Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Pueblo – Part 6

In 1955, El Pueblo Bar & Restaurant had a ringside seat for US Highway 6 construction.

It was all explained in an article on the front page of the Lorain Journal on January 31, 1955 under the heading, "Four Lane 52 Foot Highway.” The article stated,"Three hundred parcels of land will be sliced this year and many buildings moved when the state highway department widens Lake Rd., extending 8.9 miles between Lorain and Vermilion.

"The extensive slicing of properties, including some buildings, became known today when state highway officials revealed the highway will be widened from the existing 30 feet to 52 feet.

"The 52 feet will include four 12-foot lanes. There will be a four foot divider between the four lanes said Raymond Stull, design engineer at the state highway division headquarters in Ashland.

"One section of the job extends 7.7 miles from Vermilion east to the Nickel Plate railroad underpass. Cost is estimated at $2 million.

"The second section includes the underpass improvement and road widening from 30 to 52 feet from the underpass east to Lorain, 1.2 miles at an estimated cost of $2.2 million."

It didn't take long for there to be a reaction to the state highway department's announcement. Even John Giannini, El Pueblo's owner, had a comment to make in the article below, which appeared on the front page of the Lorain Journal the very next day on February 1, 1955.

Road Job Opposition Flares Up
Lake Rd. Land Owners Upset

A poll of Lake road property owners affected by proposed widening of the Lorain-Vermilion highway today, showed reactions from mild approval to violent opposition. In some cases, impressions gained by property owners from state appraisers and surveyors are in direct contrast to official state announcements made yesterday.

The state highway department announced the highway would be widened from its present width of 30 feet to 52 feet for the 8.9 miles, with four 12-foot lanes and a four foot divider.

Kelly Sees Loss
Frank Kelly, owner and manager of Kelly's Trailer Court, one wile west of Lorain, feels he will lose money no matter how much compensation he receives from the state for his property. He said:

"The plan of taking 11 feet from my side of the highway will cut into my trailer camp just enough so I will lose at least three trailer sites. At my present rate of income I will lose more than $100 per month.

"I can't make a living unless I can fill this area with 40 trailers and I don't have that many now. When the state takes away three spaces worth about $35 per month, is it going to compensate me for that loss in income?"

Cheerful Comments
A more cheerful point of view is that of John Giannini, manager of the Pueblo Inn. He feels he can't lose no matter what the state does. "But it is my understanding," he said, "that I won't be affected at all. They aren't supposed to take anything from my side."

Giannini, whose inn is on the left going to Vermilion, received the impression from state men the highway would be expanded on the opposite side and none of his property would be needed.

Sees More Business
"If they change their minds," said Giannini, "and move to my side, the highway would cut across the front of my building. I would have to remodel, but it would give me a better building and I would be compensated by the state. So I can't lose either way. Besides, the new highway will bring me more business."

He set the cost of remodeling at a minimum of $30,000.

John Clotz, manager of the Texaco Station, also on the left side of the highway, said, "I don't believe we will be hurt at all. When we built this station we checked to make sure we would be all right if the highway were widened in the future and we were assured everything was in order. Of course, we won't know anything until the state tells us definitely."

Can't Determine State's Plan
Gordon Wheeler, manager of the Cities Service Station on the right side of the highway, said, "If they take too much of the front of my property I'm out of business. The state men tell me very little will be needed from the rest of my place and that most will come from the other side of the road. I have just enough space to handle cars on either side of my pumps and if I have to move them closer to my building I will lost hundreds of customers. I can't find out what the state is going to do, so I don't know what I'm going to do."

Robert Burke, owner of the Sohio Service Station, Vermilion-on-the-Lake, is both worried and puzzled at the various stories he had received from state officials. He said"

"The state men told me they would need a distance from the highway that would cut at least eight feet from my present building.

I read this is to be a four lane highway, but they told me the highway will have six lanes through this area. If they need only 11 feet, why come clear into my building, over 40 feet from the present highway? I can't figure it out and I can't decide whether to rebuild or what do do until they make up their minds."

Gloomy Outlook
A. B. Zeigman, owner of Zeigman's Garage, in Brownhelm Township on the outskirts of Vermilion, said:

“I might as well go out of business if the state does what I’ve heard they are going to do. Even if they move me back only 11 feet, I will have to remodel or rebuild and then I run into a local ordinance which says I have to be 75 feet back from the highway. And what good is a garage back that distance from the road?”

Also affected by the Brownhelm Township ordinance, in addition to worrying over the state’s plans are Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Sobiech, owners of the Elberta Grocery, next to Zeigman’s.

“We’ve heard so many different rumors and stories that we are completely up in the air and, frankly, sick about the whole thing,” said Mrs. Sobiech.

No Room For Parking
“As we understand the plans, our grocery will be only nine feet away from the new highway. That is much too close and leaves no room for parking. Nobody seems to know where the new highway is going to go, least of all the state men we have talked to and we just don’t know what plans to make.

“We can’t move our store back any more as our house is right behind it. But I can tell you one thing. We will protest darn loud if they stick to the plans that only leave us nine feet in front.”

The calmest reaction of all the persons interviewed was that of George W. Hess, manager of Elberta Inn, also of the right side of the highway and near Vermilion. Said Hess:

“If they come 11 feet our way we will have only one foot in front of our building. We may have to remodel but I can make no definite statement until we know exactly what the State highway department is going to do. The men we have talked to tell us they don’t know any more than we do, we will just have to wait and see.”

Visited By Appraisers
All of the property owners interviewed reported they had not as yet been contacted as to actual purchase of their lands and buildings, but had been visited by appraisers or surveyors.

The state announced the project will be divided into two parts, costing a total of $4.2 million. The first section extends from Vermilion east to Nickel Plate Railroad underpass for a distance of 7.7 miles. The second section will include an underpass improvement and widening of the road from the underpass 1.2 miles east to Lorain.

Work on the highway project began in March 1956.

Here’s a great construction photo (below) that ran in the Lorain Journal in August 1956.

The view is looking east; beyond the railroad undercut, the approximate location of the Pueblo is indicated by the red arrow. At the very bottom of the photo is the Ed Blahay Transportation Company property.

West Lake Road west from Leavitt Road to the underpass was closed to through traffic on October 4, 1956. However, the road was still open to El Pueblo.

The restaurant placed a special ad (below) thanking their customers for their patronage during the year in the December 24, 1956 Lorain Journal.

An ad (below) that ran in the Journal on February 1, 1957 reminded the public that the highway was indeed open to the Pueblo.
On October 3, 1957, West Lake Road was opened to through traffic again for the first time in almost a year. And with construction completed, El Pueblo was now sitting at the end of a short, bypassed and unnamed section of the highway known as Pueblo Drive today.
Next: More changes for the Pueblo


Anonymous said...

Very interesting Dan. I've heard many people talk about buildings being relocated or torn down to accommodate the widening of lake road. The Elberta Inn is one that comes to mind.

I see Benny Hart's in the photo! Or what would become Benny's soon. Can't mistake those roof lines.


Wireless.Phil said...

Ok, 1956 is about when the road changed, I would have been about 5 years old.