The Rant – Pride in Lorain- How about her Historical Worth?

May 14, 2012 at 7:33 pm 16 comments

I was deep in thought this morning, as I was literally climbing all over the “Ship’s Captain”- at Settlers” Watch, getting ready for Pride Day- Saturday May 19th – 9:00 am. . The Ship’s Captain really does have a lovely old face and I was reminded of his worth as people stopped on Saturday and Sunday to have their photo taken with him and asked about the project.

He signifies, to those of us who still take “pride” in this old neighborhood, Lorain’s Maritime history. For those of you born and bred here – this is your history- it is fading fast. I wrote a few weeks ago about Lorain’s forgotten maritime history
how Lorain is missing out on a whole segment of a “tourist destination”.

Oh! dear falling on deaf ears once again– the Captain Wilford House still is up for sale, yet another rental. Just look at the for sale sign information .
I frankly think Lorain and all previous administrations and councils should hang their heads in collective shame. You haven’t got much time to decide whether or not Lorain’s history can help her present – it is going- going going ………..with just a few souls clinging on for dear life to her heritage in this city. The Black River Historical Society who fights for every crumb.It might not be so urgent if these homes had been maintained – One thing feeds another-

The Captain Wilford House– the Captain Gilmore House are not alone there are still a number of homes that have “tales to tell” The Wurmser House for instance you probably pass this house everyday – those of you that drive along West Erie – the home of a renowned architect

Henry Oswald Wurmser

1348 West Erie Ave. ( and this picture is from a couple of years ago the deterioration has set in to an even greater extent)

was a respected architect in Lorain and renowned throughout the state. He was responsible for designing many churches, businesses and residences. This may be one of the oldest houses in the Charleston Village survey area ( source Ohio Historic Inventory)

There is a lot of “buzz” re reclaiming Broadway and that is wonderful
Reclaiming Downtown Lorain Event – June 16th

The target area is Broadway from West 21st Street to West Erie Avenue. Work includes cleaning, landscaping, and painting of buildings. We need your help! This is a great project which promotes goodwill and community pride. Several groups have agreed to adopt a building for a much needed facelift!

Let us look at Broadway and at just a couple of the buildings attributed to Architect Wurmser – recognize them?

600 Broadway- 1901 The Dollar Savings Company

710-714 Broadway The Verbeck Theatre then
and now

and lo and behold Findlay has one of his homes on the US National Historic Register the Charles Bigelow House, – apparently Findlay thinks his work should be preserved- not his home here is Lorain these many years- confess it you just thought it another eyesore .

The house is for sale and has been it is located 1348-1348B West Erie Avenue- The house is in a bad state – how does Lorain justify trashing her history?

We, in Lorain under the auspices of Community Development applauded the Ohio Historical Society the Ohio Historic Inventory for this area. 1993 !!!!! and not a blessed thing has been done to preserve these homes of historical significance. Torn a couple down though.

ED Note – I did call Community Development this afternoon and no they had no record of anyone looking at the Wilford House situation and possibility of purchase- why would they?

So as I climbed all over the Captain this morning to preserve him… hanging on with one hand ( just like the historical societies) – stabilizing him with wood filler and stain so he will last a few more years, almost breaking my neck to do so – I got angry ( the anger that keeps me upright) –

Lorain needs to be stabilized Lorain needs her heroes, Lorain needs to look at the Ohio Historic Inventory and Lorain needs to get their finger out- before you have nothing left! Lorain has a worthwhile story to tell – so damn well start telling it, appreciating it and preserving it. It isn’t my history it is YOURS-
those of you who run this city- WHO LEGISLATE- ADMINISTRATE AND ENFORCE THE CODES??? look for the appropriate grants -purchase these homes which have such significance and try to promote her history ……. Do YOU KNOW YOUR HISTORY – I know mine and I will tell you there is money and appreciation to made from Lorain’s past !

I will now get off my soap box because I got to vent- I got to put it down in cyberspace and will not hold my breath to see if anything ever comes of my latest vent – after all I have been venting about deteriorating Lorain for years and what has happened ? Nothing much…..just more of the same old same old
The Vorweck House

When Living Memory becomes History

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Brit take, Charleston Village, city of lorain, commentary, history. Tags: , , , , , .

