Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Brownhelm Country Store

A well-known landmark in Brownhelm Township is the Brownhelm Country Store at the corner of Baumhart Road and North Ridge Road.

According to an article written by Gloria Noormaa in the Feb. 2. 1998 edition of The Chronicle-Telegram, a store has been at that corner since pioneer days, when it also housed a post office and barber shop. The article also noted that the current building is the third one at that site.

Bill and Bonnie Cutcher owned and operated the store for years as Cutcher's Brownhelm Store from 1969 to 1999.

Anyway, an article that I found in the Lorain Sunday News of April 6, 1952 (below) tells about a popular well that used to be an important part of the store complex. I'm sorry that the photo accompanying the story reproduced so poorly from microfilm.

Old, Hand-Dug Well in Brownhelm Draws Hundreds Armed With Jugs
By Inquiring Reporter

attracts thousands with jugs. At the pump handle
is 75-year-old Hayes B. Whittlesey while with him
is Ben F. Schaeffer, Brownhelm sportsman and
operator of Schaeffer's service station and grocery
at North Ridge and Baumhard Roads where the
popular well is located.
There are many interesting spots in Lorain-co, but one which aroused our curiosity is a well and one-time watering trough located in front of the Schaffer Fleetwing station and grocery store located at North Ridge and Baumhart in neighboring Brownhelm.

For years, thousands of people, young and old, have stopped at the well located near the highway on the southwest corner of the intersection to pump the clear, soft and cool water into all kinds of containers from small bottles and jugs to five gallon cans and even small barrels.

We asked the proprietor of Schaeffer's store, Ben W. Schaeffer, who is a widely known sportsman, about the history of the well and he referred us to Hayes B. Whittlesey, who is 75 years young and is a native of Brownhelm.

Whittlesey, who is still farming about 100 acres of land not too far from the popular well, said, "The well was there as long as I can remember and it seems that no one really knows when it was dug and put into use."

Whittlesey said that the stone watering trough in front of the well was from the South Amherst stone quarry.

Schaeffer, who believes there is no place like Brownhelm to live in, estimates that an average of 100 to 200 gallons is pumped daily from the well – the pump being given extra heavy usage during the summer months.

Not far from the well is the former home of Brownhelm's contribution to professional baseball – Burt Schotton – former manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Schotton was born in the village.

A number of people claim they feel better by using the water from the old well for drinking and cooking and that was the main reason why so many pump water to carry to their homes.

It is known that some of the people who obtain their drinking water at Schaeffer's well come from many miles away.

Whittlesey said the real story behind how the well came to be may never be fully explained.

Incidentally, Whittlesy lives in a farmhouse on Cooper-Foster Park Road in which he was born on July 29, 1876.

The house is said to be more than 100 years old. And there are houses even older in the Brownhelm – Brownhelm Station area which has an interesting historical background.

Schaeffer, who enjoys hearing stories about the old days in Brownhelm, has been the backer of the 1951-52 Lorain Recreation League Class B basketball champions for the past four seasons.

I stopped in at the Brownhelm Country Store this past Saturday to see if the pump was still in operation. (Don't ask me why I wonder about these things!)

The gentleman behind the counter had never heard of it, but after reading the article, he suggested that the pump was probably right out in front of the store in the grassy area near where their current sign is.

I looked around and saw where a few pipes had been capped. Whether they were related to the popular pump or were just some sign poles of years past, I'm not sure.

UPDATE (July 7, 2016)
Here's a photo of the nice new sign. I like it, it really fits in well with the store's heritage.


-Alan D Hopewell said...

When my friends and I used to camp in the Bacon Woods, we'd always stop here for supplies.

crowryche said...

I think the picture shows the base for the old sign that was out front when Bill and Bonnie had the gas pumps. Us locals used to, well, actually still do, refer to the store as the Brownhelm Mall. I stopped in this summer on my way to Mill Hollow. My, how the inside has changed! There used to be a large, walk-in cooler in the middle of the store. They kept the beer in it. There also was an ice cream stand on the property back in the 70's. I don't recall it being in operation for very long. They took down the building in the late 90's, I think.

Dan Brady said...

Thanks for the information about the sign base. There was at least one other old, old pipe sticking up in the same general area. I guess I was hoping that it would be easy to find the location of the pump! Maybe the Cutchers will see this and weigh in on it!