Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vintage Postcards of Johnson Hill in Amherst

Dennis Lamont sent me the link to this vintage postcard, which was for sale on Ebay last week. It depicts a view of Johnson Hill, looking north on S. Main Street towards its intersection with Elyria Avenue. The Plenochrome postcard was postmarked August 1912 and was published by H. A. Williams, Amherst, Ohio.

I'm not very knowledgable when it comes to Amherst or its history, so I wasn't familiar with Johnson Hill.

It turns out that apparently this serene scene was a popular subject for postcards. Here's another version, courtesy of the Amherst Public Library website. According to this link on the library's website, the postcard dates to 1910. (The site also points out a landmark visible in the background on the postcard that still exists today.)

The two-story house on the far left of each postcard, sitting high up from the road, can be seen in this current aerial shot below (courtesy of Bing maps). It's still all by itself at the top of the hill, on a huge lot, more than a hundred years after the postcards were published.
Here's a closer look at the house, courtesy of the Lorain County Auditor's website (below). According to the website, it dates to 1904.
This past weekend, on a cloudy Sunday morning, I attempted to get a through-the-windshield "now" shot to match the postcards. But a century of tree growth made it fairly impossible. As Dennis pointed out, it is "a view that is long gone."
I'll have to try again sometime to get a better shot – maybe in the fall.


Rick Kurish said...

When you blog about Amherst you are talking about the town I grew up in. In fact I am familiar with the house at the edge of the ravine in your blog. I graduated from high school with a girl who lived there. It is a great property, sitting at quite an elevation from the road, and if I remember correctly, the property extended down into the ravine --- very cool yard for a young boy! When I was growing up, the large trellis on the front of the house was covered in summer with a vine called Dutchman's pipe, and perhaps it still is. The vine had rather large leaves, and a rather strange little flower, which sort of resembles a pipe, hence the name. However, it gave the porch a very nice shady and private place to sit in the summer.

I was surprised to see a boardwalk along the road in the postcard. When I was a kid there was no sidewalk along the road, and it was somewhat dangerous to walk or ride your bicycle on the road, what with the hill and all.

As a final note, the Methodist Church in the current photo, at the junction of South Main St. and Elyria avenue is where I attended when I was growing up, and where my wife and I were married. Thanks for the memories!

Col. Matt Nahorn said...

Hi Dan. You know why it is called Johnson Hill? The name comes from an early settler, Salmon Johnson, who bought land from the founder of Amherst's downtown area, Josiah Harris. This was in the 1820s. Salmon built a small Greek Revival house, said to be I believe the 5th house built downtown in Amherst. It was moved slightly off its original foundation in later years, but this is a link to the house on the Auditor's website. As you'll see, it is in the general vicinity of the hill and all. Thought you might find that interesting. Hope all is well with you. -Col. Matt Nahorn

Dan Brady said...

Hi Matt!
Thanks so much for posting that. I am admittedly uninformed when it comes to the history of Amherst, and was hoping someone would rescue me here with the history behind the name of Johnson Hill. Thanks very much! I'll be doing a follow-up post at some point, I received in my email a vintage postcard of the hill from the other direction, so I'll do "now" shots in the fall once the leaves fall!