Monday, July 6, 2015

Elyria Avenue and E. 21st Street – Then & Now

Here's a rare photo (above) that I never thought I'd see. It's a view of the intersection of E. 21st Street and Elyria Avenue that predates the construction of the railroad underpass. The view is looking east.

For many years, I've wondered what that area looked like before the bridge approach and underpass were built during 1939-40.

Here's my now shot (below).

Although some of the buildings seen in the vintage photo are gone, a few remain, such as the house off in the distance as well as the grey building at 2105 Elyria Avenue. 
Speaking of that building at the corner of E. 21st and Elyria, I received an email about it from a reader named Amy in Elyria just a few weeks ago. She was curious about its history and humorously observed that it "has always given me the creeps and my children feel the same."
I knew what she meant. Perhaps it's the disembodied doll heads and other things in the windows that seem to be saying, "Help! Get us outta here!" that give the building a sinister, torture-chamber-like appearance.

Even Bugs Bunny seems to be saying,
"Hey, Doc! Call the police!"
Or maybe it's because before it was spruced up and rehabilitated, the building would have been right at home in a Western ghost town. 
A quick look through the city directories at the library reveals that the building has been there since around 1919. It usually had two or three names listed at the address. While most of these names appear to be just longtime residents, I was able to identify a couple of businesses that were run out of the building or its small addition.
The 1921-22 directory entry lists a barber named John Pasko and a soft drink business run by Kasper Ruminski. By the time of the 1931 edition, John Pasko still had his barber shop there and the soft drink business was now run by Jason Miraldi. The Miraldi soft drinks listing continued to appear in the books for a few more years.
An earlier view, courtesy of the
Lorain County Auditor website
In 1939, the Order of International Workers was also listed along with the residents. It wasn't until the late 1940s that the name Thomas Smith and his repair shop became the regular listing for the building right into the 1950s.
The building is apparently still in the Smith family, and currently is the home of Tom's Corner (245-9161), which specializes in collectibles.

The building is for sale too. I'm not sure if the creepy window decorations are part of the purchase.


Anonymous said...

When i opened the blog ,I also saw something I never expected to see, the name John Pasko barber. My grandfather!! Im very excited. His shop was there until around 1940 maybe,not sure ,but I do know he moved to 23rd st . I remember sitting in the barber chair with him. Thanks for the memory, judy

Dan Brady said...

Hi Judy! Thanks for posting that about your grandfather. I didn't do very thorough research about the building so I 'm glad that some good came out of the little I did! Thanks again!

Rick Kurish said...

Interesting picture. Too bad the focus wasn't a little crisper. I would like to read what is apparently printed on the window of the corner building. Under enlargement the photo does appear to show the remnants of the old trolly line which someone told me connected Broadway to 28th Street via 21st Street and Fulton Avenue. Since this route would have been on Steel Plant property, it was discontinued years before the remainder of the trolly system. The tracks appear to be long gone in the photo, but the right of way is still apparent. Perhaps one of your railroad/trolly experts can tell me if what I'm seeing is in fact a line that at one time connected to 28th Street via Fulton Ave.

Drew Penfield said...

You're right, Rick, that was the original route of the Lorain Street Railway. When it was opened as a horse-car line in 1888, it ran only to around present-day 21st Street. When Tom Johnson bought the line and rebuilt it in 1894, it was extended down Dexter Street (now East 21st), and Fulton to 10th Ave (now East 28th Street.) The problem was, the electric cars had to cross multiple railroad tracks at three locations, and there was always the danger of accidents. When the 28th Street underpass was built, the Lake Shore Electric (by then the parent of the Lorain Street Railway) made an arrangement with the Cleveland Southwestern to share their track on Broadway south of 21st Street, then turn on 28th, and go under the railroad tracks.

I believe Dan talked about some of that in his old posts about Aunty Ferguson's cabin on the Globeville Road.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan! Lisa from Lorain 365 here :) The building on the corner of 21st & Elyria belongs to my husband's uncle. I'm sure he'd be happy to show you around and let you take photos of what he has for sale. He is a nice guy with a different sense of humor - thus the "torture chamber-like" windows.

Rick, there isn't anything printed on the windows. That's a menagerie of signs - For Sale, Tom's Corner, store hours, etc.