Monday, July 8, 2013

Bye Bye Broadway Building?

The view on Saturday
It was strange reading in the Morning Journal this past week (here) that so many politicians in Lorain want to see the landmark Broadway Building torn down. Much of the population apparently feels the same way, judging by the comments posted online.

The Broadway Building under construction in 1925
The Broadway Building has been part of Downtown Lorain since 1926. Who would have ever imagined the possibility of it being torn down?

Unfortunately, a variety of issues – including the current selling price of the property and the cost of renovations and repairs – make it likely that it will be demolished.

It's surprising that there doesn't seem to the same affection for the Broadway Building that there was for the Gel-Pak Building. A federal award of $6.6 million was spent renovating the Gel-Pak Building; wouldn't it be great if grants could also be used to restore a building that was once the linchpin of Downtown Lorain?

Since there doesn't seem to be a need for hotel rooms in Downtown Lorain, it would also be nice if the Broadway Building was once again used for its original purpose – providing offices for dozens of small businesses and organizations. Through the years, a variety of companies called it – and Downtown Lorain – home.

In 1926, the building was brand new and largely vacant. But it was still home to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, lawyers, realtors, architects, a beauty shop, a contractor and a billiards room in the basement. The 1930s brought more tenants to the Broadway Building, such as the Lorain Chamber of Commerce. During the 1940s, the Board of Elections, the Lorain Chapter of the American Red Cross, a photographer, a collection agency, and investment companies moved in. And the 1950s saw the Girl Scouts, the U.S. Housing Expediters, the U.S. Army - Air Force Recruiting Station, the Social Security Administration, the American Cancer Society, the Lorain Community Chest, and others calling the building home.

And in the 1960s, tenants still included the U. S. Selective Service Local Board No. 71, Kelly Services, the City Dept. of Community Development, the Lorain Port Authority, and Dr. James R. Coulter – my family's dentist.

It's easy to see how the Broadway Building touched the lives of many Lorainites. That's why it's a shame that yet another symbol of Lorain's glory days will probably end up as a vacant lot.

Will this familiar view soon be a thing of the past? We'll see.

11 comments:

Ken said...

Let's not forget the bowling alley.

Bill Rees said...

it seems that the only thing that lorain knows how to do is to "tear it down". what a total waste of polititians.

Bill Rees said...

Dan..you've got a great website here. i look forward to viewing it daily.

Anonymous said...

They should just get it over with and bulldoze the entire city of Lorain. Level everything. Then they can put the dollar stores, Wal-marts, and payday loan places wherever they want.

Anonymous said...

What a shame. That building is like the centerpiece of downtown Lorain. Our town just won't look the same.

Doug Majka said...

Sam Cooke opened his bowling alley in the basement in 1927. In 1948 the name was changed to Broadway Lanes, and the lanes closed in 1988. That was about the same time Spitzer did the renovation. It was spooky as a little kid in the early 70's parking under the bridge to go the lanes. My dad bowled there on Friday nights.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Doug,
Thanks for filling in that information for me. The earliest directories with the Broadway Building listed only showed that "Lorain Recreation" was in the basement and it listed only billiards for several years so I wasn't too sure about when the bowling alley opened. I too bowled there a few times in the 70s when we couldn't find open bowling anywhere else!

Anonymous said...

Southview High School's Class of 1981 had their 10 year reunion in the basement ballroom of the Broadway Building - where the bowling alley once was. My friend and I bowled there several times before the alleys closed. The bowling equipment and the wood elves mural went to the former Stony's in Elyria.

Wireless.Phil said...

When the roof sign (big green square) was falling apart threatening people and traffic. I reported it to the police, they didn't know where the "Broadway Building" was.
You had to tell them The Spitzer Building.

madmex300@yahoo.com said...

I have rescued the old elf bowling mural that used to be in broadway lanes and am trying to research what year it was painted. It is signed by Bob Iwanicki whom graduated in 1957 from lorain high school and ended up in hollywood painting sets for "days of our lives" and who also painted personal photo's for stars such as johnny carson and more.anyone have any info? It will soon be displayed in all its glory at strikeout lanes in wellington

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Thanks, MadMex!