Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Hoy-Lo-Mae Shopping Center

Since I grew up on the West side of Lorain, the east side always seemed a little exotic. My family had no reason to go over there (no relatives to visit, no stores that we shopped at), so that part of Lorain was kind of a mystery to me for many years.

Eventually, around high school days, I began to broaden my knowledge of Lorain by doing a lot of bike riding, and that finally took me over to the East side. I remember a buddy needed something from Wheel and Reel Center, so we rode our bikes over there. I was surprised to see that the store was in a little brick shopping strip right in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

And that’s the subject of today’s post: the Hoy-Lo-Mae Shopping Center, which was located on Garfield Boulevard near its intersection with Missouri Avenue. Above is the ad promoting the new shopping center, which appeared in the Lorain Journal back on June 25, 1951.

As you can see, the main focus of the ad is ‘Bill’ Musselman’s Barber Shop. The ad notes, “For convenience, comfort, service and modern design, “Bill” Musselman’s Barber Shop stands second to none. Completely modern in design and appointments, kept immaculately clean at all times, and operated by one of Lorain’s most widely known barbers, the shop is planned to offer every service men want – in the manner they like best.

The ad also provides a roll call of other businesses in the shopping center at that time, including Artistic Beauty Salon, Gilbert’s Delicatessen, Gilbert’s Food Fair, Johnson’s Hardware Co., and O. A. Hafely, Inc. 

Today the shopping center is long gone. Since 2019, the shopping center’s former location has been home to Lorain’s Fire Station 4.


Be sure to revisit this 2011 blog post, featuring the charming reminisces of well-known local realtor (and all-around nice guy) Bill Latrany, about shopping at Gilbert’s Food Fair with his grandfather.


I’ve written a few times about O. A. Hafely, who built a lot of homes on Lorain's east side, including one I owned on Nebraska Avenue back in the 1990s. This link tells the story behind the Hoy-Lo-Mae name.

When we lived on Nebraska, we used to get great pizzas from Sorrento’s, which was located in the shopping center on Garfield at that time. It was kind of nice, and old-timey, to be able to walk over there and pick it up.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Little Red Caboose in the Back Yard – June 6, 1971

If you spend a lot of time driving around in the country, eventually you’re bound to see some unusual things in the back of some farmyards, repurposed from their original use.
For instance, a few farmers in Northern Ohio bought old Lake Shore Electric interurban cars for use as storage sheds. Lake Shore Electric enthusiasts often know exactly where these are today, having researched who bought the cars when they were all sold in the late 1930s. (That’s an LSE trailer at right in retirement out on Joppa Road in Vermilion Township.)
Occasionally, you see a little red caboose. A landscaper that I hired a few years ago kept one on his property on Harris Road in Sheffield Village for use as an office. As far as I know it’s still there.
And here’s the story of another caboose, and how it ended up in the backyard of a farm out in Milan, outside Norwalk. It’s an interesting story, especially how the Elfers family acquired it, and arranged to have it moved to their property on Milliman Road. The article by Staff Writer Kathy Myers appeared in the Lorain Journal back on June 6, 1971.
As the story notes, Carol Elfers had told a friend that she would love to have a caboose for use as a playhouse for her children, as well as a place to ‘get away from it all.’ As it turned out, her friend had seen an ad in a Cleveland newspaper advertising the sale of several cabooses.
It took some convincing to get Ben Elfers to agree, but in the end, his wife and children got their wish. The family even bought some old track from a quarry in Marblehead to set the caboose on, once the Slessman Brothers were able to transport it to their farm.
It’s an impressive accomplishment. Here’s hoping the family had many years of enjoyment of their unique getaway.
Like me, you’re probably wondering: is the caboose still there?
I did a little online research, and came up with a possible address for the property on Milliman Road. I didn’t see a caboose in the Google Maps aerial view though, so I decided to do a ‘drive by’ in the street view mode.
I went back and forth a few times before I caught a glimpse of the caboose through the trees.

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Little Red Schoolhouse at Stop 86

Little Red Schoolhouses used to dot the countryside in our area, beginning around the 1870s. You can see them all over the vintage maps for Black River and Sheffield Townships.

