Monday, May 8, 2017

Colonel Henry Brown’s House – Part 6

The Emmerich family did not linger very long in their house after the Ford plant opened; they had moved out by the fall of 1958 (according to the Lorain phone book). The Baumhart relatives living next door (closer to Baumhart Road) hung in there a little longer, but they too were out of their house by 1960.

HistoricAerials.com reveals that the two houses managed to survive until at least 1969.

The disappearance of their addresses in the 1970 Lorain City Directory pretty much proves that no one was living there then. However, the 1972 Dickman Criss-Cross Directory contained one last listing of the 8360 West Erie Avenue address, with the letters “XXXX” next to it.

At some point in the 1970s, Ford acquired the properties north of the highway containing the two houses. Perhaps it was part of the Lorain plant’s much-publicized expansion in the early 1970s.

Anyway, a 1971 topographic map on HistoricAerials.com shows that the two houses are no longer depicted on the map.


An aerial photo of the plant from an undated Ford advertisement (found in the Lorain Public Library archives) shows the land containing the two houses cleared, with many tracks left by earth movers, but with the ramp and highway overpass across West Erie Avenue not yet constructed.

This undated photograph of the overpass (courtesy of the Lorain Historical Society) shows the land under the houses still showing signs of their demolition.

Here’s a more recent Bing Maps view (below).

Unfortunately, like famous celebrities who pass away in obscurity, decades after their greatest fame, the Colonel Henry Brown house was apparently demolished without fanfare. A house that had warranted several fascinating newspaper articles in the 1940s and 50s had simply outlasted the people who called it home, as well as the local newspaper reporters that knew its historic significance.

Today, there’s not much for motorists to see at the intersection of U. S. Route 6 and Baumhart Road. If they look towards the lake, they see only a weedy, fenced-in area with an unused overpass leading to a shuttered auto plant.

But 200 years ago, for a group of hardy settlers from Massachusetts, it was the perfect location for a fine home, and the birth of Brownhelm Township.

7 comments:

Mark said...

One of your best series... thanks, Dan!

Dan Brady said...

Glad you liked it, Mark! I wish it was more complete. As time goes on, perhaps some information will surface via comments/more research and I can update these posts.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Terrific series! I grew up in the area, but by then the plant was all that was there. It's nice to get the history of the area BF (before Ford). Thank you for the work you do on your blog to keep the history alive.
Dave Beko

Dan Brady said...

Thanks, Dave!

Daniel Baumhardt said...

Thanks for sharing this. As a Baumhardt this means a lot. The big house (as my father called it) had a tunnel from the dry cellar to the lake and was used by the underground railroad. Might make for another great story. Thanks again!

Col. Matt Nahorn said...

Thanks Dan, for covering this important yet often little-covered early Homestead of Brownhelm. The Brown-Baumhardt Homestead is one that is often overlooked, but it is an integral part of the founding and early history of this area. Your story here is pretty much the most complete I've seen yet -- nice work!

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the nice comments, everybody. Glad you liked the series, Matt, we're lucky that the Journal staff cared enough about the house to write those articles so long ago (and that I was able to find them). I'll bet there are more articles out there too!