Friday, September 19, 2014

The Vanishing Sheffield Lake Cottages

Sometimes change happens right under your nose – very slowly – and you almost miss it.

For example, back in October 2011 (in this post), I wrote about a pair of adjacent lakefront properties in Sheffield Lake that were both for sale. Located immediately west of the 103rd O.V.I. grounds, both properties had vintage cottages or otherwise very old buildings on them.

Here's an aerial view from 2011 of what I'm talking about. 5475 E. Lake Road is shown in outline.

At the time I wondered if the old structures would survive the sale of the properties. Three years later, I have my answer – apparently not.

While driving to work recently, I noticed that two of the buildings at 5475 E. Lake Road are already gone, and the land is being cleared. The house dated from 1911.

A sign for Colabianchi Builders is posted near the road, signaling that a beautiful new home is in the works.

So these two structures are now history (below).

I wouldn't be surprised if the cottages to the west are the next to go.

There's still plenty of traces of Sheffield Lake's heritage as a cottage community to be found along Lake Road. But they're fading fast and will be gone before we know it – or notice it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Dairy Queen on Route 20

I exchange a lot of emails with the person behind the great Oberlin In The Past Facebook page. As we both feel it's our duty to perpetuate local history online, we have a lot in common. And The Oberlin In The Past Facebook page is a gem, always full of wonderful, rarely seen vintage photos.

A week or two ago we were discussing soft serve ice cream stands in the Oberlin area, including the gone but not forgotten Dari Land on Route 58, as well as the Dairy Twist on Route 20 east of town, which is still in business and very popular.

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
I remarked how the Dairy Twist sign is obviously a retrofitted Dairy Queen sign, and a question arose. Did Oberlin have an actual Dairy Queen – and when?

I had to admit I didn't really know. I remembered my father taking my brothers and I fishing at Oberlin Reservoir in the early 1970s, and getting soft serve ice cream afterwards somewhere out there in that neck of the woods (on Route 20 if I remember correctly). But I have no idea what the name of the place was.

So I had to look it up in the few vintage Oberlin phone books and old Lorain County directories available at the Lorain Public Library.

It turns out that the Oberlin area had not one, but two Dairy Queens.

The first one – as best as I can tell – showed up in the phone book for the first time in the 1957-58 phone book (below). It was on Route 20 West.

The listing promptly disappeared in subsequent editions.

It wasn't until the 1973 edition of the Dickman Criss-Criss Directory that Dairy Queen appeared again, this time on Route 20 East (below).

As you can see, Dairy Queen and many other listings have no address at all, and are arranged alphabetically (for maximum confusion for someone trying to figure it out 40 years later). 
The Dairy Queen on Route 20 West apparently didn't last very long either. It too seemed to disappear in subsequent books.
I did find a listing for something called Polar Freeze Bar on Route 20 West in the 1978 book, but I don't know if it was a dairy stand or a poorly insulated tavern.
Anyway, the Dairy Twist seemed to first appear in the 1981 directory, and an online website that features businesses and their incorporation dates states that it was established in 1984.

At any rate, the company made great use of the former DQ sign, and I'm glad they found the recipe for success in Oberlin.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Joseph Ule's Windmill & Storybook House

For the last two days, I'd been writing about the old house that overlooks the golf course, seen above in an aerial photo courtesy of Bing Maps. (By the way, since I posted that article, I'm thrilled to report that I'm getting a lot of help from some of the area's finest local history buffs in tracking down the history of the house and even – perhaps – the man who built it. I'll have much more to say in a future post.)

Anyway, if you look down in the lower right hand corner of the above photo, you can see the windmill and storybook house that Joseph Ule built on Kolbe Road.

You might remember that I wrote about the windmill before (back here). But what's this about a storybook house?

Well, below is a great article that tells the whole story of Joseph Ule and his creations. The article was sent to me by Rick Kurish and appeared in the Chronicle-Telegram on July 9, 1954.

This photo of the storybook house (below) accompanied the article.

