Friday, July 29, 2016

Monkey-Faced Owls in Avon – July 1941

To finish out July, here’s another article from that very same July 4, 1941 edition of the Lorain Journal that had the Sheffield Lake mystery suitcase article that I wrote about yesterday. This article is about the discovery of a family of “monkey-faced” owls in an Avon barn.

At first it sounded like some sort of genetic experiment gone awry. But as it turns out, another name for the “monkey-faced” owl is: the barn owl! Oh well.

It’s still a nice little slice of Avon life deemed newsworthy back in July 1941 – 75 years ago this month.

****

'Monkey-Faced’ Owls Call Avon Farm 'Home'
Family of Seven Ousts Pigeons From Loft in
Corn Crib at Joseph Long Home

By MRS. FREDERICKA WILFORD

AVON – Joseph Long, of Long-rd, is confident he has the most unusual tenant family in Lorain-co.

The tenants, consisting of the mother and father and five youngsters are owls, commonly known as "monkey-faced" owls. The  birds recently invaded the pigeon loft in Long's corn crib, chased out the pigeons and established themselves to raise their family.

The seven young owls, whose faces resemble those of small monkeys, are thought by Long and his neighbor, Nick Schuster who is well-versed in wood lore, to be the only ones of their kind ever seen in this vicinity.

Pigeons Find New Home
Long doesn't know just when the owls arrived and doesn't know anything of their history. When visitors come, the owlets start a weird rising and falling hiss which sounds like a fierce gale blowing at a distance. If the visitors get too close, out come claws and the hissing increases in volume.

Altho Long doesn't know the beginning of his new "pets," he will know the rest of it, at least as long as they stay in the corn crib loft for he's watching the family closely.

The ousted pigeons meekly found new quarters elsewhere on the farm.

****
Poor pigeons.

So what does a monkey-faced owl look like? Well, like this (below). Kinda creepy.

Adult female Barn Owl
(Courtesy www.allaboutbirds.org)
Are you wondering what their hiss sounds like? Then click here to visit the allaboutbirds.org site, where you will find a nice collection of barn owl hisses, screams, calls and wing-claps to enjoy.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sheffield Lake Mystery Suitcase – July 1941

Here’s an interesting little news nugget from the July 4, 1941 edition of the Lorain Journal. It’s about a mysterious suitcase found in the woods at Stop 91 in Sheffield Lake, which coincidentally is right around where I live.

****
MARSHAL BAFFLED BY NEW "MYSTERY'
Sheffield Lake Officer Asks Police Aid.

(By Staff Correspondent)
SHEFFIELD LAKE – After a week of investigation during which he was unable to find any tangible clues, Marshal Henry Miller today turned over to Lorain police a "mystery" which he confesses baffles him.

A week ago Monday, Miller declared, one of his deputies found a suitcase full of clothes, some of them apparently blood-smeared, in the woods just north of E. Lake-rd at Stop 91.

Besides the clothes, the grip contained social security and draft registration cards, CCC discharge and seaman's papers issued to a Donald McQuarrie. All the various cards bore different addresses in Detroit, Buffalo, and Tewksbury, Mass.

Miller expressed a fear of "foul play" when he found a pair of pants to a suit missing and in its stead a greasy shirt and overalls.

In the shirt was a payroll record issued by a Cleveland Triplex Screw Co. employe who since has found to be missing from his home.

Whether the grip was stolen and later disposed of or whether its owner was attacked is still a mystery to Marshal Miller, he said.

****
I think this scenario would make the basis for a pretty good crime novel. (Maybe someday I’ll take a whack at it.)

I Googled the name ‘Donald McQuarrie’ and surprisingly, it wasn’t as rare as I thought. There’s even online mentions of a few Donald McQuarries meeting their demise, but they took place in the 1800s.

If I get some time, I’ll (groan) check the microfilm in the days and weeks following July 4, 1941 to see if Lorain’s Finest ever solved the mystery.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cedar Villa Italian Restaurant

My posts last week about Cicco's Tavern and Cicco's Spaghetti Sauce reminded me that I had a jar of Cedar Villa Italian Restaurant's trademark sauce in my pantry.

I picked up my jar of Cedar Villa Pasta Sauce earlier this year at the Vermilion Farm Market.

