Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fire Destroys Midway Tavern – October 1933

In August, I did a post on the 1941 demolition of the Beebe Tavern, a former stage coach inn in Elyria. Well, here’s the story of the loss of another landmark from stagecoach days – the Whiskeyville Midway Tavern. The story of the fire that destroyed it ran on the front page of the Lorain Journal on October 6, 1933.

Fire Destroys 100-year-old Midway Tavern
Hostelry of Stage-Coach Days Burns to Ground at ‘Whiskeyville’
$4,000 DAMAGE
Family Makes Escape by Climbing From Second Story Porch

Fire early this morning destroyed one of the few remaining Lorain-co landmarks of the historic stage-coach days – the Whiskeyville Midway Tavern.

The tavern, located at the intersection of Oberlin and Telegraph-rds, eight miles south of Lorain, at daylight today was but a mound of ashes and debris. Fire of underdetermined origin started in the lower floor of the building at 3 a.m.

Harold Wallace, operator of the structure which was remodeled into a modern inn in 1916, his wife, two sons and a girl employed at the Tavern, narrowly escaped in their night clothing. They were forced to descend from a second story porch to escape with their lives, according to deputy sheriffs.

Escape Thru Window
They were all asleep in the building when the blaze was discovered, and smokes and flames cut off their exit except from a window over the porch.

Neighboring farmers and the Amherst fire department, under Ed Menz, assistant chief, fought the flames in vain. The only water available was from a well and it was pumped dry within five minutes.

The garage on the property caught fire, but was saved. Flames spread to the Kline gasoline station and general store across the road, but volunteer firemen extinguished the blaze without much damage.

The clothing and all possessions of the Wallaces, excepting a rocking chair and a small stand, were destroyed.

The Tavern was more than 100 years old and was used in the stage coach days as an over-night stop between Cleveland and Toledo.

Inn on Stage-Coach Line
Mrs. Burt Galloway, 325 North-st, Elyria is the owner of the property. She says the building was used as an inn on the Pittsburgh stage-coach line. She had it remodeled when she bought it in 1916.

Wallace, who formerly lived in Oberlin, had been operating the tavern since September, 1932.

A group of men from an ice cream firm in Bellevue had a party at the tavern last night but they had left the place a long time before the fire was discovered.

Sheriff Clarence Dick today summoned a state fire marshall to investigate the blaze. Damage was estimated at $4,000.

Also on the same front page were some interesting items. The Nickel Plate railroad agreed to install flasher signals in Lorain at the Leavitt Road crossing; the removal of two bends in the Black River south of the Nickel Plate bridge was planned. Most interesting of all was an upcoming special election would result in the secession of the southern half of Sheffield Lake Village, eventually leading to the creation of two separate communities: Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Village.


Anonymous said...

Do we know the site if the tavern? Is it where the former Suburban and more recently called Whiskeyville?

Dan Brady said...

I don’t know for sure yet which corner it was on. I tried to determine it looking at vintage maps but so far was unsuccessful.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious which corner it was on as well as the general store. I drive past there often.

Wireless.Phil said...

Sheffield Lake split, 1933

Early History

The town of Sheffield Lake has long been overshadowed by its larger neighbors, existing for many decades in a quiet space between the industrial might of Lorain to the west, and the mix of residences and industry in Avon Lake to the east. Although Sheffield was the first township organized after the creation of Lorain County in 1822, Sheffield Lake in its present form resulted from changes and divisions that began shortly before the turn of the twentieth century. Township land west of the Black River became the site of the Johnson Steel Company and was annexed by the city of Lorain in 1894, as was land west of Root Road. The village of Sheffield Lake was incorporated in 1920, but the needs and aspirations of the residents in the northern and southern parts of the village had begun to diverge. In 1933 they voted to separate, creating Sheffield Village south of Sheffield Lake.

Robert Marr said...

Anyone know anything about Lucius Cummins, the guy whose name was on the building? We know he lived in the Amherst area, but haven't found any info as to why his name was on the building. Anything???

Dan Brady said...

Hi Robert,

I did a very quick scan of the Amherst Newspaper Archives this morning. The Amherst Free Press of April 4, 1879 includes a letter to the editor from Lucius himself.

It reads, "A few weeks ago I became convinced that my business In some of its features was debasing to the moral atmosphere of the community, crushing to the sacredness of home and repugnant to the teachings of Holy Writ. I therefore decided that henceforth my household be untrammeled by anything of an intoxicating nature, looking only for freedom of conscience and a place among the lovers of God and temperance. But on the 28, ult., our friends gave us a hearty recognition in the Infancy of our new life. Over the arglllous (and at this season of the year, almost impassable), roads from Oberlin came the band boys and others, from surrounding villages and Immediate vicinity, came many ot the admirers of song with light hearts and words of cheer. The hours passed pleasantly, with music, vocal and instrumental, it was to us one of the happiest evenings we ever experienced, and we take this way of tendering our thanks to all who have thus Interested themselves In our welfare. Lucius Cummins, prop'r. hotel. Sarah J. Cummins, East Amherst, March 31, 1879

The March 24, 1932 Amherst News Times includes Sarah J. Cummins' obituary, in which it is noted that "She is survived by her husband, L. D. Cummins."

If Lucius is indeed L.D. Cummins, it appears that he passed away on August 18, 1932 according to the Amherst News-TImes (although it refers to him as a retired farmer).

If I scrounge up enough corroborating stuff about Lucius, maybe I can do a post about him.

Robert Marr said...

Thanks, Dan. I had also done a scan of the Amherst papers and came up blank. My capabilities are slipping. ):
I had found a lot about him on ancestry, but nothing to substantiate his interests in the Whiskeyville building. I feel pretty confident that Lucius is our guy, especially after seeing him sign the letter "prop'r. hotel".
Thanks again for your super-sleuthing!