Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Admiral King's Birthplace

Here's a picture of the cottage on Hamilton Street in Lorain in which Admiral Ernest J. King was born on November 23, 1878. (The picture is from the book Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record by Ernest J. King and Walter Muir Whitehill, published in 1952.)

This cottage later became a topic of discussion, and was mentioned in the following Lorain Journal editorial that was published on September 21, 1966.


A Plan Worthy of Admiral King


That was the question of one listener during a group discussion of a recent suggestion that the house in which Admiral King was born in Lorain should be moved to Elyria and there enshrined. That idea was broached by Mayor Leonard Reichlin of Elyria.

Councilman Alex Olejko of Lorain added to the frivolity by stating that Lorain would be happy to turn that old house, and others, over to Elyria, including the Lorain City Hall building, which is itself an ancient residence.

It's all in the spirit of good clean fun. But there is a serious note which is brought to the surface when a citizen innocently asks: "Who was Admiral King?"

Not enough has been done to preserve and to honor the name of this great naval leader who stood shoulder to shoulder with General Eisenhower in mapping and executing the military design of World War II. A local high school bears his name, it is true. But the recognition should be more widespread.

Some 12 years ago, the Ohio Legislature adopted a resolution proposing that the Ohio Turnpike be named Admiral King Highway. The Turnpike Commission turned down the proposal on the grounds that "Ohio Turnpike" was already established as a name.

That objection would not apply to the new Route 90 which eventually will be a busy expressway running across the state from east to west and beyond. How about the proud name, Admiral King Highway, for this route – with a small state park along the route in Lorain County containing a monument and a museum devoted to the Admiral.

For those who are indulging in banter over an insignificant old frame dwelling, here is a project whose accomplishment would be worthy of the effort.

People everywhere would hear the name "Admiral King Highway" and be reminded of the great man.


Fast forward to 2010. It's too bad that in 1966 the Lorain Journal considered Admiral King's birthplace to be "an insignificant old frame dwelling," and that then-Councilman (and later Mayor) Olejko was only too happy to offer it to Elyria. It sure would have been nice for King's birthplace to have been purchased back then and converted into a museum. The state park, monument and renaming of I-90 to honor Admiral King never happened, and now even the high school will very likely lose the Admiral King name, ironically with the newspaper's blessing.

Oh, the street running in front of the new school will probably be named "Admiral King Way," but it is a small gesture compared to the grand plan that the Journal envisioned back in 1966 to honor Lorain's greatest hometown hero.

Anyway, here's another view of the King birthplace, from a 1959 Lorain Journal article. And below it, a view of the cottage today.


Anonymous said...

At least the home is still standing. How many other historic structures have been lost to developers over the years?

Dan Brady said...

It is pretty amazing that the house is still there and still in good shape despite its age. I feel a little guilty posting a picture of it without asking the current owner, but the house is an important piece of Lorain history. As for developers, I kind of remember reading on the Word of Mouth website a few years ago that the area had been declared blighted and ripe for a developer; I hope that's not the case.