Thursday, January 26, 2017

Five Small Lorain County Communities – January 1967 – Part 1

I don’t do too much on this blog about the southern part of Lorain County, even though it’s an area that I enjoy for its rural charm. To remedy that neglect, here’s a great article that ran in the Journal on January 2, 1967. It profiles five small communities – Pittsfield, Rochester, Brighton, Huntington and Penfield – and their various “lifelines.” It’s a nice snapshot of what they were like fifty years ago.

The article is kinda long, so I’m going to bust my transcribing of it into two parts.

Where Sights, Sounds Still Savored
Life of 5 Area Communities Explored
Staff Writer

A ‘lifeline’ to the outside world can be a real necessity to a small community.

This lifeline can be a grocery store, church, school, post office, business – anything which gives people a chance to get together and communicate.

THERE ARE five such communities within an eight mile radius of Wellington, and with the exception of Rochester, eight miles to the southwest, the smaller communities are exactly five miles away:

Penfield, east on SR 18
Brighton, west on SR 18
Pittsfield, north on SR 58
Huntington, south on SR 58.

Wellington itself is only a village, yet it is large compared to the nearby hamlets. Standing in the business square of this village of 3,600, and looking to these smaller communities, is much like being a weathervane in a whipping and variable wind.

All of these communities have several lifelines.

PITTSFIELD has the fewest, being presently limited to a church. The crossroads village has mushroomed with new buildings since the 1965 tornado, but replacements of a town hall and grocery store are needed to complete the pre-tornado picture.

Plans are on file for the town hall and one bid received, but actual construction awaits forthcoming federal funds which will be paid in under the tornado aid plan.

Nearby Rochester is the largest of the communities surrounding Wellington yet it has the least lifelines to the outside world.

It has scarcely any business district, no school and no grocery store. Its main outlet, the post office, is being closed down by the postal department.

However, it does boast a mayor and council who meet once a month to iron out problems that concern the community.

THE VILLAGE is located on secondary SR 511 and bisected by the New York Central Railroad. On each side of the tracks are grassy plots with the north area designated as Rochester Memorial Park.

Several picnic tables and swings for children make the park a pleasant spot in summer. Over the Fourth of July weekend the park and surrounding area really come to life when the annual homecoming celebration is held.

The business district is practically non-existent, but there is a combination garage - filling station, saw mill and water hauling business run by Wade Knapp.

THE EWELL family operates the Rochester Elevator. On a back street in the old school house, Howard and Ross Eaton have a woodworking shop called the Town and Country Cabinet Shop.

Newest business is to the north of the park. This is a second hand store run by George Ostro. Jack Hodgkin, Rochester’s mayor for many years, has a cement block business immediately to the south of the tracks.

Norman Wolfe, south of the village, has a Christmas tree business and Harry Rowland Jr., out in the country, has a trucking firm.

There is a rumor in Rochester that a grocery store is to be opened in the building which housed the post office. Such a store is greatly needed, say residents, who must now travel to Brighton (five miles); New London (seven miles); Nova (ten miles); or Wellington (eight miles) for a quart of milk or a loaf of bread.

The village has a Methodist and Baptist church with many activities scheduled.

There is a town hall where council and township trustees meet.

TRUSTEES are presently concerned with the condition of the hall which came in for criticism by members of the Rochester Garden Club following their fall flower show.

Rochester also has its own fire department, headed by Paul Harwood, with 4 men on call. The department also has an auxiliary called the Flares.

There is a Boy Scout troop with Mayor Clinker as Scoutmaster and there are two 4 H Clubs.

The village has had a Rod and Reel Gun Club for many years with Postmistress Mrs. Amanda Cariss as the only member.

To the casual passerby, Rochester may seem a sleepy little community.

But looks are deceiving.

To those who live there, Rochester is a beehive of activity.

Brighton fought for one of its lifelines recently by voting down a school bond issue which would have called for demolition of its school, a part of the Wellington school district.

BRIGHTON HAS two churches, providing much of the social life for the crossroads community. A proposed merger of the churches is now being discussed.

Always a busy place is the combination grocery store, filling station and auto repair shop operated by the firm of Hough and Caldwell.

The village also has a welding shop run by Andy Davidson, a beauty shop by Mrs. Gordon Green, a custom draperies business by Mrs. Harvey Funk and a truck and implement shop by Allen Harrison, local farmer. The Brighton Elevator is run by the Ewell family who also have the elevator at Rochester.

It may not be apparent that Brighton is an expanding community, but a look at recent amendments to allow for trailer courts, oil wells, rifle ranges, etc., prove otherwise.

Another center of activity is the town hall, modernized with paneled walls and hardwood floors, where meetings by girl scouts, 4-H Clubs and township trustees, are held.

Next: Part 2 and Huntington and Penfield

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