Mother’s Day- 2012- Gifts and Ghosts = a fishy story Historic Home Tour – Lorain Style?- Wurmser -Ohio Historic Inventory

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brian  |  May 14, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    Lorain has had many historys, the current history clogs out older memories quicker than flies on shit. When a large majority of the folks that reside in our city cannot drive down their streets without their dentures falling out from the horrible roads to a school system that has earased their history in the name of preventing students from open enrolling in other schools, I believe that most folks are more concerned with tomorrow than yesteryear.

    We could go back to when the indians settled in Lorain but I don’t think there are many of them left to really care. Lorain says that it is an international city, but how many of the ethnic clubs are left to carry on the traditions? Not many.

    We were at one time in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most churches per capita, mostly ethnic, but they too are closing. How about all of the ethnic places to eat that are now shuttered, replaced by Taco Bell and the Olive Garden in Elyria?

    I believe that the history that you cherish has been earased as the folks that made that history have left Lorain to other communities where their value and importance are appreciated.

    I feel that most of the history has been pushed out the door, the remaining question is who will be the last person here to turn off the lights?

  • 2. Renee Dore  |  May 15, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I just returned from a long weekend in Cincinatti and mostly Kentucky-yes Kentucky-where my mother was born. I took the Greyhound bus down and back and therefore got to see alot as we went down the highways.. In my hotel room in Kentucky there were many pamphlets of things to do-guess what-mostly heritage sites and historical homes in the cities nearby. When we used to visit there when I was a child I could not wait to return to Lorain-it seemed so backward down there. The tables have turned my friends. What used to be littered highways and towns with little to do are now clean, inviting, well kept old towns with homes you can see hold a lot of history and they sparkle and Kentucky is proud of their pioneer/coal country heritage. I thought why-why can’t Lorain clean up its act once and for all-grab onto something and go with it. Just as the coal mining that helped produce coal for thousands in America-we also played a part in the production line-where that coal and iron met to make some of the greatest steel in the world. In the city my mother came from ( Harlan)they have a coal museum so you can see how they brought out the coal from the guts of the mountains and an original coal company boarding house restored and it too is a museum. In cities like Berea and Richmond Ky, the original brick homes from the early 1800’s are restored and are heritage sites-all pertinent to the history of each city. Their downtown facades were painted and had awnings-that relected “welcome”. You can tell that many are very proud of their heritage there. Lorain’s history book is jammed packed with things movies are made of but now-who would even know-lousy looking homes, lousy looking grafittied buildings, out of town landlords who just care how nice things are on their own streets in other neighborhoods or cities. I am not sure either Loraine, if Lorain will ever manifest the heritage and retain homes of those who helped make this country great-a small amount have but it’s dwindling and disappearing fast. Very sad. But I did see that it is possible-if they could do it in Kentucky it is still possible to do it here.

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Brian I am a romantic – so yes I love the stories of Lorain’s past – I can relate to the people who used to live and be part of my neighborhood…….. but this post isn’t about the citizens of Lorain caring about their past……. it is about ” economics” it is about an asset that Lorain has that could ,if handled properly, would be not for just the people who live here but to bring in people to this community ..happens all over the world … for every dollar spent in othe communities ( and I would stack Lorain’s maritime historical assets up against any in Maine , etc. ( an our mosquitoes are smaller) they have a return of 1.60 know how many people flock to PEI to see the house of Green Gables?? …it is an untapped resource but one that is going quiickly ……..Michigan is preserving Captain Wilford and drawing tourists to hear his story and see his ship at the bottom of Lake superior but the streets he walked the house he built are decaying… just saying..

    foresight might be nice for a change…….there are grants to preserve the American Story- your story – but what do we go after grants to tear down .. …….. it is shameful sorry – you had the man who was in charge of Naval operations in WORLD WAR 2 – is on the history channel all the time – his house sits there – what has been done to honor this man in his home town – his story is not only Lorain, but nationally and internationally – I directed two people over there as I was hanging on the Captain.. you have people going to paint Broadway _ for who? not the Clevalnd Charities clientelle or LCCA what do they care .but for visitors I would presume …….. I give up it is like flogging a dead horse in this town….

  • 4. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 15, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Well Renee I agree they could if they get off their backsides- and I mean Community Development – the city legislators and administrators.take a look at the Ohio Historic Inventory ( which should be required reading for any new person coming into Community Developemnt …. see if there is a connection with the homes to information available at Black River Historical – let the property owners know – do you know your house, building was ……… and see about tax credits and grants……. it can be done but they better start quickly in my opinion. …………

  • 5. Brian  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:40 am

    I completely agree with you about informing people of the “treasures” that are out there. I also agree that the city needs to become more involved, but the way that our cities community development department is set up and structured I believe that would make a bad situation even worse.

