Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Last of the Oberlin Avenue Farmhouses?

I passed this old farmhouse while heading south on Oberlin Avenue on Saturday and did a double take. I'd never noticed it before – perhaps because of the mammoth evergreen that literally overshadows it.

I guess I was surprised to see it because it seems that all there is along Oberlin Avenue in that area are various medical clinics.

There's a real estate sign on the property, propped against the tree, but it doesn't appear that the house and property are still for sale, as I was unable to find a current listing.

A quick internet search reveals that this house, at 4860 Oberlin Avenue, was built in 1910. I'm guessing it's one of the oldest on that stretch of Oberlin Avenue between Tower Boulevard and Cooper Foster Park Road.

The house is on a huge lot that in all probability was a farm. It's similar in size to the farmhouses down at the other end of Oberlin Avenue (which I wrote about in this series). Somehow, this house and lot have managed to survive, and not get absorbed into a crowded neighborhood.

Here's a current aerial photo (below). That's the former Riviera Swim Club on the right.

I couldn't find the house in the early city directories at the library, since it was outside of the Lorain city limits. However, the 1954 edition of the Lorain County Farm & Business Directory reveals that Anna Retay and a daughter lived there at that time. Later city directory entries reveal that she was the widow of Antone Retay.
Mrs. Retay was an office worker at O'Neil's, and was retired by the early 1970s, and remained at that address until she passed away in 1987, according to ancestry.com.

That pretty much explains how and why the house managed to survive so long and appears to have changed so little through the years.

Beginning with the 1988 directory, a new resident for that address was listed; within two years there was yet another name.

I'm not sure why I found all this interesting; I guess it's because every house tells a story. If you drive that section of Oberlin Avenue, I think you'll agree that this old farmhouse is one of the last of its kind, a link to a bygone era before Lorain was developed.

It'll be interesting to see if it survives, or meets with a bulldozer.


Drew Penfield said...

As the last of its kind it certainly deserves to be saved. However, my cynical side expects it to be bulldozed and replaced with a bland building housing a perpetual stream of new/failing businesses.

Bob Kovach said...

My father grew up in that house during the late thirties and early forties.