Monday, July 9, 2012

George Wickens Wrap-up

Although I concluded my series on George Wickens last month, I now realize I have a few more things mention – thanks to some great comments that were posted at the time, as well as some other loose ends that I had left hanging.

George Wickens' Home
One anonymous (but well-informed) commenter believed that the Walter A. Frey Funeral Home at 700 West Erie Avenue was the former home of George Wickens. The commenter was quite correct and I thank him (or her) for pointing it out.

At the time of Wickens' death, he was living at 142 West Erie, which was right next door to his undertaking business located in the Parkside Chapel at 140 West Erie. As Drew Penfield pointed out in his comment, Lorain's streets and house numbering system all changed in the early 1900s – with the result that the Parkside Chapel ended up with the address of 600 West Erie. To the east was City Hall at 500 West Erie, and right next door to the west was 700 West Erie, current home of Walter A. Frey Funeral Home.

An article in the Lorain Journal from August 15, 1968 about George Wickens' contribution towards the acquiring of the Civil War soldiers statue and fountain mentions that it was located "in the park across from his home" and that he "lived in the home which is presently the Walter A. Frey Funeral Home next to City Hall."

I haven't confirmed it with any research, but it also appears (thanks to a recent commenter's observation) that George Wickens' daughter Elizabeth lived in the house for a number of years until the early 1920s.

Wickens Place
I was unsuccessful in my attempt to locate some sort of newspaper article about the dedication of this short road in honor of George Wickens. I scoured the newspapers on microfilm for almost a year immediately following his death in March 1908, hoping to see some front-page mention of the naming of the street in his honor but it was not to be – for now, anyway.

I can say with certainty that in May 1908, Lorain introduced its new street renaming plan, which included specific instructions for how it would be implemented. One part of the plan called for "Short and blind streets running north and south to be named Places."

Although the library is missing quite a few city directories between 1900 and 1920, the 1912 edition did indeed  include Wickens Place. Thus that street has been named for George Wickens for at least one hundred years, and it was wise not to rename it last year.


Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook & Batista Co.
The law firm's Avon offices
Although the Wickens funeral and furniture businesses in Lorain are long gone, today the Wickens name lives on locally via the law firm of Wickens, Herzer, Panza, Cook & Batista Co. with its offices in Avon and Sandusky.

As the law firm's website points out, its roots are traced to the law firm founded in 1932 by William G. Wickens, grandson of George Wickens. William G. Wickens wrote an excellent history of Lorain – Early Days of Lorain – in 1927 that was published in the Lorain Journal in 1981. Its sequel – Birth of a City – appeared in the newspaper in 1985. Both articles are fantastic historical resources and are conveniently available online (for free!) in PDF format on the law firm's website here.


Anonymous said...

My Mother grew up at 4th and Wickens, (bank prkg lot)she would tell me about "bellyslamming" their sleds down Wickens.

Wireless.Phil said...

There was a hobby shop behind the old police station when the station was just a white house, then came Walter A. Frey Funeral Home.

Wireless.Phil said...

Also, I kind of remember or think there was an ice cream store on Reid just south of the railroad track on the west side of the street, the building is still there.

In an old phone book when they had city maps, there was a section of Lorain somewhere south of the old LHS that was named VINCENT, I don't know if it was a town section name or what.It was in the Lorain phone book sometime between the late 50s to late 60s or very early 70s, but I doubt the 70s.