Monday, June 30, 2014

Remarkable Lake County -- Mentor-opoly

Ohio's smallest county is home to many important historic events and personalities.  With the recent passing of local Mentor icon Jerome Osborne-age 92, it occurred to me to reflect on the changing history in Mentor he witnessed in his lifetime.  Remember the Mentor we know today just celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 2013.  See how many Mentor facts you know throughout the years past.

1.  In 1898 this former first lady founded the Mentor Miscellany Club - the first women's literary club.  Name her...

2.  A museum since 2007, this public service building located on Jackson Street began its history in 1942, saw improvements in the 70's and 80's before closing in 1990.  Do you remember this site?

3.  Acquired in 1997-98, this property now encompasses 450 acres of water and preserve access for the community.  Name the site...

4.  'Gramma G' served as mayor in 1952 and spearheaded much of Mentor's current cityscape and industrial footprint.  Name our only women mayor and Mentor Recreation Park founder.

5.  From 1951-57 it was known as Painesville Beach State Park.  In 1967 it reopened as this- name the state property...

6.  Two years before Mentor attained city status, this retail development opened in 1961- the first of its kind nationally.  Do you remember?

7.  Originally known as the Dickey Farm, its front porch was a platform during the first ever Presidential Campaign of its kind.  Queen Victoria sent a wreath on the occasion of his state funeral that still remains in the memorial vault on its premises.  Name the historic home...

8.  Located on Station Street and still visible today, this building has been known as Columbia Match, Lake Shore Chemical, Mentor Knitting and this...

9.  In 1973 the Cleveland Museum of Natural History transferred 673 acres of birding trails to Mentor.  Name this property...

10.  Originally located in Painesville, it came to Mentor in 1912 and still is the epicenter for agricultural programming and events today.  Name the property...

answers-  1.  Lucretia Garfield  2.  Fire House Station #1  3.  Mentor Lagoons & Nature Preserve  
4.  Eleanore Garfield  5.  Mentor Headlands State Park  6.  Great Lakes Mall  7.  James A. Garfield NHS  8.  Hart Nut & Washer  9.  Mentor Marsh  10.  Lake County Fairgrounds

Monday, June 23, 2014

Remarkable Lake County: Community Names - Then and Now

Names evoke historical curiosity.  From times long past to the present nothing can spark a conversation better than naming something.  Influences can be historical figures, significant events, or quite simply a random selection from out of the blue.  Examples abound when it comes to naming communities.  Often even roadways were named after many of our early county pioneers.  Mentor took its name from mythology.  LeRoy assumed its name from the NY settlers who arrived during the Western Reserve era.  Sometimes even entire municipalities or cities assume a surname.  Turhand Kirtland, a Revolutionary War and Connecticut Land Company figure saw his name used for what is now Kirtland, Ohio.  Capt. Abraham Skinner named his town New Market in 1806, a few years before soon to be Painesville trumped his location.  Today we examine the many names that once were part of our hometown communities.  See how many you know.

1.  The Village of Willoughbeach and Willoughby-on-the-Lake were early names of this current Lake County community.  Name it.

2.  In 1832 Thomas Richmond arrived from New York and settled here.  Hoping to make his fortune on the success of the Erie Canal and railroad boom, it was not to be.  Known as Richmond, it soon passed into the annals of history and is now known as...

3.  Its current name is generally believed to come from its postmaster in 1835.  Previous names for this community included Carlton, Charlton, Chagrin(e) and Abbott's Mill.  Do you know the name?

4.  Officially chartered in 1812 and known as Grandon, it changed its name to this in 1836 and made another name change in 1959.  Do you know this community - once the second largest port on the Lake.

5.  According to records dating back to 1844 this community was known as St. John's Township and Plains in 19th c. county history.  Can you name this community?

6.  Oak Openings and Champion, circa 1805 were two early names of this current county legislative center.  The current name comes from a key historical figure from the past.  Name the community!

