  Memories of  Mentor's ever changing landscape and growth from a small nursery driven village setting to one of a city with incredible retail development are not to be missed.  Come and hear the stories of your hometown Thursdays in May starting this week!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Perry Cemetery -- Another Walk Through History

Perry, Ohio occupies a small portion of the Lake County landscape. Settlers came to the area from the Western Reserve in the early 1800's.  Named for the famous naval commander Oliver H. Perry, who led the American forces to victory in the War of 1812, Perry, Ohio is perhaps best known today for its nursery history.  However, a more detailed chapter of its history may be found at the corner of Center and Middle Ridge Road.  The property deeded to the Perry Christian Church in 1805 is that of the Perry Cemetery.  Here another history lesson is there for the taking.

Many of the early travelers and settlers to the Western Reserve were of New England stock.  They followed a usual custom and buried their dead on grounds on their farm property.  However this practice changed and many family cemeteries became extinct.  Examples from a LCGS(OHIO) Project of Perry sites lost to time recalled these former grounds - Call Road Burying Grounds, Lemuel Ellis Cemetery, Mayers Woods, Palmer Cemetery, Parmley Cemetery, Ramsey Burying Ground, and the Axtell Farm Cemetery.  One site still remains.

Steel Archways mark the entrance to the Perry Cemetery.  Records indicate the cemetery was officially established in 1848.  Ezra Beebe, a Revolutionary War veteran and widely acclaimed first settler is buried in the cemetery.  Some dispute still persists as to his remains as it is also reported that the Call Road Cemetery and Lionidas Axtell Farm site were resting places for Beebe too.

An 1880 vault will catch your eye as you walk through history.  The vault, once used to store bodies in winter until the spring thaw, remembers those Civil War veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Inscribed on the vault are the names of B. Bartholomew, H. Brown, Erastus Gray, Ebenezer Joy, W. Malone, T. Hickok, J. Howrey, J. Johnson, M.O. Mallory, A.H. Nash, and G. Tatro.  Revolutionary War veterans Lemuel Ellis and Caleb Sweet are also noted.

Other notable Perry residents to be found in the cemetery archives include James Rutherford (1986) - driver for Elliott Ness, and Ann Cook Whitman (1991) - secretary to Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Forgotten Stories on the Grand River

If Fairport Harbor is one of N.E. Ohio's best kept secrets, then the local boat clubs on the west and east banks of the Grand River are even more so. With Headlands State Park on one side and the protected harbor of Huntington Beach on the other, it was easy to see why recreational boating interests grew in the mid 1900's, just as the commercial fortunes of the area began to wane.  Mentor Harbor Yacht Club and Mentors Lagoons have been featured in earlier blogs.  Today we highlight three hidden gems situated on the Grand River less than 2 miles from the Lake.

Fairport Harbor Yacht Club
In April, 1949 a meeting of several local men at the Sunset Soda Bar on Lake Road in Painesville resulted in the start of a boating club.  Hiram Laird was the founder and first president.  J. Donald Smith, Carl J. Stokes, and John Killinen were the remaining officers.  Occupying the old B&O Railroad Company property, the club was first known as The Outboard Boating Club of Lake County.  A ladies auxiliary followed in 1951 as the club grew.  In time the powerboat focus of the everyman club gave way to other vessels.  1953 saw a Quonset Clubhouse constructed for members.  In 1957, the club leased the adjacent island property from the Diamond Alkali.  Twenty years later they bought the site outright.  A name change in '68 gave the club its current moniker - The Fairport Harbor Yacht Club.  The mainland property (1949) was acquired in 1979 to complete the FHYC holdings.

Grand River Sailing Club
Formed in 1972, the foundling members came from the Grand River Yacht Club, Fairport Harbor Yacht Club, as well as from other Grand River marinas of the day.  Located on Water Street in Fairport Harbor, the club occupies the old 19th c. coal dock location owned by the railroad.  Dinghys and moorings were the norm in the early years.  Nick Frankovich leased the property and is generally credited with putting in the first docks.  During the decade of the '80s, Jerome T. Osborne gained control of the site and made many of the changes currently in place.

