Monday, September 21, 2015

The Motel Inside Skate World

The Morning Journal had a great article last week by Drew Scofield on Skate World’s 40th Anniversary. It included some nice quotes by Alice Carter, the roller rink’s owner, and she mentioned something very interesting about the building.

"Before it was converted into a skate rink the building previously was a motel and a truck stop,” she was quoted in the article.

The motel was originally called Ed’s Place Motel – Ed being Ed Blahay. You can see it in this photo below; it’s the long building with the white roof at the left hand side of the photo.

Photo circa mid-to late 1950s
(Courtesy of Lorain Historical Society)
Here’s its city directory listing from 1961 (below).

1961 City Directory Listing
It later was renamed Benny’s Motel when Ben Hart owned it beginning around 1963. 

1963 City Directory Listing
It continued being listed in the directory even after Ben Hart’s death until around 1970.

I had first heard about the Skate World’s previous life as a motel from Realtor Bill Latrany many years ago in a series of emails we exchanged about Lorain’s skating heritage. Bill worked at Skate World, and was the DJ there for more than fourteen years.

Bill was also a witness to the motel’s conversion to a roller rink. He wrote, "Bill Starbuck of Star Builders built the rink around 1973 or '74, but didn't finish and open until the first week of October in 1975.

"I remember my mother taking me down there while the rink was under construction as she knew one of the original owners (Joe Matuszak). He would give us the nickel tour of the place and the progress of construction.

Bill also explained how the motel and truck stop were integrated into the roller rink complex.

"As for the motel that is attached to the west end of the rink, which the rink was built around, it's comprised of the offices, skate room, skate shop and restrooms. They made very excellent use of the existing building in a very creative manner, even using the old window cutouts from each of the motel rooms as bulletin boards for promoting events in the rink itself.

"The rooftop serves as the balcony and storage areas.   There was also a Sohio gas station on the front portion of the lot, between the former restaurant to the east and the motel to the west.
"The parking lot was where the skating floor is now.” 
Here’s an aerial view of Skate World today to compare with the 1950s photo.
Here are some photographs I took inside Skate World last summer when I went there to interview Alice Carter. This one (below) shows how the former motel was integrated into the structure on the west side of the rink.
These shots of the hallway (below) shows the front front of the motel with the doors that previously opened to the parking lot. Alice told me that each room or office had its own bathroom.
Here are some closeups showing the windows that were converted to bulletin boards.
I thought this vintage Victor Selectorama candy vending machine in the hallway was pretty cool (below). These things are all over the internet in various stages of rehabilitation.
My interview with Alice Carter last summer was focused on the trailer park to the west of Skate World. That’s because I was still trying to learn more about the Green Lantern Camp. Alice was able to provide me with answers to some of my questions, since she used to own the trailer park. (Watch for an updated post soon.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great set of blogs Dan!! I had friends from Memphis who moved just West of these stills in 1959. The small houses are still there they are little yellow wooden ones. Housing was scarce then. Same year 1959 my husband moved up from Memphis w/ his family to Cromwell Gardens about 2 blocks from a then 3 yo me haha! They had moved i w/ another couple until they bought in S Amherst. Rae