Monday, December 29, 2014

Lake County in Review - Year 174 and counting...

Since late 2009 I have had the opportunity to work at, volunteer at or just simply visit many of our county’s iconic historical places.  Many are well known to local county residents.  Unfortunately many have been razed for what is termed ‘progress.’  Some garner specific visits from out-of-county travelers.  Others are stumbled upon randomly or often missed entirely as today’s streetscapes hide the past edifices from public eye.  Below are but ten of my favorites.  The list is totally incomplete and in no apparent order.  All though are worthy of a visit sometime as you travel the roads of Lake County in 2015.

#1.  The Aviation Museum in Leroy is home to one of the largest private collections in our country.  Many of our county’s lost airfields have been reported upon but the Pheasant Run Airport and Aviation Museum offers views of over 22 aircraft, some the only ones in existence.  The efforts of Gretchen Reed have resulted in a life estate with Lake Erie College (2010).
#2  Lantern Court in Kirtland.  Situated on the corner of the Holden Arboretum property, it was the residence of Warren H. and Maud Corning.  They purchased the land for their country estate in 1929 and built their residence circa 1930’s.  Acquired by the Holden Arboretum in 2007, the estate welcomes public visitation and is not to be missed.
#3.  Chapin Reservation/Gildersleeve Mountain/ Pine Lodge Ski Center is under the auspices of Lake Metroparks.  The scenic overlook located in Kirtland’s Chapin Forest      (Chillicothe Road entrance) offers a panoramic view of downtown Cleveland, Lake Erie and sites east and west.  Truly a four seasons visit is warranted.
#4.  Historic Marker #24-43 is located in Wickliffe.  Currently the site of Wickliffe City Hall, it was the former estate of Harry Coulby.  Coulby was the 19-20th century Great Lakes shipping magnate and his office now serves as the Mayor’s Office.  A visit to the estate will offer a glimpse into Cleveland’s Gilded Age and shipping history.
#5.  Since 1988, The Herb Society of America has been housed in the county’s oldest stone structure.  Located at 9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road in Kirtland the former Vineyard House of Henry Earl dates back to 1841. Visitors are always welcomed.
#6.  Each year one of the country’s largest free Nativity Displays is open to the public at Historic Kirtland.  This free holiday offering is but one highlight found at the site of historic marker #21-43.
#7.  The Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum is a unique experience open to the public from May-September.  However the outdoor exhibits – an 1843 US Navy Mast, an 1876 Lifesaving Car, a 1904 Oil House, Mormon Migration dedication rock and other artifacts can be viewed any day of the year.  Display boards tell the history of the UGRR, Mormon Migration and other maritime stories.
#8.  The Ohio Cottage in Madison Township has a long and storied history dating back to the early 1900’s.  Situated just off Rt. 84 it is a visit worth the trip.
#9.  The Mentor Fire Museum, Old Station #1 is located on the corner of Jackson Street and Mentor Avenue.  Manned by retired firefighters the site serves as a museum and educational classroom tracing the history of fire fighting equipment and service history in our county.
#10.  Currently situated on the campus of Lake Erie College in Painesville, the Mathews House ( historic marker #4-43) stands out among all of the county’s historic architectural homesteads. Adjacent to the home is College Hall dating back to 1857.  Two unique pieces of history on one campus setting make this a most see stop.
Just missing the cut are the local histories of The Mentor Knitting Works/Columbia Match site on Station Street in Mentor, Painesville Railroad Depot and the unique history of  US Rt.20.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Hopeful Waiting...Season's Best to All!

May the 2014 Holiday Season bring you all that you desire.  May 2015 be your best year ever...

Buon Natale                                              Frohe Weihnachten

                        Merry Christmas!

                                                     Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!