They were very important to the communities that they served. However, as modern schools were built, these red brick schoolhouses were often abandoned, demolished or used for something else by the 1920s and 30s.

While a few of these schoolhouses had high-profile new uses (such as the one at Meister and Leavitt Road being used by Port Mills Airport as an office), many of them are difficult to research.  

That’s why this article, from the June 30, 1938 Lorain Journal, is somewhat important. It’s a snapshot of what many of the remaining little red schoolhouses were being used for at that time, with the main focus on the one just east of Lake Breeze at Stop 86 in Sheffield Lake.


Lake-rd Red School Starts New Chapter

Ex-Waldorf Tavern to Be Pottery Mart; Building Nears 60th Anniversary


SHEFFIELD LAKE – The “little red school” on the Lake-rd near Stop 86 has started a new chapter in its history. Until recently the Waldorf Tavern, it will become a china and pottery mart.

Many people in Lorain and Sheffield cherish memories of this particular little red school house where they received their early training in the “Three R’s.”

The building was erected in August of 1878 and will soon reach its 60th anniversary.

It formed one unit of the educational system of Sheffield-twp, comprising eight one-room schools.

When Brookside school was completed in 1923, these other buildings were closed and sold to the highest bidders.

Put to Many Uses

One stands on River-rd on property donated by the Burrell family and was recently used as day camp site for Lorain Girl Scouts and known as Trail’s End.

One is Sheffield village hall on Detroit-rd, one is the Sheffield Lake village hall on Lake-rd at Stop 74, and still another was purchased by St. Theresa’s parish to be used as a parochial school. The three other buildings have been razed.

In these eight one-room schools there were [illegible] pupils and the total payroll for the year in the entire system was the huge sum of $1,440.

Among the well-known people who received their early training at the Lake Breeze unit at Stop 86 was the late Leonard Moore, former mayor of Lorain; and members of the Maddock, Ge-Meiner [sic], and Gawn families of Lorain, Stiwald family of Amherst and Mrs. John Eiden of Sheffield.

Numbered on the teaching staff still residing in this county are Mrs. A. P. LaGron and Mrs. Minnie Hurst.


You can see the little red schoolhouse at Stop 86 circled, top right, on this detail from the 1896 Sheffield Township map.

Interestingly, the land on which the school is located is labeled, “L. MOOR,” perhaps explaining why Lorain’s former mayor had a connection with the schoolhouse. (The 1874 map shows the name properly spelled as “L MOORE.”)

I’ve done quite a few posts about little red schoolhouses, including the one on the Burrell farm (here and here), one in LaGrange, the one at Meister and Leavitt Roads, the one in Sheffield Lake that became City Hall for a while, the one on Kolbe Road whose bricks were used to build Joe Ule’s ’storybook house,' and the one in Brownhelm Township at the juncture of Morse and Banks Roads. I also posted an article about Journal reporter Lou Kepler’s Christmas memories of the old red brick schoolhouse she attended.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Sandy’s on E. 42nd St. Grand Opening – June 27, 1968

has been a favorite topic on this blog since the beginning, although it seems that there are very few people who remember the long-gone hamburger chain that had outlets in Lorain and Elyria during the 1960s and early 70s.

It really wasn’t around that long before it was gobbled up by Hardee’s in 1973.

But there was something about Sandy’s that made it special. Was it Miss Sandy, the winsome Scottish lassie mascot, who often appeared in person at the store openings? Was it the Scottish theme, which gave the restaurant a unique ethnic heritage? Or perhaps it was the name ‘Sandy’s’ itself, which gives one the impression of a single owner and personalized service?

Or was it the food? I remember it tasting pretty much like McDonalds, which makes sense since the chain was started by ex-McDonald executives.

Anyway, I covered the Grand Openings of the Elyria Cleveland Street location (1962) here, and the Lorain Meister Road location (1965) here. So in the interest of being complete, here’s the Grand Opening ad for the South Lorain location. It ran in the Lorain Journal back on June 27, 1968.

As you can see, back then a key ingredient in the fast food business was the emphasis on fun. There were eight Sony transistor radios given away, balloons and even free Miss Sandy glasses. There are a few of these glasses on eBay right now; here’s one of them.