7.  Chapintown (1802), Centerville (1811), Ellensburg and Madison Township are all early names of this eastern Lake County community.  Do you know it?

8.  In 1796 it was known as Range 10 Township 9.  Home to many of Cleveland's Millionaire's Row families, today it is known as...

9.  In 1802 it was known as Wilson's Corners, by 1805 this area took the name of a Revolutionary War battlesite, a name that still is used today.  Name the township!

answers- 1. willowick   2.  grand river   3.  willoughby   4.  fairport harbor  5.  eastlake   
6.  painesville  7.  madison   8.  wickliffe  9.  concord

Monday, June 2, 2014

Remarkable Lake County -- 2nd Annual Dual Lighthouses Tour this week

Two of our county's best kept secrets are approximately .8 miles apart on the banks of the Grand River.  One historical structure was built in 1825 and shone for 100 years, the other arrived via steamer in 1921, was commissioned in 1925, became a private residence just two years ago and celebrates its 89th birthday this coming weekend.  The brief history of each historical structure follows.

The Grandon Lighthouse on the Grand River  ( Fairport Lighthouse)  1825-1925

The Great Lakes were traversed by the aborigines for a long period prior to the arrival of the Europeans.  Native America tribes dotted the coastlines of Lake Erie for many centuries.  It is indeed somewhat remarkable that Lake Erie was the last of the five to come under the rule of the white man.  Grandon (1812) located midway between Cleveland and Ashtabula was once the gateway to the Western Reseerve.  Grandon's importance to Great Lakes shipping increased in 1803 when the new state of Ohio was formed from land relinquished by Connecticut and Virginia.  The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 doubled its importance as a refueling and commercial hub.  Grandon's lighthouse era was at hand.

Jonathan Goldsmith, noted architect and Hiram Wood were awarded the contract in 1825 for a lighthouse to be located on the east bank of the Grand River.  The original brick tower was 30' high with 3' thick supporting walls at the base.  A two story keeper's dwelling was included.  A 1871 award by Congress totaling $30,000 provided for a replacement build.  That lighthouse, keeper dwelling and third-order fresnel lens remained in service thru 1925. The tower and dwelling were the first to be saved from the wrecking ball in the U.S.  Both were also part of the first maritime museum to be on a lighthouse reservation in the country.  Since 1945 the site has been maintained by volunteers of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society as a marine museum.  The lens, lifesaving car, USLSS / USCG artifacts and much more are on display to the public.  Additionally, Fairport histories of the UGRR, Civil War, Mormon Migration and its place in the 19-20th c. Industrial Era are shared.

Visit -

The Fairport West Breakwater Lighthouse  1925-

The Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light was finished in June 1925.  It is situated at the mouth of the Grand River and was constructed as a replacement to the original Grandon / Fairport Harbor Lighthouse.  In June 1917, Congress appropriated $42,000 for the construction of a new breakwater combination light and fog signal station.  The outbreak of WWI delayed the construction for several years.  During that time the citizens of Fairport rallied to save their lighthouse from the funding monies allocated for its destruction.  On June 21, 1921 the steamer Wotan arrived in Fairport with the prefabricated iron frame, steel studding, floor beams, rafters, roof plating, cornices and such.  Constructed in Buffalo, NY as were two other Lake Erie lighthouses of the era, the 147 mile journey was phase one of the project.  Interior masonry and lantern room finish work took another four years to complete.  On June 9, 1925 the West Breakwater Lighthouse was illuminated for the first time.  The lighthouse station was maintained by the nearby USCG Station Fairport crew until 2012 when it was sold to a private owner.  The 42' dwelling is now a private residence while the third story lantern room remains an active navigational aid and is still under federal / USCG possession.

Visit -

A private showing of both lighthouses is scheduled for June 6, 2014...information may be found on the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum website.  Deadline for sign-up will be 5pm this Wednesday.  You may call the museum at 440-354-4825 on Wednesday from 1-5pm too.