I had recognized the Cedar Villa name and cartoon mascot on the label from various billboards out by Sandusky through the years. I'd never been to the restaurant (which was located on Route 6 across from the entrance to Cedar Point) and assumed it was still in business; I was disappointed to find out it was closed.

Here's a vintage postcard of the restaurant, courtesy of CardCow.com.


The back of the card reads:

CEDAR VILLA
Italian Restaurant
1918 Cleveland Rd.
off Cedar Point Causeway
Sandusky, Ohio 44870

The Best in Italian and American Food, Closed Monday.
Tues, thru Sat. – 11 A.M. to 4 A. M.
Sun. 11 A.M. to Midnight
Your Hosts – The Spadaro Bros.

An article in the January 2008 Toledo Blade, written at the time of the passing of Maria Barone, who with her husband George owned and operated Cedar Villa and two other Italian restaurants, provides a history of the restaurant. According to the article, the Cedar Villa restaurant was opened by the Barones in the early 60s. (Their previous restaurant, George and Maria's Drive-in and Restaurant, was located at 1717 Cleveland Rd. and also specialized in Italian foods, including homemade ravioli.)

The Spadaro Brothers ran the restaurant until it closed in 2005.

Here is the link to the 2012 obituary of Concetta Spadaro (sister of Maria Barone), who worked with her sons at the Cedar Villa Restaurant from 1973 until 2005.

A Google Maps view (below) of the property shows that the Cedar Villa building is gone.

And here's an aerial view showing where it was located relative to the entrance to the Cedar Point Causeway (which is seen at the top right of the photo).
Although the restaurant is gone, their signature pasta sauce lives on. Here is the link to the official website.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lakeland Lodge Revisited

Vintage Postcard
A recent photo of the great Lakeland Lodges sign
Just a little bit west of Snider’s Shore Acres (the subject of yesterday’s post) is Lakeland Lodges Motel. The small cottage resort is located one and a half mile west of Vermilion.

I did an earlier post about Lakeland Lodges back in 2012 (here).

The back of the vintage postcard above (published by Richard Koontz, Vermilion, Ohio) shown above gives a nice description of the place in the old days:

Lakeland Lodge, 1 1/2 Miles West of Vermilion, Ohio on Routes 2 & 6. A seasonable, strictly modern Motel on the shores of Lake Erie. Catering to Weekly Reservations. Most rooms with Kitchenettes. Splendid private beach. 3/4 of a Mile from Public Golf Course, Dancing, Tennis, Bowling and other forms of Recreation and fine Restaurants near by.

Here’s another vintage postcard view (below).

Since Lakeland Lodges is still in business, the description is pretty accurate. As to be expected, some modern amenities are now offered; cottages are equipped with air-conditioning, heat, cable TV and Wi-Fi.

Here’s the link to the Lakeland Lodges website. It includes some photos of the cottages today, such as this one (below), seen on the far right of the vintage postcard.

Courtesy Lakeland Lodges website
And here’s the best I can do as for a “now” photo to match the vintage postcard at the top of this post.
It’s nice when some things in life don’t change, and Lakeland Lodges appears to be one of them. I’m sure their longtime customers are glad.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Snider’s Shore Acres Near Vermilion

Continuing with my Vacationland theme (which is also a vacation from my regular Lorain County topics), here’s another lakefront business that catered to tourists: Snider’s Shore Acres. It was located about a mile west of Vermilion near Coen Road. As a ‘tourist court’ (the predecessor to today’s motels), it offered cottages to vacationers who wanted to relax by the beach.

The great vintage postcard above shows it to be a tidy, cozy little place.

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about its history. However, the back of the postcard above included a capsule description:

Snider’s Shore Acres
C. H. Snider, Manager
R.F.D. #2
Vermilion, Ohio

This new modern camp located on U. S. 6, one mile west of Vermilion, Ohio. Private bath in every room, hot and cold water, innerspring mattresses, large grounds, seven hundred feet of beach.

Here are some more vintage postcard views.