Speaking of Miss Sandy, she made a personal appearance at the Grand Opening festivities of the E. 42nd Street location on all three days. The ad even revealed who she was – sort of. Under the words ‘MISS SANDY” are the tiny words: FORMERLY MISS SANDUSKY.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Roger Blough Fire – June 24, 1971

It was fifty years ago today that the Roger Blough, U. S. Steel’s super ore carrier being built at the American Ship Building Co. in Lorain, caught fire. 

As noted in one Journal report, “Temperatures inside the hull reached 2,500 degrees at times while the fire, confined to the ship’s stern, was being battled by scores of firefighters and shipyard workers from about 10 a.m. Thursday until early Friday afternoon.”

“Tired and nearly exhausted firemen and shipyard workers, many of whom had virtually no sleep since the fire started, were on the job until the bodies of the missing crew were located."

Seven men (including three firemen) went to St. Joseph Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. Four shipyard workers lost their lives in the blaze: Clyde Purdue of Vermilion; John Alexander of Lorain; George Adams of Lorain; and Leonard Moore of Elyria.

Here are some of the pages of the Journal covering the tragic fire.

June 24, 1971
June 24, 1971
June 25, 1971
June 25, 1971
June 27, 1971

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Hart’s Jewelry Ad – June 25, 1951

So how did kids keep cool in the summer back in the days when air conditioning wasn’t as prevalent as it is now?

Well, if they were growing up in Lorain, then perhaps a swim down at Lakeview Park or one of the city pools might have been an option. But what if they were too young to go swimming by themselves, and were more or less restricted to the yard where Mom could keep an eye on them?

Then this 50 inch inflatable pool offered by Hart’s (the jeweler whose ads seemed to promote everything but jewelry) would have been just the ticket. The ad ran in the Lorain Journal back on June 25, 1951.

The pool's a good one too, made of genuine Boltaflex, "the plastic with the shine.” 

There’s even a portable metal shower that hooks up to a garden hose, which seems like a pretty good idea. As the ad notes, “Many parents shun public bathing places because of diseases! Put the beach in your backyard!”
All for the price of $11.95 – or $123.73 in today’s dollars, according to one of those online inflation calculators. 
No wonder there was an optional 50 cents down weekly payment option.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Cedar Point Ad – June 27, 1923

Cedar Point is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year, a year late because of the pandemic. So it’s a good time for me to post this ad, which appeared in the Lorain Times-Herald back on Wednesday, June 23, 1923.

According to an online history of Cedar Point, during this time period the park was still mainly promoted as a bathing resort, even though there were a few rides. The Times-Herald ad above certainly reflects this advertising angle, with its illustration of a typical bathing beauty and the claim of “The Finest Bathing Beach in the World.”

It’s funny, but in all the years that my family went to Cedar Point in the 1960s and 1970s, I don’t think we ever went swimming. I guess it’s because we could do that at East Harbor State Park, or Findley State Park, or even at Tamsin Park. (Lakeview Park in Lorain wasn’t in the best shape back then.)

But plenty of other people took advantage of the beautiful sandy beach at Cedar Point, judging from these vintage postcards from eBay. (Dates are from eBay listings and are approximate.)


Monday, June 21, 2021

Lorain Times-Herald Front Page – June 28, 1918

Back in June 1918, World War I still had another five months to go before Germany formally surrendered. 

But that’s not why I’m posting the front page of the Lorain Times-Herald of June 28, 1918. The thing that caught my eye is a little article entitled, “AEROPLANE LANDS HERE.”

As the short report notes, “An aviator was obliged to bring his plane to the ground this afternoon on the farm of William Neuman of Oberlin-rd.

“Great crowds gathered from all parts of the city and score of persons drove to the scene in automobiles. It was not learned what the trouble was that brought the machine to the ground.”

(Longtime readers of this blog might remember that the William Neuman dairy farm, located on the corner of Meister Road and Oberlin Avenue, has been a source of great interest to me. I’m still looking for a 1950s Journal article showing how the old farm house was moved from its spot on Oberlin Avenue to a new location on Meister only a few hundred feet away.)

Elsewhere on the page is the usual Lorain mayhem: a man arrested for attacking his son with a leather strap; a saloon brawl over an argument about a bottle of beer, ending with a man getting clubbed over the head.

