Archive for May, 2012

Lorain’s History Mystery- The Wurmser House- a tale of two houses

ED NOTE: Two more of the tornado photos of the Wurmser House have been added-Thank you Dennis Lamont

Earlier this month I went on a rant – a rant about historical significance and the throw away homes of this oldest neighborhood of Lorain

I recounted the pattern of neglect and cover-up ( literally) of Lorain’s pioneer history.

The Wurmser House on West Erie – you remember this house don’t you ?

The house , according to the Ohio Historical Inventory , could be one of Charleston Village’s oldest buildings circa 1840-
Click on to enlarge

They make mention of the fact in their report:

“surrounding residences date much later from the early 20th century”

Infact, in 1924 a tornado came through Lorain and destroyed many homes and the Wurmser house at the address 1348 was apparently one of them. Dan Brady of Brady’s Bunch of Lorain County Nostalgia and Renee Dore(CVSI) and I have puzzled over the tornado photos shown here:

and yet another view of the wrecked Wurmser House here :

amother view

An aerial view showing all that remains is the basement

Something doesn’t add up-

The street today- photo Daniel Brady

This home according to the Ohio Historic Inventory ( the professionals and those who studied the architecture) is much older than its neighborbors – but the pictures don’t lie – this is not the house that was originally on that lot.

So how did this home , according to the Ohio Historic Inventory , which was probably 80 years old by the time of the tornado end up sitting on a lot that had had a much younger home situated there.

If indeed the Ohio Historic Inventory is to be believed and the house is around circa 1840- the only possible explanation is – it was moved there from elsewhere in the neighborhood.
Lorain actually has a “history of moving ” structures, so it isn’t that far-fetched – for instance this house

pictured in the Wickens drawing by 11-year-old George Wickens in 1891

and pictured here in 1872

“History of the First Methodist Church -1856-1956” page 21

Our first parsonage is pictured for you right along side of the little brick church. It was built when the church was built and cost $1,000. It stood on the northwest corner of Washington and W. Main St ( W. Erie) on lot no 110 of the original town plat ……..

The parsonage was a good house for those days but when Rev. J.P. Mills came in 1883 we find in records “The Parsonage underwent repairs, an addition was built, the grounds graded ….. The manse[cleric’s house] was sold when the old church was torn down. A Mr. Robinson , a young real estate dealer of the day, bought the property for $1,650.00 ……….

For many years a Miss Kate Baumgart owned the corner property but quite a few feet of land were taken off when W. Erie was widened. One of the oil companies bought the corner when it became eligible for business and the house was moved north on Washington and west on Fox St. ( 2nd St). If you go down that way you will see it about half way down the block on the north side. ………

For a house that is getting on for 80 years old( 1956) it looks pretty good. The trimming under the eves, fancy wooden braces, still help hold up the style and incidentally the roof….

The house is still there – and now approximately 136 years old- and for sale – faded and forlorn

The trimming under the eaves is still there but half the chimney is missing

(ED NOTE: are you listening Lorain- city of-any grants available, surely if we can get grants to tear them down we can also find ones to save them???

THE FIRST PURPOSE BUILT PARSONAGE FOR THE METHODIST CHURCH 1872 (possibly the first Lorain parsonage – research needed )


I will explore in part two some other “movers and shakers” . It seems Lorain’s forefathers recycled – they valued their buildings and I believe this is a possible explanation with regard to the Wurmser House. It is another of Lorain’s History Mysteries and there is more to be explored with “this old house”.

ED NOTE if anyone has information re the moving of Lorain’s homes through the years please contact me .
to be continued……………………..

May 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm 15 comments

Vidi- Vici – Weeded – Lorain Pride- Settlers’ Watch 2012

They came with their rakes, their shovels, their brooms , their wheelbarrows , brushes , gloves, ladders and laughter .
These members of Century-Link- Lorain Rotary- Lorain Lion’s Club,Kiwanis, Charleston Village Society and Lorain.

It was thirsty work !

The plastic bags filled with weeds and sticks and stones, and some bones were definitely feeling the burn by the end of the morning

A father honors his son’s tribute – Eric Barnes’ Eagle

And Admiral King’s Tribute site gets its gold!

by noon the mulch had been ferried and placed

the plants had been watered and a job well done! Thank you so much to everyone!!