Today, the property is Shore Acres Mobile Home Park. Like me, you’ve probably driven past its entrance at 13407 W. Lake Road without even knowing it.
Are any of the cottages still there? I drove out there back in May to find out. 
Although it appears that the original cottages are gone, the main building with the two dormers (seen on two of the vintage postcards) is still there (below). As you can see, it’s undergone extensive remodeling.
Here’s an aerial view showing its location.
And here’s a Bing Maps aerial of the whole property.
Judging from a few of its residents, who waved to me as I drove through the park, it’s a nice, friendly place. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 5

Lewis Cicco passed away on April 15, 1959 and his obituary (below) ran in the Lorain Journal the same day. It’s interesting that it focused on his high-profile career as a policeman that he enjoyed before getting into the tavern business.

His obituary describes him as "a big, friendly man with a knack for cultivating friends.” I think that’s a pretty nice way to be remembered!

****
Prohibition Squad Man Dead at 57

Lewis Cicco, a one-time Lorain city policeman who, in 1928, figured in one of the most sensational jury trials in Lorain County court history in connection with the shooting of a British woman subject, died today at 12:30 a. m. at St. Joseph Hospital.

Cicco’s death came on his 57th birthday anniversary following an illness of two weeks.

A native of Italy, Cicco was widely known in Lorain and Erie counties as a restaurant owner and chef for the last 31 years. He was chef at the new Vogue Room Restaurant, 2610 Colorado Ave., at the time of his death.

Cicco was a member of the Lorain prohibition enforcement squad when on the night of Sept. 27, 1928, he fired three shots at the pavement but in the direction of a speeding car believed to be occupied by rum runners.

One of the shots, evidence later showed, ricocheted and struck a British subject, Miss Betty Heywood, 22, of Elyria, in the back of the neck. Miss Heywood was a passenger in the rear seat of the car pursued by Cicco and the two other dry raiders.

The shooting, which took place on the east end of the E. 31st St. Bridge in South Lorain, and the jury trial which followed gained international prominence in newspapers and other publications.

The trial, which lasted two weeks, was one of the most spectacular in the history of the county courts.

Miss Heywood recovered and Cicco was found guilty of assault and battery by a trial jury. Cicco was fined $5 and costs in Lorain County Common Pleas Court. The costs amounted to $258.93.

Cicco, who was suspended from his police job, was later reinstated, but on Dec. 26, 1928, he resigned from the Lorain Police Department, less than eight months after his appointment as a policeman.

A big, friendly man with a knack for cultivating friends, Cicco was popular with restaurant patrons, business associates and fellow workers.

He owned and operated Cicco’s Edgewater Restaurant at Vermilion for about 17 years until two years ago when he sold the business. He also owned and operated the Chestnut Bar at Broadway and 18th St. for several years in the 1930s.

He also was a former employe at the Lorain yards of the American Ship Building Co. and of Alex Roth, a Lorain realtor, on a part-time basis for the past two years.

Cicco came to Lorain from Italy when six years old and lived here until 20 years ago when he moved to Vermilion. The family residence in Vermilion was at RD 1, Risden Rd.

Cicco was a member of the First Congregational Church, Ely Lodge, F. and A.M., and Royal Arch Masons, all of Vermilion; Sandusky Elks Club and Italian Mutual Benefit Society of Lorain.

He is survived by his widow, Edith; a daughter, Mrs. Marino Salvetta of Lorain; a son, Richard Cicco, who is with the U.S. Army in Germany; two brothers, Sam Cicco of Los Angeles, Calif., and Charles Cicco of Lorain; four sisters, Mrs. John Rosso Sr. of Willard, Mrs. Joseph Piserchia of Westfield, N.J., and Mrs. August Gallo and Mrs. Joseph Hoffman, both of Lorain; and two grandchildren.

Friends may call tomorrow after 1 p.m. at Edward M. Fisher Funeral Home, 340 E. South St., Vermilion, where funeral services will be Saturday at 2 p.m.

Ely Lodge Masonic rites will be conducted at the funeral home Friday at 8 p.m.

Rev. Earl T. English, pastor emeritus of First Congregational Church, Vermilion, will officiate at the Saturday funeral service. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery, Vermilion.