Happy Hanukkah                    Joyeux Noel                Feliz Navidad



Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Season Potpourri

Christmas is a holiday celebrated all around the world.  Whether your season festivities are spiritual or secular - involving a gift-giving character the season is overflowing with possibilities for every kind of believer.  Let's take a look at some of the many interesting ways Christmas is celebrated in Lake County and all around the world.  Included will be some holiday trivia too!
  • Upside down Christmas tree - said to date back to St. Boniface in the 8th century, it remains popular throughout Eastern Europe.  Legend has it that Boniface confronted non-Christians and chopped down their giant oak tree in an angry moment.  A tiny evergreen grew in its place and the triangular shape was used to explain the Holy Trinity.  the tree was hung upside down and the Trinity Tree had its origins.
  • Nativity Scenes (Vatican and Lake County) - Depictions of the nativity figures owe their origins to St. Francis of Assisi.  The first creche appeared in 1223.  In less than a century the custom was entrenched throughout Italy and the world.  Historic Kirtland has a nativity display annually that is considered a top 100 destination in the United States.  Free and open to the public daily into January, one should make every effort to view the more than 400 creches on display, some from countries far away.
  • Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - Rudloph is 50 this year.  Taken from a 1939 poem, an animated television short about Rudolph aired in 1964 featuring the voice and singing talents of Burl Ives.
  • Frosty the Snowman - A 1950 song was used for a 1954 animated short about this most famous snowman.  In 1969 the television show still shown today remains.  Jimmy Durante was the voice talent used in the 1969 classic.
  • Mistletoe - The bush-like plant found on trees dates back to the Celtic people to about five centuries before Christ.  It is said the Druids considered mistletoe a sacred plant and hung it above their doorways for protection.  Enemies in battle would often declare a one day truce if they met near the plant.
  • George Harrison of Beatles fame is the only member of the Fab Four to never write or record a Christmas Song.
  • Holly & The Yule Log - The log is associated with winter solstice / December 21st.  Its origin remains in doubt although believed to be Germanic in nature.  Burned to bring good luck, holly was part of the ritual and placed under the log.  The sprig of holly symbolized buring up the troubles of the past year as well keeping safe their homesteads.
  • The Grinch -  Dr. Suess wrote his classic tale of the Grinch in 1957.  The animated version first appeared in 1966 and is third in longevity when one recalls Holiday TV specials.
  • It's a Wonderful Life - The 1946 holiday classic includes what today would be called a 'blooper' or DVD-extra.  An inebriated Uncle Billy has trouble walking in a scene.  A crash is heard and Uncle Billy says, "I'm alright."  The actual crash was that of a crew member dropping something during filming.  The gaffe is part of holiday history.
  • It's a Wonderful Life - "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings..." is well known.  If you listen carefully you will hear 42 bells ringing in this seasonal movie classic.
  • Madagascar - Santa is known as Dadabe Noely.  Only small gifts are exchanged.
  • Wales - Carolers highlight the season and Christmas Day.  They sing at dawn and are invited in for snacks.  Carol writing contests are annual events.
  • Russia - Children carry a star and go house to house singing carols and receiving sweets.  A porridge, kutya is popular and served with honey or poppy seeds to ensure happiness and peace for the coming year.
  • Philippines -  Simbang Gabi are the nine days before Christmas.  A practice dating back to Spanish rule of the islands, attending mass is the main focus of the season.
  • Charlie Brown -  Charles Schulz's characters were widely popular since the 1950's.  The comic characters got their first television exposure in 1965 with A Christmas Special.  Arguably the best known holiday special it is a December viewing tradition.
  • Country Lights at Farmpark began its Toyshop in 1990.  Originally meant to just supplement an outdoor wagon ride and visit with Santa, 2014 will feature more than 70 varieties of wooden toys and possibly surpass 15,000 toys built in December 2014.
  • Check out Historic Lake County Alliance Member activities this month and throughout the upcoming year.  Whether it is a visit with the Grinch in Fairport Harbor, holiday fireworks in Eastlake, a traditional concert performance in Painesville or a holiday stroll in downtown Willoughby that includes a visit with Santa as part of their Welcome Center,  there are always holiday traditions Yule Enjoy!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Serving Up Good Will in Fairport Harbor ---The 'Grinch' visits December 6th

Dr. Suess’s holiday classic first appeared in 1957 in an issue of Redbook and shortly thereafter in book form.  In the story a bitter and hateful Grinch is irritated at the thought of the nearby village having a happy time celebrating Christmas.  As the story unfolds Dr. Suess poses two essential questions.  “What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store?”  “What if Christmas, perhaps means a little bit more?”  Winter is in the air.  Holiday programs have started.  Lists are being made.  The countdown to December 25th is officially underway.  In the Village of Fairport Harbor on December 6th, one may experience the answers to Dr. Suess’s classic questions.

Serving up good will is what ‘Harbor Holidays’ are all about.  It is a Rockwellian slice of Americana worthy of partaking in.  Harbor Holidays began in 1994.  In 2000 the Grinch made his first visit to Lake County’s best kept secret.  The efforts of the Fairport Harbor Merchants Association married the Grinch visit to Harbor Holidays and a Lighthouse Tower Reading of the classic tale.  Attendance averaged 75 annually.  In 2009 the current Grinch partnered up with the Fairport Harbor Historical Society  and the evening event with the Grinch, Santa Claus, and a local church social has resulted in 550 and 285 visitors attending the evening program in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  Free and family friendly have always been the operant words.  2014 will see the event grow some more as the Fairport Harbor Heritage Foundation has stepped up to enhance visitor experiences the entire day.  Lolley the Trolley, music performances at the gazebo and DFH window lighting decoration contests will supplement the Toys for Tots collection and other community holiday programming.

Harbor Holidays -  Local businesses, churches and the school will be open from 10am-4pm for visitor shopping experiences.  Food, ethnic specialties, stocking stuffers and more will be available.  You may even catch a glimpse of the Grinch stealing toys throughout the day.

Fairport Harbor Library -  The Grinch will be on hand with Max the dog from noon -1:30pm.  He will autograph copies of the classic book, mug for pictures and perhaps even share an irritable word or two with the locals.

Grinch / Lighthouse Program -  The Grinch and his cohorts will be at the Fairport Harbor Village Lighthouse at 6pm for a classic retelling of his story from atop the tower.  Bring your lawn chairs or blankets and sit below to listen to the story. At approximately 6:30pm the Grinch will lead all true believers to the park down the street to meet Santa Claus as well as pose for candid pictures.  The Congregational Church across the street from the park will offer hot chocolate and cookies to conclude the evening.  The event ends around 8pm.

Toys for Tots -  The FH Police Department and local VFW Post will once again accept donations for those less fortunate in 2014.  Bring a new wrapped or unwrapped toy to the event and make a holiday memory.

The Grinch Gang promises to be in rare form as they venture once again from Mount Krumpit.  Come and enjoy a day / evening put on by dozens of volunteers.  As stated earlier, serving up good will has been a Fairport Harbor staple since 1994.