Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gore Orphanage Part 6

The Swift mansion sat vacant and abandoned a few years after the Light and Hope Orphanage closed. It was an accident waiting to happen. And it sure did – thus contributing to the creation of one of the most famous legends of Northeast Ohio.
The headline of the December 7, 1923 Lorain Times Herald said it all: "HAUNTED" HOUSE DESTROYED BY FIRE. A subhead read: MYSTERY BLAZE LEVELS FAMOUS SWIFT MANSION
Apparently the Swift mansion had already developed a spooky reputation by the early 1920's. According to the newspaper account, "the old historic home, a landmark for nearly a century, is known to practically everyone for miles around. Unoccupied for many years, it has stood alone in the picturesque little valley four miles south of Vermilion and was familiarly called the "haunted house of Swift's Hollow."
The article also noted that "thousands of people have visited the "haunted" house since it was vacated years ago, and the walls of the interior were badly marked with the names and addresses of visitors not only from this locality but from distant parts of the country."
The newspaper account also explained that "the place had fallen prey to destructive persons who broke the windows, marred the woodwork and otherwise damaged it. It was a haven for tramps who sometimes spent the night within the shelter of its walls."
It was a sad end for Joseph Swift's beloved Rosedale.
It took decades for the story of the mysterious fire that leveled the Swift mansion to evolve into the legend of Gore Orphanage. But how did the 'Gore Orphanage' name get attached to the story anyway? The answer: the Gore Orphanage street signs.
You see, in this case the word 'gore' doesn't refer to bloodshed and violence. It has another, more obscure meaning: a triangular shape of land. When the road was originally laid out, it followed the boundary lines of Lorain and Erie Counties. When a surveyor's error was discovered, the wedge-shaped 'gore' was added to the map to correct it. Apparently the road was originally referred to as Gore Road; later, when the Light and Hope Orphanage became the dominant landmark on the road, the word 'orphanage' was added.
So there you have it: the story behind the Gore Orphanage legend. But wait– what does the site of the Swift mansion look like today? Well - stop in here tomorrow!

1 comment:

Ken said...

"Gore" also has another even more obscure meaning as far as surveying: they are little pieces of land "accidentally" left off of maps that the surveyor, surprisingly, wound up owning!