Rick also generously shared his reminisces with me about his growing up in that area.
He wrote:
"I grew up on Kolbe Road, and my parents moved there when it was part of Amherst Township, and they were surrounded by farm fields. A riding stable grazed their horses in a pasture bordering my parents' property. The area is now all built up and a part of the city of Amherst. The pasture behind my parents place is now a woods that is part of Lorain County Beaver Creek Metroparks.
Anyway, I was familiar with the Joe Ule property, passing it several times a week. I believe Joe Ule moved to the area in the early to mid 1930s. 
You can see the township school house that Rick
mentioned in the 1896 map above near the Jaeger property
There was an abandoned brick Township Schoolhouse on the corner of Kolbe Road and Longbrook Road. The bricks from this building were used to build the rather fanciful house now on that corner. The house, is not nearly as old as it looks. Neither is the windmill, which from my almost daily observation was built between about 1954 and 1960. I think the house dates from about 1937.
The Ule property consisted of about 50 acres along Kolbe Road and Beaver Creek. Joe Ule was an amateur gentleman farmer, who preached organic gardening, before it was well known. In fact he planned to grind the grain from his own farm using the windmill. I can remember reading about him speaking before many agricultural groups.
Sometime in the early 1960s, he sold about 40 acres of his property to the city of Lorain. This became Kennedy Park. This still remains an undeveloped park along Beaver Creek, in the area of Jaeger road. Shortly after this he moved out of the area, to Florida, I believe. He died there in a boating accident in 1969 or 1970.
Hope I haven't bored you too much! Regards --- Rick"

Thanks, Rick! It's impossible to be bored when I receive such nice surprises in my email! Thanks for your research help. As always – I appreciate it!

Anyway, here's what the storybook house looks like today, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor website (below).

I did shoot it myself this past weekend, but it was a cloudy day and my photo wasn't so hot (below).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The House Overlooking the Golf Course Part 2

Here's the full-page article I mentioned yesterday (below). Written by Lou Kepler, it ran in the Journal on September 7, 1961 and reveals the unusual history of the house – which is much older than I imagined.

According to the 1961 article, the house was built by Baron von Bonn, an exile from Germany. It supposedly dates back to around 1851.

The article raises a lot of questions, though. If the house really is that old, wouldn't it make much more sense if it was built by the Jaeger family?

1896 Township map showing the house
(just to the left of the "A. C. Jaeger" name)
At the time that A Standard History of Lorain County (1916) was published, the Jaeger family had already been in Lorain County for more than seventy years, making the family's approximate arrival in the area around 1846. Adam Jaeger is identified as the patriarch of the family. According to the book, he was a German school teacher and "a man of unusual education for his time." The book also notes that "after coming to America he located on a farm in Lorain County in 1843 and lived there until his death, being both prosperous and influential."

I wonder if Adam Jaeger himself was "the German baron" who built the house? I suppose that it's possible that the story of the house's heritage could have been mangled, especially if the Jaegers came from Bonn, Germany.

But this is all speculation on my part. I guess I'll have to do some more research (groan).

I did look in the city directories a bit trying to sort all this out. The bad news is that researching that part of Lorain is almost impossible. Aside from finding it on old maps, there are no listings of the road or its inhabitants until around the 1960s in the city directories, since it was outside of city limits until then.

One interesting aspect of the article is that the house is mentioned as being located on Jaeger Road. For many years, Jaeger ran from Leavitt Road all the way to Oak Point Road.

Detail of 1938 Map
The Kubasak home wasn't on Jaeger Road for very long, though. By 1963, that portion of Jaeger Road west of Kolbe Road had its name changed to Longbrook Road. 
Today, the house looks much the same as it did in the 1961 photo. The beautiful fountain seen in the 1961 photo appears to have been a casualty sometime during the ensuing years.
Here's my photo from over the weekend (below).

It's a difficult house to get a drive-by photograph of, and I apologize to the current owners if they were wondering why the same car kept going up and down Longbrook past their house.
The house is still owned by the Kubasak family, and I hope they have enjoyed many happy years in their wonderful, historical home – apparently one of the oldest in Lorain.

Perhaps one of the family members can shed some light on this Baron mystery through a posted comment.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The House Overlooking the Golf Course Part 1

If you're driving along Kolbe Road in Lorain and happen to look west towards the well-manicured golf course of the FoxCreek Golf and Racquet Club, you might notice a large, stately white house in the distance.

Turn west onto Longbrook Road and the house looms into view, dominating the wooded, country vista.

Like me, you might have assumed that the house is merely a 1960s or 70s colonial, built by a professional man – perhaps a doctor or lawyer – who wished to be close to the golf course. 
A view of the house from the vantage point of where Beaver Creek flows under Longbrook Road
But the house's stylized facade is quite deceiving, and belies the history to be found within its walls.