There’s also a mention of the upcoming annual excursion of the Lorain shipyard workers to Cedar Point on the steamer City of Erie.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Neil Pinkley 1925 – 2021

It was sad to drive by Your Pit BBQ (or “The Pit” as it was known for many years) a few days ago and see the sign board announcing the passing of Mr. Neil Pinkley.

Mr. and Mrs. Neil Pinkley, along with Mr. and Mrs. Noah Tedford, were the founders of The Pit, opening the iconic Vermilion restaurant back on December 31, 1968.

I interviewed Steve Pinkley in preparation for a four part series on The Pit that I wrote back last year, and he told me how his father Neil got the inspiration for the restaurant.

Steve had explained that his parents were from Memphis, Tennessee. Neil, a Ford worker, transferred here to work at the new Lorain Assembly Plant on Baumhart Road, along with several other workers from that area.
When they got up here, however, they discovered that there were no Southern BBQ restaurants. “You oughta open up a barbecue,” was something that Neil heard many times from his friends.
So Neil Pinkley and his friend, Noah Tedford, decided to do just that.
And there are a lot of people (including me) that are sure glad he did.
My condolences to Steve and the entire Pinkley family.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Huron’s Showboat Grand Opening – June 17, 1971

Fifty years ago, one of the more unusual restaurants on the shores of Lake Erie opened: “Showboat,” located at the foot of the Huron pier. The ad for it above appeared in the Lorain Journal on June 17, 1971.

As noted in an article in the Journal that ran the day before, “The building takes on the shape of an old river boat and to add to the effect, the inside is all of nautical design. There is a great view of Lake Erie and the Huron Harbor from the upstairs dining area. Boat decks are available for those who want to come by water.

“The owners, Jake Claus and Walter Messenburg, plan a grand opening for tomorrow evening with dinners being served from 5 until 11 p. m.”

Here are two nice color postcards of the restaurant (both currently on eBay).

Here is a Showboat “wooden nickel” also currently on eBay.

(I first wrote about Showboat back on this 2016 post.)

Although Showboat eventually closed, it’s still incredible that Mr. Claus and Mr. Messenburg were able to make their restaurant dream a reality, and a successful one at that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Saddle Inn 25th Anniversary – June 17, 1965

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


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.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

State Route 2 West From Baumhart Road Plans – June 1971

Back in June 1971, you couldn’t do this yet:
get on State Route 2 at Baumhart Road and go west

Fifty years ago, westbound State Route 2 out of Lorain ended at Baumhart Road. It’s a funny thought to those of us used to taking it to get to Port Clinton.

But that was about to change, as noted in the article below, which appeared in the Journal on June 18, 1971. 

As the article noted, “Bids will be opened July 20 for a $7.9 million project extending SR2 five miles west from Baumhart Road and creating picnic areas above the Vermilion River.

“This part of SR2 will then become a section of Interstate 90.”

“Still not completed on the western leg is a stretch between SR 60 and SR 61 in Berlin Heights.

“Also not built is a connection to the Jackie Mayer Expressway in Huron from SR 61.”

A close look at the map shows how different the plan was back then, compared to how the highways are designated now.

Both the article and the map indicate that part of State Route 2 was going to be part of I-90. As it turned out, at least in this area, I-90 is one of the designations for the Ohio Turnpike. State Route 2 strikes out on its own west of the Route 57 interchange, staying fairly close to Lake Erie all the way to Toledo.


I’ve posted quite a few articles about State Route 2 construction. It’s of great interest to me because I was very aware of it while it was slowly happening.

This post describes how far along the highway was in 1966 – when it was going to be part of I-90.

This post describes what the plan was in 1967 to close the ‘Vermilion Gap’ of Route 2.

This post shows the progress by 1968.

This post noted how in 1969, highway signs gave the impression that you could take State Route 2 all the way to Toledo, but the highway really ended at Baumhart Rd.

This post noted how the section of Route 2 from Baumhart Road to State Route 61 finally opened in August 1975.

Monday, June 14, 2021

On Area Movie Screens – June 13, 1971

It’s always interesting to see what was playing on area movie screens fifty years ago (back when we still had area movie screens). Unfortunately, the cultural changes that were taking place meant that there was very little for families to choose from on the Journal movie page of June 13, 1971.