****
Special thanks to Carolyn Stringer for her help with the preparation of this blog series. I apologize for the long delay in publishing these posts!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 4

Vintage postcard of Cicco’s Tavern in its heyday.
Note the tall chimneys; they were all that was left after the fire
Carolyn Stringer, granddaughter of Louis and Edith Cicco, owners of Cicco’s Tavern, provided me with some photos of the tragic December 1958 fire that consumed her family's business. As you will see from the photos, the entire building shown on the postcard above – both the one story portion with CICCO’S on the roof as well as the connected multi-story house – were destroyed.
Today, the neighbor's house next door to Cicco’s Tavern – seen in the post-fire photo above – still stands (below) as a landmark of where the tavern was located.

 Here’s a closer look at the neighboring house (below) to compare with the black and white photo.

Next: Lewis Cicco passes away

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 3

In yesterday's post, I told how Cicco's Tavern had been purchased by a Lorain policeman in October 1956, and was being remodeled in June 1957.

Unfortunately, like so many well-known entertainment landmarks in Northeast Ohio, the former Cicco's Edgewater Tavern met a fiery demise. The Sandusky Register of Wednesday, December 30, 1958 told the sad story (below).

****
Fire Lowers Former Cicco Dining Spot

The former Cicco's Tavern on Routes 2 and 6 near Vermilion, being remodeled for residential use by its new owner, John Kochan, Lorain, was destroyed by a Tuesday night fire despite efforts of volunteer firemen from Vermilion, Huron and Berlin Heights.

The former summer restaurant, known as Cicco's, and widely known for its spaghetti and fish dinners, was operated by Louis Cicco as late as two years ago.

The building was unoccupied but plumbers had been making repairs to the heating system Tuesday with the hope that Edgar Maners, a Ford Co. employee, who brought his family from Memphis recently, could move into their new home.

The Maners family was due to occupy the quarters today.

Meanwhile Maners had stored such possessions as clothing, appliances, sewing machine and TV in the building. All were lost.

Even the report cards and school transfer slips for the two Maners children, William, 13 and Lois, 12, were destroyed. The children were to have enrolled in Vermilion school as seventh and sixth graders next Monday.

The family is temporarily living with the Yarborough family near Vermilion.

Fire Chief Carl Blaser and his Vermilion volunteer firemen answered the alarm at approximately 9:15 p.m. when Mrs. Laura Yarborough, living nearby, noticed smoke. Firemen responded with two trucks and then Berlin Heights and Huron firemen were called. Three pieces of equipment from Berlin Heights answered the alarm.

Other residents of the neighborhood reported smoke odor but said they were unable to trace the source until flames burst out of the building.

Firemen were hampered by lack of water and another call sent to Berlin Heights for its tanker. A gas well located near the building also presented a hazard to firemen.

A large crowd watched the flames engulf the building while firemen concentrated efforts on holding the spread of fire to other buildings.

Only the chimney and fireplace remain standing today.

****
The Lorain Journal covered the fire that destroyed Cicco’s Tavern as well.

Here’s the story (below) as it appeared on the paper’s front page on Wednesday, December 31, 1958. The article also includes some history of the Shore Inn, predecessor to Cicco’s Tavern.

****

3 Fire Squads Battle Blaze 
At Cicco’s Tavern, Vermilion

VERMILION – Three fire departments last night battled for almost six hours in an attempt to halt a stubborn blaze that destroyed Cicco’s Tavern, about two-and-a-half miles west of Vermilion on Rts. 2 and 6.

Firemen from Vermilion, Huron and Berlin Heights fought the flames, which were visible a mile away, from shortly after 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Lorain Patrolman John F. Kochan bought the tavern for an estimated $40,000 in October, 1956, from Lewis Cicco of Risden Rd. who had operated it for 20 years, but had not opened it since that time.

An employee of the Ford Motor Co.’s Lorain Assembly Plant, his wife and their three children lost all their clothing and household goods in the fire.

The Ford worker, Edgar Maners, had just brought his family here from Memphis, Tenn., to occupy former living quarters in the building. He had moved in his goods, but Kochan had not permitted the family to occupy it.

Kochan was dissatisfied with the way the heating system was operating, according to Maners.

Vermilion Fire Chief Carl Blaser said it was “too late” to do anything when the department arrived on the scene. Cause of the fire was undetermined at mid-morning and Kochan could not be reached to learn whether the loss was covered by insurance. Blaser said he could not estimate the loss until he talked to Kochan.

