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.