Monday, August 22, 2016

John’s Motel & Cabins – Part 2

The former Kovanic home at the corner of Hazelwood and Liberty.
You can see the motel cabins in back.
On Friday, Bill Nahm posted a link to my story on John’s Motel and Cabins on the “You Know You’re From Vermilion” Facebook page. Bill was guessing that some of the locals could help provide some answers as to where the motel and cabins were located.

Bill was right.

It didn’t take long for more than a dozen helpful Facebook members to weigh in with information to pinpoint the location of John Kovanic’s business. More than three hundred page views of my original post took place within a day or so (compared to my usual thirty or so hits a day).

Thanks to everyone who helped by leaving a comment.

As more than one person pointed out, the Kovanics lived in the big, brick house at the corner of Hazelwood and Liberty (U.S. Route 6) seen at the top of this post. The house's address is still 3265 Liberty.

Having a real address helped me research what happened to the motel after John Kovanic retired.

Within a few years, it became the Shipwreck Motel – just as one of the Vermilion Facebook members remembered. (When I read that, I vaguely remembered a small, distressed boat that sat in front of the motel over the years.)

The Shipwreck Motel appeared in the Lorain phone book listings until the 1977-78 edition, when its listing was replaced by Sunset Motel at the same address.

Apparently, Sunset Motel was one of two motels that made up a small local chain. The other Sunset Motel was out on U. S. Route 20 East near Oberlin. They both appeared next to each other in the listings until the 1980 directory, when only the one on Route 20 was listed.

There are still motel cabins behind the former Kovanic house. It’s hard to tell if they are the same ones in the vintage photo, or if they were entirely rebuilt.

Often, tourist court operators would update their old, individual cabins by joining them together structurally to form a more modern-looking block of rooms.

Here's what they look like.

One of the interesting things about the Facebook comment is that a few people disagreed about the location of the Kovanic cabins. At least one person remembered them being located further east.
There were actually a lot of cabins along that stretch of highway. The 1954 Lorain County Farm & Rural Directory listed three cabin camps all in that same area on the south side of the highway. Besides the Kovanic cabins, there were also tourist cabins associated with Rich D. Kish and his grocery located near Sunnyside, and Pickering’s Cabins which were listed as being near Ferndale.

Before I wrap up this topic, I would be remiss if I did not mention Adele Kovanic, who was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Kovanic. More than one person on the Vermilion Facebook page noted that she is still living on Hazelwood.

It sounds like Adele is very well known for her musical talents. One person noted, “She taught music at VHS for years and was the organist at St Mary's. Another remembered, "Ask any older member of St. Mary’s, they will know all about her. She was my high school music teacher."

Even Dennis Lamont emailed me about Adele, noting, “She is quite an accomplished musician, having taught music in Vermilion and was one of the organists at St Mary’s.

"She retired a few years ago. She could not only play anything on the organ but effortlessly transpose music as she played. When a priest intoned a high mass she was instantly "in tune" with him.”

Dennis noted that Adele was "One of a kind, we are glad we were able to see and hear her in her prime."

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