Mrs. John Yarborough, who lives in the former Cicco home, saw the smoke and called the fire department at about 9:15 p.m. Vermilion pumpers made two trips into town for more water since the nearby fire hydrant was not working properly.

Mrs. Cicco said today that her husband had operated the tavern for 20 years and that for seven years before that it was unoccupied. Prior to that, “Greebe and Gorman” of Cleveland operated the Shore Inn there, famous for its spaghetti, Mrs. Cicco said.

Kochan paid about $40,000 for the building, according to records in the Erie County Recorder’s Office.

In April 1957, Kochan obtained a building permit in Erie County courthouse for an estimated $4,000 in improvements to the building and reportedly planned to open it as a restaurant and a bar.

Kochan, who joined the Lorain police department on Oct. 1, 1945, lives at 3565 Toledo Ave.

The Maners family would have moved in today if the heating system had proved satisfactory. In the meantime the family was located in another nearby building.

The personal belongings lost by the Maners family included all their clothing, except for what they were wearing, a sewing machine, television set, cedar chest full of summer clothes, rotisserie, mattress, roll-away bed and other goods.

The Maners family consists of Maners; his wife, Marjorie; William, 13; Lois, 12; and Teresa, 2. The report cards and school transcripts of the two school-age children were also lost.

Next: Fire photos

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 2

It seems strange and intrusive today, but the front page of the Lorain Journal on June 26, 1957 was dominated by the news that a Lorain policeman had purchased Cicco's Tavern. Here's the story as it appeared in the Journal that day.

****
PURCHASED BY POLICEMAN – Here is the former Cicco's Edgewater
Tavern, on W. Lake Rd. about three miles west of Vermilion, which has been
purchased for an estimated $40,000 by Patrolman John F. Kochan of the 
Lorain Police Department. The building is being remodeled.
Lorain Patrolman Buys Tavern in Erie County At Estimated $40,000

Patrolman John F. Kochan, 40, a member of the Lorain Police Department since 1945, has purchased the former Cicco's Edgewater Tavern on W. Lake Rd. in Vermilion Township for an indicated $40,000, according to records in Erie County Courthouse, Sandusky.

Meanwhile, extensive interior and exterior remodeling of the building is taking place, for which Kochan obtained a building permit in Erie County Courthouse on April 1.

Kochan's building permit listed an estimated cost of $4,500 for "new siding, flooring, ceiling and paint."

A warranty deed filed with Erie County Recorder Carl A. Spier last Oct. 9 shows that the lakefront property, located about three miles west of Vermilion was transferred to Kochan from Edith M. Cicco and her husband, Lewis Cicco.

Cicco, a former Lorain policeman, was a member of the Lorain "booze" squad in the late 1920's which cracked down on bootleggers.

A total of $44 in real estate revenue stamps is affixed to the warranty deed, indicating that the property was bought by Kochan for $40,000.

A mortgage deed recorded in the Erie County recorder's office last Oct. 10 shows that Kochan obtained an $18,000 loan on the property from the Citizens Home and Savings Association Co.  of Lorain.

Kochan began making monthly payments of $180 to the lending association last Sept. 27, according to the mortgage deed.

The mortgage deed specifies that the loan be repaid within 10 years at 5 per cent interest.

Asked about the purchase of Edgewater Tavern, Kochan said, "No comment."

A moment later, Kochan declared, "I'm an investor. I'm getting the place in shape so I can sell it."

Kochan, a bachelor, became a city policeman on Oct. 1, 1945, and in this capacity earns $370 a month.

He lives at 3565 Toledo Avenue.

Next: Up in Smoke

Monday, July 18, 2016

Cicco's Tavern Part 1

Vintage postcard postmarked 1941
Here’s a nice vintage postcard of Cicco's Tavern, which was located a few miles west of Vermilion on Route 6.

Lewis Cicco, a former Lorain city policeman, owned and operated the tavern for about 17 years. (I’ll have more on his police career in a later post.)

Before it became Cicco’s Tavern, the facility had been part of a large resort property known in the early 1930s as Shore Inn and later as Roback’s Shore Inn. Shore Inn had offered a variety of amenities, including dinner, dancing, a hotel, cottages and beach facilities.