Some photos- Lisa Miller – Ernest Ritchey- Nikki Beres. ( click on photo to enlarge )

Note someone is missing a wheelbarrow- I have it – contact me

May 29, 2012 at 10:29 am 1 comment

Memorial Day USA- 2012

design- Christopher D. Ritchey

The origin of Memorial Day

Many cities in the North and the South claim to be the first to celebrate Memorial Day in 1866 but Congress and President Lyndon Johnson officially declared Waterloo in New York as the ‘birthplace’ of Memorial Day in 1966. It was said that on May 5, 1866, a ceremony was held here to honor local soldiers and sailors who fought in the Civil War, businesses were closed for the day and residents furled flags at half-mast. It was said to be the first formal, community-wide and regular event.

How do you memorialize the American dead in her 237 year old history?

Wikipediia does it by listing all the wars since 1775 to the present day

Grand Total 2,489,335 dead or wounded ……. so for every year of the United States existence approximately 10, 504 young people died or were wounded in her name .

The community of the United States of America honors and memorialized those who have died, lost limbs and continue to serve .

ARLINGTON, Va., May 25, 2012 – More than 1,200 soldiers with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, gathered at Arlington National Cemetery here yesterday to place miniature American flags on each of its gravesites and niches for the annual “Flags In” ritual that’s been performed just before each Memorial Day for 64 years.

Army Pvt. Aaron Johnson places a small American flag in front of a gravesite headstone during the annual “Flags In” event at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 24, 2012. Johnson, assigned to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Army’s “Old Guard,” and his comrades placed flags in front of more than 260,000 gravesite headstones and about 7,300 niches at the cemetery’s columbarium.

The Old Guard, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, is the Army’s ceremonial unit and has honored Americans buried at the cemetery with the Flags In commemoration every year since 1948.

The regiment’s troops placed the flags on nearly 260,000 gravesites and 22,000 niches, in addition to more than 14,000 graves at the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., an Army cemetery for residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Washington

Artwork Christopher D. Ritchey

Freedom Is Not Free– Kelly Strong

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

So as we enjoy the day of freedom on this Memorial Day think of young smiling faces whose hearts were afire with patriotism as they gave all they could give!

May 27, 2012 at 10:49 am 1 comment

Lorain a history mystery- Deja Vu again?

I have decided to reprise at least “part four” of Do You Deja Vu written 6 years ago 2006 on the old WoM Blog ( now a history mystery of its own- gone and partially forgotten with records of those times on WoM deleted…. well it seems to be a Lorain thing. The reason I am reprising this piece we have Lorain History Mystery to try and solve next week. I thought this might help segue and get the little grey cells working!

Do You Deja Vu – Four

Was this old town “born under an unlucky star” as stated by Mr. Meyer or was she just unlucky with the motives of men?

Lorain over the years has tried to bury its past; they certainly haven’t celebrated their historical heritage. Infact they have always, it seems to me at least, looked for the next “grass is greener” project.

ED NOTE: Remember readers this was 6 years ago hmmmmmm around the block again 🙂

I have never been able to understand the fact , for the most part, the wonderful stories (and there are some believe me) were not celebrated.
Lorain’s citizens should pay homage to the small intrepid band “The Black River Historical Society“. The BRHS celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2006. The resources they offer to this city are invaluable and more importantly they have kept a part of her alive.
public square
We know that in what Mr. Meyer stated in his speech before the Lorain Real Estate Board in 1926 the
“plat of a village at the mouth of the Black River… containing 263 standard 1/4 acre lots, proportioned 66×165 wherever practicable. With it went The Public Square, (now known as Washington Park).
The one-acre cemetery plot between the present 6th and 7th streets west of Washinton-av, with the following restrictions: To remain forever a public burying ground and to be under the control of the Town Council of the Town of Charleston”

I found it incredulous in 2006 ,just a year ago ,the little park mentioned in his speech and on Lorain’s birth certificate was deemed by an editor{John Cole- Morning Journal }, developer(John Veard}, head of Community Development {Sandy Prudoff} and a Mayoral administration {Mayor Craig Foltin} as being worthless and only good for a condo complex. As I fought the fight to keep the 200-year-old green space from becoming just another housing site my little voice kept saying
“Why are you bothering this isn’t even YOUR history?
But the response kept coming back
No, but it is YOUR HOME !!!
This city started with a man (Nathan Perry) setting up a trading post and cabin. Why was the little cemetery on 6th and 7th allowed to deteriorate when it was deemed so important to the “birthing” of a village? Why were not the souls that were a part of that history, who gave to this settlement, who died -not given the respect due to them in death?

