Monday, October 3, 2016

Dr. B. W. Donaldson’s Lake Breeze Memories – Part 1

I recently found a great resource at the library that I hadn’t run across before, a book entitled Thoughts on Lorain, Ohio: The Dr. B. W. Donaldson Papers (1951). The book is a collection of Lorain reminisces of B. W. Donaldson, whose father was an executive with the Johnson Steel Company.

Dr. Donaldson devotes a chapter to Lake Breeze, which at one time was the name for a small, lakefront resort area of Sheffield Lake located at the northern terminus of the road with the same name. There was even a hotel, the Lake Breeze House, from the 1870s until the early 1900s.

What was interesting to me was Dr. Donaldson’s firsthand description of the resort area's connection to Lorain’s early steel plant executives.

He wrote, “On the east and by the lake shore of the lake and outside of the city limits was a small place known as Lake Breeze. It was so named because of a road by that name running south in Sheffield township.

“Mr. Max Suppes, General Manager of the Johnson Company, built his summer home there, while retaining his residence on East Bridge Street in Elyria.

“Just east of his cottage was a tract of land with an old hotel, four cottages and a dance hall on the lakeside of the dirt road leading to Cleveland. On the opposite side of the road were an old barn and some neglected fields with overgrown fence rows.

“Mr. D. D. Lewis, a Superintendent of the Johnson Company, purchased this property. Mr. Charles Ely, Mr. Suppes, Mr. Harry Davies, and their families, together with ours and all then living in Elyria, rented this place from Mr. Lewis for the summer months and each took a cottage, while the Lewis family lived in the hotel. Caretakers were hired to furnish the meals in the hotel and to care for the horses and grounds.

“The second year was two Cleveland families with us, the Schaeffers, who owned coal yards in Cleveland, and the Matthew Smiths, a tea merchant and later the head of a chain of stores, the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.

“Also several young men lived in the hotel or in a tent at different times. These included Mr. Fred Waterman, Chief Engineer and later President of National Tube, Mr. Lester Corthell, one of the first Johnson Company engineers, who married Miss Opfer and in time became head of Opfer and Company Dry Goods, and Mr. F. R. Buchanan, also one of the first engineers.”

Next: A mystery solved?

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