The Sandusky Register of August 9, 1940 included a small news item from the early days of Cicco’s Tavern.

It read, "Cicco's Tavern, formerly Shore Inn, located on the Cleveland-rd. Route 2, two and one-half miles west of Vermilion, has been completely remodeled and redecorated and is proving to be a very popular place this summer. There is dancing every evening music being supplied by Heath Snyder's orchestra. Louis [sic] Cicco, well-known restaurant man, is proprietor of the Tavern and he is specializing in Italian spaghetti, steaks, chicken dinners and seafoods. There are private dining rooms which are available for parties and other gatherings. Cicco's Tavern is open until 2:30 a. m.

The restaurant's popularity resulted in Lewis Cicco deciding to commercially produce his spaghetti sauce. Here's an article (below) from the Sandusky Register of November 7, 1946.

****
Cicco Plans To Start Factory Next Spring
VERMILION, Nov. 7—As soon as materials are available in the spring, construction is expected to be started on a factory here to house Cicco's Finer Foods. The firm has just been incorporated for $25,000 with Lewis Cicco, Abe Kaplan and Kathryne Owens listed as incorporators. Cicco, manager of a tavern west of here on Lake-rd for a number of years, said the firm is to manufacture spaghetti, Italian sauces and salad dressings.
****
The spaghetti sauce was produced and distributed to grocery stores, according to this ad, (below), which appeared in the Lorain Journal on April 5, 1947.

Carolyn Stringer, whose grandparents were Louis and Edith Cicco, told me via email last year, "Our sauce was on the market for years in Sparkle Market in Vermilion.” It was also available at Mark’s Market on Perkins Avenue in Sandusky as late as March 1957.
Here are some more vintage postcards (below).
Tomorrow, I'll write about how Cicco's Tavern changed hands in the late 1950s in a very high profile transaction.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Anderson Acres Summer Resort Near Huron

I recently saw this postcard for Anderson Acres on Ebay and thought it was pretty interesting, as I'd never heard of it before.

Anderson Acres was a summer resort located on U.S. 6, just two miles east of the Huron city limits and west of Old Woman Creek.

Here's another version of the same postcard.

This one was postmarked September 1947 and provides a nice capsule history of the resort. The back of it reads:

ANDERSON ACRES
Settled in 1839 by James Anderson
Along Lake Erie Shore, 2 miles East of Huron, Ohio.
State Route 2      U.S. Route 6
Phone 6012  Huron, Ohio
40 Cabins – Trailer Space – Campers
Cottages – Rooms – Showers

James Anderson's biography is included in A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio (1916) by Hewson L. Peeke. (Here is a link to it.) At the time the book was published, Anderson's property included 250 acres. His biography noted that it comprised "one of the most beautiful farms to be found anywhere along the shores of Lake Erie. For a distance of 1,800 feet the farm borders on the lake shore, and in that state is found one of the finest bathing beaches in Northern Ohio, bearing the name by which the farm is also known: Lake View."

Anderson Acres was a very popular summer resort, judging by the favorable and nostalgic sentiments about it on the internet. So what does the property look like today?

Beachwood Villas Condominiums (the three tall lakefront buildings in the aerial photo below) were built on part of the former Anderson Acres land in the 1980s. The rest of the Anderson lakefront land – still a trailer park in the 1980s – has since been developed, as well as the former Anderson farm.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Corky’s Restaurant & Motel

Note that the original diner building only had eight windows in front.
Vintage postcards of Corky’s Restaurant and Motel in Huron are pretty easy to find on Ebay. What isn’t so easy is figuring out where Corky's was located.

The postcards and matchbook all list the location as “Homan and Williams” with no real address – and it’s seemingly impossible to find Homan on a map. But research reveals that the business fronted on Cleveland Road West (U.S. Route 6) where it intersects with Williams.

So a traveler entering Huron from the west in the old days would have encountered Corky’s on the right (the south side of the street) shortly before they turned south onto Main Street into the Downtown district. 
Here are two more postcards, showing how the restaurant was enlarged from its days as a diner.
You can see the water tower (also formerly located on Williams Street)
off in the distance in the inset photo of the motel.
I believe that the motel sat just east of the restaurant. (Can any longtime Huron resident confirm this for me?) In fact, it appears that the same parked car, chimney, and tree are visible in both photos above.

