Monday, February 22, 2016

Saving Mentor's History -- Part III -- 'Lost to Time'

Today's final installment examines one of the first towns settled in the lands once part of Connecticut's Western Reserve.  In the two hundred plus years, this early wilderness outpost steadily morphed into an area of farmers and artisans.  Over time Cleveland's Gilded Age saw wealthy businessmen move into the county as gentlemen farmers.  These large estates gave way in the late 20th century to a local burgeoning economy based on industry and lake commerce.  Just fifty years ago Mentor, Ohio united to become the largest and diverse community of today.  Thomas G. Matowitz Jr. culled all the local history available to preserve that history.  Some of the history still exists to the discerning eye such as the 1868 Mentor Knitting Mills and the storefront corner of Mentor Avenue and Maple. Today we look at some of the names, places, or structures from Mentor's past history now 'lost to time.'

Did You Know About / Do You Remember These ?
  •  Fragments of a pioneer cemetery remain on private property on King Memorial Road at Little Mountain
  • President Garfield's sons Abram and James R. contributed to Mentor lore.  Abram, an architect designed Wildwood and other buildings.  James R., an attorney was the last surviving member of Theodore Roosevelt's cabinet at the time of his death in 1950.
  • Albert Clapp, of Little Mountain Road was the only Mentor serviceman from Mentor to receive a Medal of Honor.  His Civil War medal and the battle flag that earned this honor still exist today.
  • The L.S. & M.S. R.R. Depot in Mentor had a deadly trainwreck on June 21, 1905.  The derailment was thought to be the result of sabotage.  21 died and 20 others were injured.
  • The Willoment bar and restaurant was located on the south side of Mentor Avenue near the present day GLM.
  • Winfield's Restaurant (Weavers) stood opposite Heinen's on Mentor Avenue.  Several tourist cabins still exist today.
  • The Allchin Home and stop 51 on the interurban located just west of the GLM on Mentor was razed in 1978.  Today a dry-cleaner store stands there.
  • Hollycroft House - designed by Abram Garfield in 1905, it was damaged by fire in the 1950s.  Today its identity survives only in the name of the street Holycroft Lane.
  • The Van Cleve summer estate was torn down in the 1970s.
  • The Overnight Farm on Route 20 was destroyed.  Today Aldi's occupies the former site.
  • Primrose Hill was the state constructed in the 1890s for Horace Andrews.  His estate was destroyed in the 1970s.
Images of America Mentor by Thomas G. Matowitz Jr. is just one of a larger Images of America series by Arcadia Press.  Similar books exist for other Lake County communities such as Fairport Harbor, Willoughby and Madison.  Examine the local history made available to all.  These distinctive stories and others await anyone interested in community history and the archival fabric of our neighborhoods and city.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Saving Mentor's History Part II

In recent years- news stories, on-line postings, and social media of all types seem to reflect a dumbing-down of the American mind to the point where the knowledge of history, especially local history is no longer deemed necessary.  Community residents may live there for less than a decade, thus honoring or remembering places, persons or things from the past holds no connection.

The first hand memories of many of the old time residents that were passed down generationly are rapidly being lost as the current generations, for the most part, do not have any interest in those memories.  Even Mentor's 50th Anniversary Lecture Series in 2013 and a file cabinet full of historical Mentor documents in former Kathie Pohl's Mentor Economic Development Office garner minimal attention.  This makes Thomas G. Matowitz Jr.'s newest book about Mentor all the more important.  Like the previous six books (see below) that came before his, this new publication celebrates the history of neighborhoods, buildings and names that dotted Mentor, Ohio.

Looking throughout the county, one finds dedicated historical societies of varying sizes in Fairport Harbor, Wickliffe, Perry, Willoughby, Willoughby Hills and Madison.  Some are housed in historical buildings such as a lighthouse, school building  or prominent estate.  Another one or two have had their municipalities commit a building or room to their efforts. This is true in Willoughby, Willoughby Hills and Eastlake.  Mentor, the county's largest community has yet to have a dedicated collections building.  For a brief time Mentor's history fell under the umbrella of the Lake County History Center when it called President Garfield's House its home.  Mentor's explosive growth in the 70's & 80's saw much of its early historical prizes razed for progress.  Their remnants were lost to time.  After 1983 the history of Mentor has traveled with the LCHS to Shadyside and its current location in Painesville.  Part III will look at some of Mentor's past - lost to time.

Past Publications about Mentor, Ohio History -  not all still in publication
  • History of Mentor Headlands and Vicinity, 1957
  • This is Lake County, 1964
  • Mentor-A Retrospective, 1988
  • Mentor: The First 200 Years, 1997
  • Roses to Retail, 2011
  • This is Lake County -updated by LCHS, 2015