Friday, August 29, 2014

Domonkas Library Article – Sept. 20, 1963

The Domonkas Branch of the Lorain Public Library in Sheffield Lake (my town) is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Hard to believe it's been there that long.

Many people in Sheffield Lake may not know the story of Stephen and Ruth Domonkas and how their generosity and love for the city made the library possible. That's why I'm posting this article (below) written by Ron Royhab that originally appeared in the Journal on Friday, September 20, 1963. It tells the whole story of the "big reveal" of the previously unidentified donor.


Library Benefactor Revealed
Stephen Domonkas Donates $100,000 To Sheffield Lake

SHEFFIELD LAKE – The "great mystery" of the unidentified donor who has offered to give $100,000 for the construction of a library in Sheffield Lake was revealed Thursday night at the Lorain Public Library.

The donor, Stephen Domonkas, 3719 Lake Rd., agreed to donate the money under two conditions – that the library be built on the Kennedy F. Green property, adjacent to the present Community Park, and be given his name.

In April Sheffield Lake City Council authorized the purchase of the Green property for $36,000 when it learned of Domonkas' offer.

At the meeting, C. Paul Stocker, president of the Lorain Library Board, gave the reasons for keeping the name of the donor unpublished.

"This pleasant occasion took months of behind the scenes work," Stocker said, "and there were so many things to settle before we could take this gift for the Sheffield Lake Library."

Monday night City Council passed an ordinance authorizing Mayor Frank Duguid and Service Director Jack Schaffer to sign and execute, on behalf of the city, a contract of lease with the Lorain Library Board.

The contract stipulates that the Lorain Library Board Trustees of the Lorain County Extension Center will lease the city-owned property for 99 years at the rate of $10 per year.

The library will be called "Domonkas Public Library."

According to Stocker, the library should be completed by next September. The donation should cover the cost of the building, but books and materials will be purchased by Lorain Library Fund.

Alfred L. Fauver, Lorain architect, drew up the master plans for the library.

The whole plan started when Domonkas contacted Stocker and asked, "How do you get a library in this town." Domonkas held a meeting of the board in his home and announced his donation to get a library in Sheffield Lake.

Domonkas, born in Hungary, came to the United States in 1896. He was the owner and operator of two car lots in Cleveland. One was on the East Side and the other was on the West Side. He was with the General Motors Co. for 42 years.

He and his wife, Ruth, have traveled the world six times. They have been in every country in the world. They just recently came back from Alaska.

This 75-year-old man told the group why he made this donation.

"I have always been interested in education. A library is the best medium for educating youngsters and adults – you're never too old to learn."

"Actually," he went on, "the motive in back of this whole thing is that I am glad to do this for the group of people I live with."

The Domonkases have lived in Sheffield Lake for 40 years.

Mrs. Domonkas said, "We don't have a family, we found Sheffield Lake, watched it grow and wanted to do something good for it."

She remarked that her husband always enjoyed reading. "When he was a boy," she said, "he would spend his allowance on books and pay for them but the week."

Mayor Duguid remarked, "There is no statement that could show our appreciation. This library will benefit our community – children and adults alike.

Miss Marion M. King, who has been with the Lorain Public Library for 26 years, said that the new library would be able to house 25,000 volumes, but would not be stocked with that many at first.

Sheffield Lake City officials including the mayor and Council President Earl Barnhart were present at the meeting.

To find out more about the history of the Domonkas Library, as well as information concerning some special 50th anniversary events, click here to visit the library's website.)

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