Monday, March 28, 2016

Oberlin Avenue Commercial Strip Pioneers – March 1952

Anyone familiar with Lorain history knows that Meister Road used to be the southern City Limits, and that for decades there was very little out that way except for farmland (including the Neuman dairy farm), some scattered homes, the Airport Tavern and, at the very end of Oberlin Avenue, the Old Stone Villa nightclub.

Well, that all started to change beginning on Thursday, March 6, 1952. That’s the day that Jay’s IGA Foodliner celebrated its Grand Opening at 3270 Oberlin Avenue. It was followed by the Grand Opening of Lezber Floors the following day on March 7, 1952.

Both were built by Steve Navalinsky, who also built Willow Hardware (which opened exactly a year later).

Here’s the full-page Grand Opening ad for Jay’s. As you can see, the small building was originally all by itself.

A year later in March 1953, Jay’s was joined by neighbor Willow Hardware (below).
And in 1955, Jay’s moved into a new and bigger space within the shopping center (which I wrote about here). (This space would later become Willow Hardware’s home.)
By 1961 Jay would leave the shopping center and construct a new store further south on Oberlin Avenue (that would later become a Meyer Goldberg store).
Lezber Floors was owned by Ralph Lezber. It was located at 2311 Oberlin Avenue prior to its move to 3300 Oberlin Avenue.

Here’s its Grand Opening ad, which ran in the Lorain Journal on the eve of its March 7, 1952 opening.

Here’s a 1956 Lorain Telephone book ad, with a nice line art rendering of the building.
And here's a 1957 ad from the phone book with another nice illustration.

By the time of the 1954 City Directory, Lezber Floors and Jay’s had been joined in the listings by Willow Hardware, Willow Tavern (run by Edward Toth), RCA Service at 3330 Oberlin Avenue, and the Knights of Columbus Council at 3350 Oberlin Avenue.
Lezber Floors appeared in the city directories until its listing disappeared beginning in the 1984 edition. Today its distinctive building is the home of DiFrancesco Garage Doors & Openers. (Click here to read about the late Paul DiFrancesco, the man behind the business.)

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