Anyway, like many other longtime businesses, Corky’s eventually succumbed to Huron’s controversial urban renewal project. An attempt was made to sell the 5-unit motel and restaurant in the late 1950s, with a FOR SALE ad appearing in the April 20, 1957 Sandusky Register.

Here’s a great photo taken shortly before Corky's demolition, courtesy of the Huron Historical Society and the ohiomemory.org website. The photo’s caption confirmed that it was on the corner of Williams and Cleveland Road.

The demolished houses shown above are on the east side of Williams Street.
Corky’s faced Cleveland Road West.
You can see this photo and many others in the Huron Historical Society’s collection by clicking here.

****
UPDATE (July 19, 2016)
Regular blog contributor and researcher Dennis Thompson managed to locate an 1896 map of Huron with that elusive Homan Street on it (below). Thanks, Dennis!


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Huron Harbor Lighthouse

Although I’ve passed through Huron many times over the years, I 'd never seen the city’s lighthouse until a few weeks ago.

It’s a strange-looking structure as lighthouses go and is said to be in the “art-deco” style. It’s been there since 1936 when it replaced an earlier one.

Here’s another vintage postcard view courtesy of Ebay.

The lantern room at the top of the lighthouse was removed in the early 1970s when a new automated beacon was installed. So it looks a little different now.

Here's what the lighthouse looked like last weekend (below). Note that like Lorain, Huron now has a huge Diked Disposal Facility constructed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers adjacent to its pier.

You can learn much more about all of Huron lighthouses through the years at lighthouse friends.com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Huron's Saloon Town Days

Ohio History Marker located near Huron’s Mile Long Fishing Pier
Here’s an interesting article that ran in the Journal shortly after Huron began demolishing its downtown. The article ran in the paper on December 1, 1969 and is a look back at Huron’s vanishing history. It also has some funny stories about Huron’s wild and woolly days as a saloon town for sailors.

****

Recall Huron History as Demolition Continues
By MARK ALBRIGHT
Staff Writer

HURON – It’s already started. A bulldozer and a crane are ripping away at the core of Huron. Splintered scraps and memories will soon be all that remains of this city’s downtown as the first phase of the city’s $4 million urban renewal project begins.

But for many longtime residents, the history that was downtown Huron will not be forgotten.

Lewis Kuhl is 83 and was mayor before the village was municipalized in 1961. Before that he was a township trustee for 22 years, taking over that position from his father.

He remembers downtown Huron.

“It’s almost the same as long as I can remember with the exception of a few buildings here and there,” he says, pressing a finger askew of his glasses.

“There was a big frame building where the Huron recreation bowling alley is now that was the Masonic Lodge. And I remember that we held village meetings there sometimes.”

ACROSS THE STREET was a row of fishing businesses, twine houses where the gill nets were stored, docks and shanties.

“There was a cannery there to back before the twenties, the Mad River railroad then followed the river south. There was a bridge over the river near the present Fries Lumber building.

“I think it was about 1928 that the Lake Shore Railroad came down South Street and there was an interurban that ran from Sandusky to Ohio Street,” he says recalling a story.

“President McKinley was speaking in Sandusky so we all went up on the interurban. While we were gone, a naval training ship – I think it was the USS Hawk – came into port and at that time there were about 15 bars on Main Street. When we were coming back from Sandusky, the trolley conductor stopped outside of town and said he wasn’t going any further.”

“The sailors had taken over the town and thrown everybody else out including the bartenders. We lived on the other side of town so we went around downtown and when I looked up Main Street al I could see were sailor boys running around all over the street,” Kuhl recalls.

It was a wide open town then. Every other building was a bar.

“The fishermen would come here from Buffalo in the early spring because this part of the lake thawed first. There were about 360 working at the ore docks then. And everybody had their favorite saloon. And they were just saloons. A liquor license only cost about $50 and some brewery would usually grubstake a bar owner to get him started. It got pretty rough around here at times, but when prohibition came most of the bars closed down.”

John Rhinemiller, local historian, wrote of Huron in the 1890’s:

“It has been noted that there were 13 saloons in Huron. It was a rough town. For instance, if you heckled the bartender just a little too much, he simply shot you.”