What happened to those that grieved the loss of their child, husband, wife or mother- why did they not rant and rail against the slow destruction of sacred ground? Did they move on to better climes? The population numbers certainly tell a woeful tale. 1840-668- four years later a mere 250 remained- 1850-659, 1870-858 but a year later 1871 -400 (stats History of Lorain, Ohio Chronology)

The answer may lay in man’s greed.

Part three of this series covered the Ohio Railroad Scheme which brought disaster to Charleston, Village/town – so much so those involved and effected by the scheme wished to wipe the place off the map and lose her name forever.

The cemetery deemed to
“remain forever a burying ground and under the control of town council”
seemingly suffered the neglect due to that ill-fated scheme of men.
“Inasmuch as Charleston “died aborning” and no such council ever existed, by whom were the affairs of the cemetery administered in the following 36 years, until the Village of Lorain was incorporated
. – J.J. Meyer

ED NOTE: The following is from Part three of the series and the failed railroad scheme

In 1815 you could buy an acre (including lake front) for $3.25 per acre but just 20 years later due to land speculation regarding the coming railroad, was going for $1,000.00 an acre.The Elyria Republican (N.B. Gates) states that in 1836 State Engineer Dodge came in from Coshocton “As the engineers came down real estate went up …. All the Black River clerical force was again employed writing land contracts…. We all dabbled in city lots more or less, and nearly everybody in Black River and a good many in Elyria got rich – on paper- in a very short time. H.C Stevens claimed to be worth half a million- in fact we were all rich”
and then the bottom fell out
The Ohio Railroad scheme resulted in total failure for this community. Such was the shame attached to such speculation that the people wished to revert back to the name of Black River and to thereby blot from record and memory the event.
Major Hammond wrote in the Black River Commercial “It (Charleston) died without a struggle. It’s hotels were practically closed, it’s merchants departed, it’s warehouse were almost given away to farmers for barns and fences, and even it’s corporate organization was abandoned; it’s name blotted out by common consent, and it’s memory placed in the category of western paper city failures

END OF NOTE- back to the cemetery:

Apparently, the Village (what was left of it) entered into an agreement with North Amherst which permitted the joint use of their cemetery. That probably explains why Conrad Reid and his wife Elizabeth and Quartus and Abigail Gilmore of the recording fame of the village plat (1834-37), among other Village notables are interred in Amherst.

It didn’t take too long for folk to forget this little area of eternal rest.
In the Lorain Daily News of 1900 “Want Crossing Through Cemetery”

The acceptance of the new Krantz allotment was refused for the second time by the Board of Public Service…
the privilege to Krantz to cross the corner of the cemetery was denied because the property was given for a cemetery purpose only.

Once again “development” must have won out because a mere 10 years later ”Unearth Coffin while digging a water main -Strange find made by workmen excavating on 7th Street”
“the discovery of a coffin at this point is easily explained. Prior to the 60’s the city cemetery was located in what is now known as the Krantz addition to the city”…. The bones were placed in a box and will be transferred to Elmwood cemetery.

And so Lorain lost for many years the stories of those folk who were once loved and a part of the community. Were they buried deep so possibly they did not remind people of the shame that was the greed of the community and the Ohio Railroad Scheme?

Could the actions of those involved in the scheme of a century and a half before be revisited in the 21st century – the little park deemed worthless by the “power of four” and a little cemetery almost lost forever? Men, who once again determined that a ”short term profit” better served a community and was worth more than the 200-year-old green space that had been the birthplace, gathering place and served it’s citizens well.

Could it be they too had “no ownership” in history of this area and followed through with the thinking of ”gone AND forgotten”? After all precedent had been set by elders of a community just a few generations previously.

Thankfully, this time around The Black River Historical Society, Lorain City Council and citizens did not want history buried and found to be “not worth remembering”; they rallied around the little park and gave her her due.

Diane Wargo Medina has wrenched from oblivion a little cemetery on 6th and 7th and those, who hopefully lay at rest, have found a friend who recognized and fought for their worth.

You can find photos of the 2007 celebration here

Celebration of the ” green space” 2007

May 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm 8 comments

Lest We Forget- Christian Temple Disciples of Christ 5th Street Remembers

The congregation of Lorain Christian Temple Disciples of Christ, 940 West Fifth Street, Lorain, Ohio will be placing flags on its side lawn to honor and remember all who have lost their lives in the present conflicts.

The project began in 2002 with 500 flags. This year, over 6, 500 flags will be placed by church members and volunteers from community groups in honor of those who have been killed. The church will begin placing flags at 9:00 a.m. on Friday May 25, 2012. Anyone who would like to help place flags, please contact the church office at 244-5883.
According to Dr. Donahue, the senior pastor of the church:

“ This display is call to prayer and remembrance. Each flag represents a life given and future- potential lost. As we yearly gaze on this field of flags, we are reminded of the price that is paid for and the high cost of our freedoms. It is a humbling and sobering experience.

