Monday, December 9, 2019

A. Helfrich Building at 822 Broadway

Recently I received an email inquiring if I had any information on the history of the building at 822 Broadway in Lorain (above), which is currently undergoing some renovations.

It’s always a little tricky to use city directories to research a building, but here is what I believe to be correct.

The ‘A. Helfrich’ name on the building was Anthony Helfrich, who had a furniture and undertaking business. Up until the 1905 city directory, it was located at 700 Broadway (later the location of the Thistle Building, now a vacant lot). Thus the 1906 inscription date makes sense.

There were two addresses associated with the building: 820 and 822 Broadway. The funeral business was at 820 and a variety of businesses used the 822 address until it became the primary address in the 1980s.

The Shiff Brothers and their musical instrument, hardware and pawn broker business were an early tenant at the 822 address, appearing in the 1912 and 1915-16 editions of the directory. Around the time of the 1919-20 directory, the Helfrich Brothers Pool Room took over the 822 address.

In the 1921-22 book, the brothers were now running a cigar shop. Anthony Helfrich continued to run his funeral business at the 820 address.

By the time of the 1924 city directory, Jos. Stark had a dry goods business listed at the 822 Broadway. It wasn’t until the 1929 book that Stone Malt appeared at that address.

July 13, 1934 Ad from
Lorain Shopper News
Throughout the 1930s, the Anthony Helfrich funeral business continued to be listed at 820 Broadway (Helfrich passed away in 1930) and the restaurant known as Stone's Grill was at 822. Indeed, the two companies stayed put during the 1940s as well.

It wasn’t until the 1950 city directory that the business that many of us remember showed up listed at 820-822 Broadway: Rusine’s, run by Michael Rusine. Stone’s Grill apparently moved next door to 816-818 Broadway (the small brick building that is still there today) and kept on appearing in the  city directory right into the 1980s. (I’m not sure when it closed).

According to the city directories, Rusine’s eventually used the 820 part of the building for storage.

It will be interesting to see the next chapter in the history of the newly refurbished 822 Broadway.

Here’s a link to a 2017 Morning Journal article by Richard Payerchin about the building’s deteriorating condition at that time.

UPDATE (December 9, 2019)
Local historian and author Al Doane reached out to me today with some additional information about the Helfrich funeral business when it was located in its namesake building.

Al wrote, "I would like to add what I had found years ago about it. I found this information in a Lorain Daily News article.

"The article stated that the funeral business was conducted on the 4th Floor of the building. I had wondered how they got the body up to the 4th floor. 

But then Al read that one of the problems that the present owners of the building faced is that there is an elevator shaft from the ground floor to the fourth floor. So it all made sense.

"At first when I read the article with funerals on the 4th floor, I could not imagine carrying a body up all those stairs,” noted Al. Hearing about that elevator shaft solved the mystery.

Thanks for sharing your findings, Al!


Anonymous said...

I think about 10 years or so back a guy was up on the roof when it was "Josh's Place".Well this person decided to urinate off the roof and onto a police officer who was on the ground below him.I think the guy was caught and arrested.But this sums up the point of the story....What goes up must come down....I think this building is too far gone to restore.

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Dan, to the best of my knowledge, Rusine's closed in 1986; I spent weekends between the fall of 1988 and the spring of 1989 helping Mr. Rusine's son-in-law, the late Hal Mathew, liquidate the inventory. In the years that Rusine's was in business, it accumulated a wide, eclectic stock, from tobacco to toys, from magazines to marital aids, and the legendary gambling equipment. We also found Mike's payoff ledger, dating from the Thirties.
From the basement to the third floor, the place was a treasure trove.
I wonder what "American Pickers" would have made of it?

Anonymous said...

My grandparents met at Stone's in the early 50's. Grandma was working there and Grandpa was home from Korea after the war. I never knew where the place was located, but I will be sure to drive by next time I'm in Lorain. Thanks Dan.

Dan Brady said...

And thank you for sharing your story!