Once, in 1928, the Coast Guard chased a rum runner up the Huron River but before they got to him the runner dumped his goods overboard in burlap bags. The next morning the story filtered down to the fishermen, who spent much of the next morning dragging the river for the booze.

THEN THERE is the story of Chief Thunderwater and his small tribe that lived out in the Grand Forest Beach area in the late 1860’s.

The chief and his tribe were forced to leave town after a little too much local whiskey started a small-scale Indian uprising.

Town Hall was always the center of the community, though, says Kuhl. “Everything that involved the entire community happened there.”

“There were shows and meetings and it was quite a place in its day.

“To me there is a certain sentiment about the old town and the hotels – (The Aldine which burned down, the Parkland Hotel which is now the Captain’s Inn, and the Shephard House which was in the Dorne Block torn down about two weeks ago.”)

"But you can’t stop progress. The only thing to do is go along. I take with a grain of salt all this talk of saving it – it’s impossible to do anything with.. this town has been dormant for so long and I think they’re just starting to do something about it and get it back on its feet."

Monday, July 11, 2016

Huron’s Main Street – Then & Now Part 2

I drove out to Huron again this weekend to grab a “now” shot of Main Street to go along with one of the vintage postcards I posted on Friday (above).

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that one building did indeed survive the massive demolition of the downtown that began back in late 1969.

In my “now view (below), the Firstmerit Bank office building at 357 Main Street is the same building shown on the vintage postcard.

The building was identified as Firelands Community Bank with the same address in the 1970 Vermilion-Huron City Directory.

An article in the Sunday, April 27, 1975 Lorain Journal about the winding up of Huron’s urban renewal project mentioned that the Firelands Community Bank had added a “drive-in facility.”

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When Huron began demolishing its downtown for its urban renewal project, the Lorain Journal offered its support in an editorial (below) that ran on December 2, 1969. It was probably an attempt to get the citizens of Lorain ready for what was beginning to unfold in their own city.

All Together for Huron

THE BUSINESS section of Huron is beginning to disappear. There’s no magic involved. The disappearing act is being performed by a bulldozer and crane which, as reported in a news article yesterday, “are ripping away at the core of Huron…and memories will soon be all that remains of this city’s downtown.

The demolition is the result of an urban renewal project over which many citizens of Huron are split into opposing camps.

Powerful arguments can be offered for and against urban renewal. This federal experiment in community renovation is cumbersome and costly. This doesn’t mean, however, that Huron will be hurt. It is much more likely that the city will be stirred up to a new era of progress.

As for the downtown section, it will remain more attractive in nostalgic memory than it is in reality.

Huron has not in the past lived up to its potential. Perhaps now it will do so.

These comments are not in defense of urban renewal, as such, nor in opposition to it. Rather, they lead up to a conclusion that if the project has reached the point of no return, then all citizens of Huron should unite to get the best possible results from it for the good of the community.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Huron’s Main Street – Then & Now Part 1

Since yesterday's post was about Wileswood Country Store in Huron, let's linger in that town today as well.

Above is the well-known postcard of Downtown Huron that was coincidentally sold at Wileswood Country Store. It's a reproduction, as you can tell by its caption on the back: "Looking North on Main Street, Huron, Ohio in the late 1950's…in the heart of Lake Erie Vacationland."

For an interesting comparison, here’s a postcard that was recently on Ebay (below). It shows a wider view of the same portion of Main Street at an undetermined later date.

As you can see, the Shoe Box took over the Huron Food Center location at 356 Main Street. A quick look online reveals that the Shoe Box was there as early as 1966, and was still listed in the city directory in 1970 (the only Huron directory available at the Lorain Public Library).

Here’s another vintage postcard of Downtown Huron (below). It shows Main Street from the other direction, looking south from the intersection with Cleveland Road West.

Here’s another vintage postcard of that same view looking south.

Today, Huron’s Main Street has a totally different look and alignment, thanks to urban renewal.

The same portion of Main Street covered in the two vintage photos has a zig zag in the middle of it (below).

Since that aerial photo was taken, Huron in 2015 has connected the the two disjointed segments of Main Street, creating once again a continuous route north of Cleveland Road (which you can read about here).

Next: My “now” Shot