Thursday, February 3, 2011

Diner Update

I started off this new year (here) by blogging about the diner (at left) that used to be in front of the old Lorain City Hall. It had spent most of its years (from the late 1930's until the early 1950's) known as Helen's Diner before becoming the Dew Drop Inn in the 1960's.

All I really knew beyond that was that the first owner of the diner had been a gentleman named William Pupenbroke, and that the diner had been known by a few other names (the Welcome Inn before it was Helen's Diner, and the C & R Diner after that.)

Well, thanks to the internet, I have discovered more information about this diner.

While Googling Mr. Pupenbroke's name, I was directed to a website called It is the source for all things related to diners (not just those in New York) and includes state-by-state listings of past and present diners, histories of diner manufacturers, blogs, updates, links to other related sites and much, much more.

The diner website is the work of Michael Engle, who is a well-known diner authority and author.

Anyway, William Pupenbroke's name and his diner showed up in an online database on the website. It turns out that the diner is No. 93, manufactured by the Ward & Dickinson Dining Car Company. According to Mr. Engle's website, the Ward & Dickinson dining cars were "semi-steel vehicles (not a building)". Rather than quote or paraphrase the W&D company history, I'd rather just direct you to this link if you're interested in more information.

The image at left (courtesy of the NY Diner website) shows what a Ward & Dickinson dining car looked like. Note the similarity between this car and Helen's Diner.

The website also revealed that before the diner came to Lorain, it was in Toledo from 1926 to 1927. It's unclear how it ended up in Lorain, but when William Pupenbroke owned it, it was called Bill's Diner & Taxi Service.

Ad from 1931 Lorain City Directory
Mr. Engle was able to tell me a little about William Pupenbroke. According to Mr. Engle, Pupenbroke was a Dunkirk, New York policeman. "He left the force to run a diner in Dunkirk for a year, and somehow found himself in Lorain," explained Engle.
It could only happen in Lorain!
Special thanks to Michael Engle for sharing his research.


Drew Penfield said...

The internet can be such a wonderful tool for researching local history (especially for somebody like me trying to do it from 1500 miles away). I've had several instances when a link to something leads to another link which leads to a surprising discovery. You expect to find information on major landmarks, but finding info on something as small and seemingly insignificant as a diner is just great. (Of course we know that this isn't insignificant, this is the real history, the everyday stuff that ordinary people lived with, which is all to often forgotten.)

Rebecca Deaton said...

My Mother in Law cooked there when it was the C&R. Chuck and Ruth Searles owned it.