Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lorain Overlook Apartments Then & Now

Here's an undated photo of my old apartment house: the Lorain Overlook Apartments at 2715 E. Erie. (Thanks to the Black River Historical Society for allowing me to copy this photo.)

The vintage photo is hard to date. There's no real landscaping, so the barren view makes me think that the photo dates back to the apartment's early days. There are also structures visible to the east of the building (I've been told there were garages at some point) – instead of the present parking lot – so that also makes me think the photo is earlier rather than later in the building's history.

The Lorain Overlook Apartments first showed up in the city directory in 1926 at 2709 E. Erie. (The previous person who had that address was Gurnie Randall; that makes sense, since the Overlook Apartments were supposed to have been built on or near the site of the old Randall's Grove picnic grounds. (Click here and scroll down a bit to read more about the history of Randall's Grove as it relates to the interurbans and local streetcars on the Lake Shore Rail Maps website.)

I've been told, and the city directories seemed to confirm it, that at one point the Overlook was the only real apartment house in town.

Here are some recent views from last weekend. (I couldn't exactly match the angle without standing on the front porch of the house directly across from it – sorry about that.) There are some minor differences in the fascia above the entrance, but the building is still in great shape.

Like I said, I used to live in these apartments back in the mid-1980's. I thought my apartment was pretty nice for a one-bedroom. And cheap too – I think I was paying $185 a month.

1985 City Directory Listing
My living room at the Overlook
My apartment had rounded archways between rooms, beautiful wood floors and even an ironing board that swung down from inside a door in the wall (right out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon.) I loved hearing the lake at night, and seeing it up close when I went to and from my car. I could see the lake from my windows too.

The faucets in the bathroom sink were interesting. You had two faucets; one for hot and one for cold. You would have to mix it up yourself to get lukewarm so you could shave.

My biggest complaint? Being so close to the lake, my apartment occasionally had huge centipedes. They might show up anywhere: on the floor, on the walls, in the sink, on my bath towels, etc. There were also some pretty exotic-looking spiders and beetles in the hallways. But that's all part of living in an old building I guess.

Back then, the Overlook was also on the bus route out of Downtown Lorain (since it's right on US 6) – so for a while I could step right out my front door and catch the bus to Cleveland. But it was on a limited schedule, and it was cheaper to drive to Aqua Marine Resort in Avon Lake, leave my car there and ride the RTA.


Anonymous said...

Very cool. I also lived in the Overlook Apt. in the early 2000's. I loved the location and the morning commute to Downtown Cleveland along Lake Rd. I've always thought this was one of the best kept building in Lorain. My apt was perfect for me at the time... cheap with free heat! Needless to say, I was able to wear shorts and t-shirts all winter long while in the apt! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I lived here twice the first mid 70's for a 1 BR 4th floor (in photo top flr front West side)
The second in an efficiency 4th flr again on the back in the 80's with great lake views and the summer zing, zing, of speed boats. There were like carports along the back of parking lot, once there was a house in between the bldg and the lot. The first time I lived here they still had the milk doors for each apt. I scared the heck out of neightbor, when I opened his milk box reached past the cereal and pushed
open his kitchen cabinet and spoke to him!! I loved the murals. I wonder if I could live on a 4th flr walk up today, my step dad gave me an old Journal bag that I would load up for the journey. My Mothers friend in the 60's was manager, she had a Doberman named "Leiba" who was sweet but cold be intimidating and parrot that led to many humorous stories with tenants. Sorry so long, thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

I lived here in the mid 1980. First a efficiency with a fold out bed then moved up to a 1 bedroom on the street side. I had the french door windows, which they have changed to the 3 tier but loved this place. Such charm and character. Glad to see they are keeping it up.

oom said...

There was covered parking to the East of the apartments and then East of that was a house which was rented out by the owners of the apartments. (late 60's, early 70's) My Aunt and Uncle lived in that house for several years. It was all torn down to make the present parking lot.

Anonymous said...

I lived in this building from 1979-1981, first in an ocean view efficiency and then in one of the corner, ocean view one bedroom units. There were quaint, quality features in these units that I adored - such as the original apartment size gas stoves, built-in cabinets with leaded glass doors in the tiny dining areas, a full sized Murphy bed that folded up into the closet area, built-in drawers and cabinets in the closets, clawfoot bathtubs, original hardwood flooring and as someone else mentioned, old ice boxes that had a little cabinet door that opened to the hallway for the iceman to leave the daily block of ice. I do remember struggling with the old windows, but other than that, I loved all of those original features. In the late 70's, all of this was novel and charming. The only modern feature was the refrigerator.

At that time, the downstairs lounge area was original to the 20's decor and design, with an old fireplace, a large chandelier and marble floors.

In the hallways there were small cabinet doors that opened up to shoots that went directly into the incinerator where we were instructed to drop our trash, which was burned in the incinerator used for heating the water for the old radiator system that heated all of the apartments. This heating system worked fantastically, one radiator unit heated the entire apartment. Even in the severest of temperatures, I often had to turn it down.

Based on a YouTube video I've seen, all of these features have been removed and the apartments have been modernized. I'm glad I got to experience the original design, while it lasted.

I will add, that there were some difficulties with the landlords at that time, an older couple who got into everybody's business and let themselves into my apartment when I wasn't home. They were difficult to 'overlook'. Vicki H

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the great post, Vicki--and everyone who commented as well! I appreciate it! I enjoyed my time in the Overlook and I can see it was and still is a special place for many!

Linda Jean Limes Ellis said...

My father was a lather and he always talked about his work as a lather at the Overlook Apartments as one of the structures he worked on in the 1920s in Lorain. He also worked on the Palace Theatre and some Catholic churches in Lorain. So, I am so thrilled that the Overlook apartments are still there.

Anonymous said...

Hey Vicki H. Was that Lew and Jenny??? Unbelievable if it was. My friend and I lived there and when we had a gentleman caller. They stopped us in the hall to inform us that there would be no menage a trois (sp) at the Overlook. We had to ask around to find out what that was??? lol We still laugh about it.

Gilmarie Nogueras said...

You all make the Lorain Overlook Apartments sound really great! Except for the bugs... Do you think it's still that bad?
G Alvarez

Barb Retzloff said...

Hi, I really enjoyed reading this! I lived at the Lorain Overlook from 1993 Until last year. I lived in apts 407, 408, 403, and 412 over a period of 21 years. I always had a lake view but because of the trees on the west side of the building my view was limited in 403. My first apt was 407. It was an efficiency with a hardwood floor and a huge window overlooking the lake. I loved it there.. my rent was 285.00 a month when I first moved in! My last apt was 412 and I was there for 9 years. I had a great lake view from the side and also a neat street view! I finally had to leave due to problems with my legs- I could no longer do the stairs. Even a lower apartment would not work unfortunately.
I do miss the lake view but not those stairs! I enjoyed my years there and met many wonderful people including my best friend and soul mate, who has since passed away. I still keep in contact with a few people that I knew when I lived there.
Thank you for the memories. If you ever find any photos of the old ball room, I would love to see them! It was renovated into apartments :( in the late 90's. I wish they would have kept it and used it as a community room.