|Beach Park Station circa 1898|
Here’s a nice little history of how the old, abandoned interurban car barns in Avon Lake became the Saddle Inn. The story, celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Inn, was written by Doug Warren
and ran in the Lorain Journal
on June 17, 1965.
Saddle Inn Marks 25th Anniversary
By DOUG WARREN
AVON LAKE – There was a ponderous downfall of rain one Sunday afternoon. It very nearly obscured the bleak looking brick structure more than a hundred yards back from the road. The building, forlorn in its retirement from service, would probably look anything but interesting to less creative eyes, but one car which sloshed through the rain slowed, started up again and finally turned around and came back.
THE INTERESTED eyes in the rain drenched auto belonged to Ethel Frielingsdorf. She was the one who saw the lonely brick building and insisted that her husband William turn around and return for a closer look. What she saw was the Saddle Inn.
Actually the building was known then as the Interurban Car Barns. The area was known as Beach Park. The year was 1939.
The brick building was erected in 1893, and housed its last streetcar in 1938. Interurban service between Cleveland and Toledo ended when the streetcar lost its battle with the auto and the bus. The car barn was abandoned and up for sale.
Mrs. Frielingsdorf saw a new life for the discarded building; a new role. A future, which she and her husband would mold.
The restaurant dream was no lark with the Frielingsdorfs in 1939. They had been in it in Cleveland at 1W. 117th St. and Clifton, called Mother’s Pantry, and had no plans for starting another. That all changed when the creative eye of Mrs. Frielingsdorf caught sight of the car barns. They bought the Avon Lake property and the for sale sign has never been seen since.
A YEAR later the Saddle Inn was opened. Now it’s celebrating its 25th anniversary. The facade has changed dramatically over the years, and its acreage has been populated with a 22 unit shopping center. In addition to the Inn, which has grown from 9 to 30 units, the complex includes a theater, drug store and supermarket.
The Frielingsdorf's had plans drawn up for an 80-acre extension of their empire, which would give Avon Lake the largest shopping center between Cleveland and Lorain, but their plans were altered by fate.
In 1957, a $200,000 fire started in the adjacent theater and crept into the inn to destroy much of the refinements of 17 years. The insurance failed to cover the loss.
A new start was demanded of the Frielingsdorf's and they were worthy of the challenge. The inn was restored and improved upon. Now, again the industrious family is studying plans for extending the shopping center. Frielingsdorf has been approached often during the last months by potential renters and he feels the development of the 80-acre addition is nearing time of fruition. He sees 400,000 square feet of store space going up for business occupancy.
MRS. FRIELINGSDORF’S son, Phil Tanner, and his wife, Audie, are the cordial host and hostess of the restaurant. Phil attributes the family success to his mother’s driving force and her good cooking. Not even a devastating fire could dampen her enthusiasm. With an extended illness slowing her physical pace she remains at the helm from her upstairs apartment. Phil’s step-father, Williams Frielingsdorf, supervises the kitchen every day.
Over the years, William Frielingsdorf has made a hobby of collecting bric-a-brac antiques for the restaurant. There is a 200-year-old replica of the Santa Maria in prominent display over the bar. There are chandeliers imported from Italy. exquisite wrought iron grill work, and even a saber which survived the battle of Bunker Hill.
Frielingsdorf is constantly searching for artifacts to add character to the rooms which have been so much a part of his life over the years.
Mrs. Frielingsdorf came to the United States in 1907 from Poland. When she was 16 she served as court interpreter for the city of New York, having command of nine languages. William was born in Dusseldorf, Germany.
THEY MOVED to Cleveland in 1924 and conducted grocery and delicatessen businesses before venturing into the restaurant world.
The Frielingsdorfs regard the launching of the Saddle Inn as their real beginning, however, because the half of their lives spent in Avon Lake has seemed the most like home.
Recently Phil and Audre Tanner acted as hosts of the inn’s 25th anniversary party and entertained more than 50 long-time friends of the family. Among their guests were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gould, the George Timmermans, the Carl Fjelstadts, Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Scoggin, the Bob Mittendorfs Amon the others.
The Tanners served cocktails, dinner, and afterward, treated their guests to a performance of “The Perfect Setup” the last play of the winter season of the Huntington Touring Players.
|Detail from a 1959 newspaper ad|
Tanner announced that in conjunction with the 25th anniversary celebration, the Inn would begin serving daily European dishes which his mother made famous over the years. Sauerbrten, bratwurst, wienerschnitzel, potato pancakes and German potato salad are some of the items to be featured. Mrs. Frielingsdorf’s secret recipes will be followed in the preparation of the authentic old world dishes.
THE TANNERS, his step-father and mother, all live in upstairs apartments at the Inn. Phil and Audre, married in 1941, have two children. Their son, Tom, 23, is doing post-graduate work at Ohio University. Michael, 8, is at home.
The lives of all the group have centered around the Inn. Phil admits having been dishwasher, waiter, bartender and finally host of the family business. He even met his wife there.
The Saddle Inn has been a temporary residence for celebrities from all over the world. To the Frielingsdorfs and the Tanners, the Saddle Inn and Avon Lake is home. It has been for the last 25 years and their friends hope they will be calling it home after the next 25 years.