Oh, there was still family entertainment, courtesy of Walt Disney Productions. Both Amherst Theatre and Liberty Theatre (in Vermilion) were showing The Barefoot Executive starring Kurt Russell and a chimpanzee. (I wonder if Alan Hopewell saw that one at Boy’s Town?) But the rest of the movies on the page reflected the changing tastes of the moviegoing public. 

Not surprisingly, the local drive-in theaters were showing biker and horror flicks. Bury Me An Angel and Angels Die Hard were at both the Carlisle and the Lorain Drive-ins. Night of Bloody Horror and Night of the Living Dead were at the Tower Drive-in.

It was a mixed bag at the other theaters. Avon Lake Theater went for horror, with Hawkeye Pierce himself (Alan Alda) starring in The Mephisto Waltz. Midway Mall Cinema (it hadn’t been twinned yet) was showing The Andromeda Strain. And Ohio Theater in Downtown Lorain was showing the documentary Woodstock.

Otherwise, the rest of the movies were of the smutty variety. VL Cinema was showing I Am Curious Tahiti and The Golden Box; over at Palace Theater (say it ain’t so) was the X-rated movie Threesome; and lastly, the Tivoli was featuring the popular, X-rated 3-D classic, The Stewardesses.

Now I know why we saw most of our movies at Amherst Theatre.

Hilariously, on the same page as all of the aforementioned films was the ad for the 13th Annual Vacation Movies for kids! The Ohio, the Palace and the Tivoli were the participating theaters showing ten P.T.A. - P.T.U. approved movies. (I wrote about these summer movies back here, featuring some of my older brother Ken's funny memories.)


On that same newspaper page is evidence that times have changed in Lorain County since then.

All three of the Pizza Hut locations in Lorain, Vermilion and Sheffield Lake would eventually close, although today Lorain and Vermilion have carry-out only stores. It’s just not the same for me; the best thing about Pizza Hut pizza was being able to go there to eat it.

Similarly, Tudy’s is gone, as well as the Arby’s at Route 57 and Griswold Road.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Avon Lake Power Plant to be Demolished

In one episode of the British comedy/Sci-Fi TV series Red Dwarf (one of my favorite shows), the crew visits a universe identical to our own, but in which time runs backwards. Although this concept is primarily a gimmick to run film backwards for humor, the whole idea is presented as a better alternative to our own universe.

Why? Because in the backwards universe, no one dies. Instead, people start out dead, or at least old, and get younger as time goes on until they eventually become babies and are put back in the womb. No one is murdered in this universe; instead, someone holding a gun sucks the bullets out of a dead body and the person springs back to life. In other words, in the backwards universe, things seem to move in a more positive direction.

So what does this have to do with today’s post? Well, I often think Lorain County is in its own backwards universe.

For decades, farmland, woods and lakefront land gradually disappeared as they were transformed by developers for residential and industrial uses. But in the last ten years or so, the major development has stopped. Instead, things are getting torn down (such as any number of houses, motels, old manufacturing plants, shopping centers, schools, funeral homes, etc.) and replaced by nothing but a grassy, vacant lot. Just like it was before all the development began.

The latest example is the news that the Avon Lake lakefront power plant on Lake Road is going to be shut down and demolished in the next two to three years.

It’s pretty incredible. According to an article in the Chronicle-Telegram, the city of Avon Lake said it is “committed to the site being repurposed for public access and recreational use that contributes to the future of our City and citizens.”

In other words, just like the land was used before the plant was built, when at one time it was the home of Avon Beach Park. (Read all about it on Drew Penfield’s Lake Shore Rail Maps website.)

Who could have ever imagined that this would be possible in our lifetime? I’m happy for Avon Lake.


I’ve written about the Avon Lake plant – and what was there before it – before.

This post shows a 1924 architectural rendering of the proposed plant.

This post dealt with the August 1926 start up of the plant for the first time.

This post presents a newspaper article from August 1926, shortly after the plant opened, in which old times waxed nostalgic about the days when the property was the home of Avon Beach Park dance hall and amusement park.

This post is about the dedication of a 1950 expansion of the plant.