Please stop back here for tomorrow's post, where you can read a 1961 Lorain Journal article that reveals some of the surprising history of the house.

Aerial view of house courtesy of Bing Maps

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's That Guy Again

I found yet another appearance of my favorite 1950s clip-art guy (that's currently featured in Ed Tomko Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram ads). This ad is from the 1970s and proves that the little guy had some staying power over the decades.

The ad – for Roberts Specialty Shoppe in Sandusky – ran in the Journal on September 19, 1975. It's a take-off on the Let's Make A Deal game show, even using the same type font. The clip-art man has been slightly modernized with a semi-realistic body.

This particular digital version of him is still available for use through Getty Images®, although a shamrock has curiously been grafted onto his shirt, and he's been streamlined a bit. He's also on a retro-poster offered through

I don't know much about Roberts Specialty Shoppe, since it was located in Sandusky, except that it is closed. (Here's a link to the obituary of Timothy J. Roberts, who worked at the family-run business for more than 30 years.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Jackie Mayer's Reign as Miss America Ends – September 1963

Courtesy Sandusky Register
Everyone in Northern Ohio has heard of Jackie Mayer (at left), the Sandusky native who grew up to become Miss America 1963. It's hard not to think of her every time you travel on the "Jackie Mayer Miss America Highway" (Route 2) in Erie County.

Her post-pageant life and career is well-known as well. In 1970, she suffered a stroke at the age of 28, and spent the next seven years in rehabilitation, relearning how to walk and do simple tasks. After her recovery, she later became a successful spokesperson and is still a much sought-after motivational and inspirational speaker.

Here is the link to her website, as well as the link to her page on the official Miss America website.

The big 50th Anniversary of her selection as Miss America took place back in November 2012. At the time, the Sandusky Register covered it with a great interview (which you can watch online here).

In the meantime, below is an article that ran in the Journal on September 6, 1963 – 51 years ago this month – as Jackie's reign as Miss America was winding down. It's a nice look at what she was thinking after spending an exciting and fulfilling year as Miss America.
Jackie Sad To See Reign End
ATLANTIC CITY, N. J. (AP) "It's quite sad to see it come to an end."
Thus spoke Jacqueline Jeanne (Jackie) Mayer, the reigning Miss America who will relinquish her title about midnight Saturday to one of 52 girls who has been vying in beauty and talent competition for the past two days.
“It’s been a marvelous experience,” Jackie said as she recalled the past year which saw her travel over 200,000 air miles throughout the United States and England. "I just hope that girl I crown will have as wonderful a time as I had."
Courtesy Ohio History Connection
The 21-year-old brown-haired beauty from Sandusky, Ohio who plans to return to her studies at Northwestern University, spoke as she watched the contestants of this year's contest rehearsing their roles Thursday.
"It's very nostalgic to be here she said. "I'm very envious of them. I would like to go through the whole thing again.
"It's been a busy year. Sometimes we would make five to seven personal appearances a week but I've learned a great deal.
"Coming in contact with the outside world and the people in its has given me an education I couldn't get in a year's time at school,” Jackie said. "I've also made so many wonderful friends. It will be very sad not to see them again."
The reigning beauty will return to Northwestern as a sophomore and will major in radio and television. She had completed one year at the school before being crowned.
"I don't think I will have much trouble getting back into the swing of things at college,” Jackie said. "Maybe the first month will be awkward. Perhaps some of the students will stare at me, but they will learn to accept me.
"I know I want an education and will study very hard for it,” she said. "A woman must have an education these days."


By the way, I was a little confused during my research for this post when I read that Route 2 in Erie County was only officially named the "Jackie Mayer Miss America Highway" in August 2002. I remembered "Jackie Mayer" signs many years before that – going back to the 1960s.

A little online research revealed that the shorter name "Jackie Mayer Highway" did indeed precede the current highway designation, dating back to the early 1960s. Jackie Mayer herself cut the ribbon in a ceremony opening the new Route 2 bypass from Huron through Rt. 250 on November 2, 1962.

 Miss America 1963 Jackie Mayer cuts the ribbon
opening the "Jackie Mayer Highway." The man 

whose face is adjacent to Jackie's in the photo is
Ohio Governor Michael DiSalle.