Christian Temple Disciples of Christ is a Veteran’s Friendly Church where veterans and their families can feel welcome as they worship with many other veterans including Dr. Donahue who is a retired Army Reserve Chaplain.
The community is invited to visit the display which will be up until Tuesday May 29, 2012.
ED NOTE: I spoke to Reverend Donahue this afternoon and help is still needed to help place and gather the flags. Donations are also welcome .

Contact: Rev. Dr. Brad Donahue, Ph: 440-244-5883

May 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

Is “Futility” the real F word? or “too many times around the block”

Lately , I have been delving back in the past of my “life in Lorain” as a volunteer.

It all started with the bus breaking down. True, my husband, fresh out of the US Airforce was heading to Cleveland from Sandusky for an interview and the bus broke down. Not one to waste time , at least then, he pulled out the yellow pages found Lorain Products, Ben Norton and a job.

That is how we arrived here , it was quite a shock from London to Lorain- but I followed my father’s advice to get involved and meet people.

I did , I jumped in and I was involved- boy was I involved- not having a career, being young and no children at the time I was the “perfect volunteer”. I have at one time or another been involved in the beginnings of a great many things and organizations in this city and with that comes the “back story knowledge”.Some of the back stories are great and some ??? well a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

I know the players, the movers and shakers, the way things were supposed to work and if they did work. I know the good the bad and the ugly. I admit to getting territorial when I see how good things have gone bad and how some have been manipulated so they no longer reflect the original intent.

I think I have been around this particular block too many times, in most cases I am disheartened by what has happened and how with each administration or group of “idea ” people revisit as “new” a way forward – I can no longer get excited- I haven’t seen anything new that I haven’t seen before just reinventing the wheel. I watch the latest ‘dog and pony show” hype and wonder will it be any different this time. I am sort of still young enough that I shouldn’t be so jaded but……..

I have tried to bring the “information” to those that have jumped on the “latest” bandwagon the “history ” or “been there done that” scenario- to give them a bit of a “leg up” so they don’t regurgitate that which has been done before or make the same mistakes . I have realized it isn’t wanted. People/organizations want to make their own mark or mistakes, as it should be I suppose.

I believe, over the years, I have been involved too much in Lorain , experienced too much, know too much and have become too cynical in my views to do much anymore but wait and watch.

I think I have become even more annoying-( I can almost see the eyes roll and the oh! not her again as they read my latest emails 🙂 – turning into a ‘old curmudgeon “ myself. You know the one, the one that gets up at council meetings and spouts off, writes letters to the newspaper “back in my day”- expounding upon their frustrations – At least I know now how they got there.

I keep hearing

oh we must look to the future

all well and good but when the future is tomorrow and the yesterdays and waiting have become the “past”- there are those of us who would like the “here and NOW!!! You see of the 25,000 days allotted to most of us we are fast approaching our “sell by date”!

So forgive the impatience- of the old curmudgeon – the block is deteriorating fast……

Source BBC- Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave

The old curmudgeon walks through town

Wearing a scowl or often a frown

Everyone stays away from him

The poor curmudgeon without a grin

They wonder what has made him mad

Why he’s so blue, why he’s so sad

But no one tries to find out why

They cross the street, won’t look him in the eye

If they’d only ask

Then they would know

Why his eyes are sad

Why his face hangs low

But no one will

And it’s so sad

For perhaps a simple kindness

Would make him glad

Day by day, the curmudgeon goes

And day by day, no one knows

And day by day, no one asks or tires

They just look away from the tears in his eyes.

May 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm 28 comments

Lorain Dude(s)- Lorain Pride- Settlers’ Watch 2012

The “two Lorain Dudes” request your presence at Settlers’ Watch 9:00 am 2nd and Oberlin Saturday May 19th -2012 – bring your gloves and tools and water bottles-

I have been very busy- I have learned how to take off storm windows

Preparing for the clean up and Pride Day in Lorain

I have done this clean- up on Pride Day all of my life!

May 21st 2011

Time to show your pride again 2012- May 19th

Of course the “other Lorain Dude” is just chillin’ this year!

Come on over to Settlers’ Watch – see the under construction Eric Barnes’-Heroes Walk and have a look at the Admiral King Tribute site- I hear the will be roses! Call 440-246-6046 for more information

May 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm 5 comments

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