This post shows the plant circa 1957.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Amherst Shopping Mall Proposal – June 11, 1971

Back in the 1950s and 60s, the west side of Lorain enjoyed a major population explosion, resulting in the need for new shopping centers to provide the growing number of residents everything they needed to buy. Westgate Shopping Center and Lorain Plaza Shopping Center soon become regular stops for west side shoppers.

With the new Ohio Route 2 expressway built just south of Lorain in the 1960s, Amherst would experience its own growth spurt and the need for more shopping as well. Thus it’s not surprising that fifty years ago in June 1971, the plans for the new Amherst Shopping Mall were unveiled, to draw shoppers from both cities.

Amherst Shopping Mall? Yes, at that time the developer expressed certainty that the shopping center would be an enclosed mall. It didn’t happen, however, and today the somewhat scaled-down collection of stores is known as Amherst Plaza Shopping Center

There was supposed to be a standalone movie theater there too. Read all about the original proposal in this article, which appeared in the Journal on June 11, 1971.

Here’s a close-up of the map (drawn by Gene Patrick) shown in the 1971 article. Note the inclusion of Dewey Road.

And here’s a present day Google Map of the area. I always knew that the parking lot at Amherst Plaza was huge. I guess it’s because those extra buildings, the theater, etc. were never built, and the L-shaped store arrangement replaced the original mall idea.

As longtime contributor Dennis Thompson noted a few years ago in a comment, the portion of Dewey Road north of the highway (seen on the 1971 map) was renamed Liberty Bell Street.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Growing Up in Kew Gardens

Aerial view of Kew Gardens circa 1952
Do you remember Kew Gardens, the temporary veterans’ housing project located on the east side of Lorain? It was located on the south side of Colorado Avenue, opposite and just to the east of the present day Discount Drug Mart at Missouri Avenue.

Many of the younger readers of this blog probably won’t remember it, since it was erected in 1946 and removed around 1956. But older readers are probably very familiar with it, having known someone who lived there or perhaps having resided there themselves.

Dana Kingsboro remembers it well. She emailed me a few months ago to share her reminisces, as well as some wonderful family photos that capture what it was like to live there.

1950 City Directory Listing
“We lived there when my younger brother was born in July 1947 through the 1951/1952 school year, when we moved back to the post - WWII military housing projects at North Central Drive on the west side of Lorain, so I could start school in kindergarten at Boone School,”  said Dana.

One thing that Dana noted about living there was that her family’s ‘house’ at 707 Kew Gardens was neither a classic rounded quonset hut nor a trailer.

"Those corrugated metal buildings were not like any I've seen on the internet; I've not seen any that look like the ones that were in Kew Gardens when we lived there,” Dana pointed out. "They were rectangular, with a front entrance (screened door) and a small porch. I don't remember much about the inside, except they had two bedrooms and rooms that were very small with no A/C or fans. They did not have telephones and we did not have a TV. Clothes were hung to dry on clotheslines using poles in the yard beside the house.
"When it would rain, the rain on those metal roofs was very loud. During hot summer months, we kept screened windows open and sleeping was difficult because of the heat.”
Here is the selection of photos of 707 Kew Gardens that Dana shared with me. The first photo shows her on her porch, circa 1947.
Here’s another photo circa 1947. It features Dana's paternal grandmother (Mary) Louella Fulton Work Wilson of Washington, PA holding her baby brother Bob Work, Jr. Dana is standing on the porch rail while her mother keeps an eye on things from behind the screen door.
And here’s another cute photo, showing Dana a year later in 1948.
Even though 707 Kew Gardens was a temporary home for Dana and her family, it was still home – and that meant there was yardwork to be done. These two photos show Dana’s father, Robert "Bob" Russell Work, Sr.  and brother, Bob Jr. (“Bobby") working in the yard beside their home in the late 1940s.

Lastly, here’s a photo of Dana and the snowman that her father helped her build, during the winter of 1950.
As Dana mentioned, her family moved out of Kew Gardens in the early 1950s. 
"The buildings disappeared long ago, and the vacant land was used by carnivals (rides & games), a circus, and others,” she said. 
But the camaraderie of living with other veterans and their families in such close proximity to each other, in less than ideal conditions, had one benefit.
"Some neighbors remained friends for years after moving from Kew Gardens,” she noted.