Grand River Yacht Club
Since 1940 the club has been located on River Street on the west bank of the Grand River.  Fifty slips, a pool, patio, and newly constructed clubhouse (2009) comprise the club assets.  Within walking distance of two local Grand River seafood houses, its reciprocal docking arrangements with many boating and yacht clubs make it a popular destination.

sources - Dennis Steffy,, and

Friday, April 12, 2013

Another Lake County Vignette - Belle Sherwin, Forgotten Suffragist Leader

Mention 19th c. suffragist leaders and the names Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cody Stanton, and Frances Jennings Casement come immediately to mind.  A fourth member of that group Belle Sherwin is often overlooked and undermentioned in the chapters of NE Ohio and Lake County history.  Today's vignette examines her contributions and place in Women's History.

Belle Sherwin was Cleveland born in 1869, the daughter of Henry A Sherwin, founder of the Sherwin Williams Company.  Her academic pedigree far outpaced the standards of the era.  A college graduate ( Wellesley,1890), she attended Oxford University ('94-95) and was granted additional degrees from Western Reserve University ('30), Denison University ('31), and Oberlin College ('37).  Never married, her inherited wealth allowed her to pursue a career of giving and philanthropic projects.  Her early years were spent as an educator at various institutions of learning.

Returning to Cleveland in 1900, her passions and causes to women's rights were unparalleled.  She was a key member in the Visiting Nurses Association, Cleveland Consumers League, and Cleveland Welfare Federation.  As a result of a visit by Maud Wood Park to Lake County in 1910, her effort's with the League of Women's Voters is most impressive. From 1921-24, she joined other famous local suffragists in the movement.  Sherwin assumed the group's presidency in '24 and held it for more than a decade.  Belle even found time to add the National Urban League to her resume.

As one recalls the period of history leading up to and immediately after the passage of the 19th Amendment, the names Anthony, Stanton, Casement, Kaukonen, and Sherwin must be synonymous in the history of our county.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mentor at 50 -- Three Lectures Highlight April Calendar

Do you remember the John G. Oliver House?  How about the Mentor Drive Inn or Old Deluxe Motel?  Did you visit the Mentor Post Office on Hart Street?  Did you shop at Bargin Fair or drive past Caterpillar / Mentor Towmotor on Tyler Blvd?  Were you a MHS graduate from 1922-1965 at the old school?  The City of Mentor at 50 may be the celebration, but Mentor before 1963 is the real story here.  Six Thursday evening programs highlight the 2013 calendar year and three will be held in April.  Each lecture recalls a significant part of Mentor's past.  Let's look at this month's offerings.  All are free.  All are held at Wilwood Cultural Center at 7pm. All require reservations as seating is limited.

A Grower's Paradise - April 4    
Merkel, Wyatt, Castello, Klyn, Bosley, Havel, Storrs and many other names permeate the nursery history of Mentor and Lake County.  Mentor was a local growers paradise and in time Mentor became the nursery capital of the world.  Roses to Retail was the title of a recently released book tracing Mentor's early years.  Bill Wyatt and Jim Schroeder will lead a panel revealing many gems and little known facts about our nursery heritage.

1963 - The Year Mentor Became a City - April 11
Join Frank Krupa, Jim Collins, Jim Hackenberg and others for an informal look back at Mentor's transformation.  A 1963 flashback sets the stage for an evening of nostalgia.

Mentor When We Grew Up - April 25
Did you ice skate on Newell's Pond?  Did you swim at Mentor Recreation Park as a youth?  Joanie Heubner, Don Bittner, Pam Pachinger and Roland Scott will join previous lecture participants in reliving your past.  A Mentor Memory Trivia Contest will challenge your recollections and serve as a time capsule for future generations.

For more info or to register - call 440-974-5735