    Here is one of the underlying problems. Lets take the house on Washington Ave next to the old Masonic Temple. It is a neat house with a crappy alley running behind it. The road that runs in front of it is terrible, and the neighborhood is full of transients. I would assume that there are hardly any owner occupied homes there, and the ones that are there are mostly older folks who may have a tough time keeping their homes up.

    There is no “new blood”, or younger residents investing in buying properties in older sections of Lorain. They WILL NOT invest in our city until they feel comfortable about two things. They want decent schools to send their children to and a stable neighborhood. Two things that I cannot see changing any time soon.

    The school situation may be beyond repair. The current school board has no idea what they are going to do in the future because they have no idea what is going to occur next year, even if the levy passes. There is no plan and the current residents can see this so why would a young family INVEST in uncertainty?

    Then on to the neighborhood issues. The only discussion that occurs about improving neighborhoods is about police PROTECTION and CODE ENFORCEMENT, or in another way of looking at it, another type of policing action. It almost makes those that live her feel like they are in a third world communist country.

    Unlike other progressive communities, the city’s and schools REACTION is to blame everyone but itself for its problems and neither one is willing to take the steps to get the community more deeply involved. If they did, they would have to do some of the things that the residents are demanding and they won’t be able to just brush them off like they do now.

    The schools need to do a complete overhaul and eliminate a ton a payroll, but the folks that get that money are the ones that would be loosing their jobs, so that isn’t going to happen.

    The city personal structure is obsolete and is cumbersome, inefficient, and flat out broken, but there also, the folks that need to be moved are quite happy doing what they are doing now and that is unlikely to change.

    The younger generation isn’t stupid, but the city and the schools treat folks like they are idiots by telling them that they are powerless to make real change. That is why people leave Lorain and no one who is willing to invest in our city takes their places.

  • 6. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I agree totally but it is Community Development’s job to “develop the community”

    Let us take the Wilford house by the Masonic Temple ( which is being kept up at least) – across the street from Veterans Park the olest green space in the city – the Masonic Temple – and next door to it the Gilmore house and across the street 2 established churches that still have a viable a congregation ..

    .Ok here is a plan The Wilford House interior is still has great bones…
    the garage out back was actually an old carriage house – a display area …. The “alley wouldn’t take much to fix..and as for the street out front that isn’t in bad shape either .

    So we purchase the Wilford House ( and there is a tale of the captain and his ghost) and possibly the Gilmore property turn it into a Maritime History Home….

    it is a stones throw from the Moore House one of the only Museums in Lorain. – archiving Lorain’;s hisotry . maybe even renting out of couple of the bedrooms – for breakfast a walk to the Charleston Cafe. or maybe they deliver who knows….. Tie in with the LPA take the excusions out to the Lighthouse in the summer and up the river ( this is already in place …. walking tours ( because this area has the “history and the tales” ” have an old fashioned fair/ market place in the park- it can be done we did it in 2007 with great success…. it has to be unique to Lorain to work…..

    talk to the owners of the Masonic Temple ( I know they have or used to “performance space”) see if they would be willing to split the gate with actors and tell the “Lore of Lorain’s Inland Seas”no fancy lighting just an old fashioned theatrical performance as would have been done back in the day… ” tie the tales of Lorain into a weekend event once a month to start- .

    Ok so now you have a start and from that house you can radiate out inclusive of the Moore House and the Port Authority – tie in with the events at the Palace..Sunday Services are all within walking distance- The churches in Lorain in 2007 put together a Sunday service that was unique… and I think would be beneficial to them and to visitors to have a unique service maybe in the park maybe in a differnt church in the neighborhood..have you seen those wonderful stained glass windows at Christian Temple Disciples of Christ…… .. The winter season you adapt for the “mending of the nets” — the churches already have things going on- tales by the firelight ( the fireplaces all work at least they did in the Wilford house… again letting the actors split the gate with the host venue these are all doable things because most of it is in place already and with not a lot of expense . just needs Community Development to get the house in the first place ……. we need a starting point

    and Brian I haven’t even had my 2nd cup of coffee yet… just thinking out loud…. just think what I could come up with given years and a fat salary 😉 .

    As for the schools- I can include them just let me have my bacon sandwich first 🙂

  • 7. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 15, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Oh and for those that say well Lorain is hard to get to off the main drag etc. YOU MAKE THAT AN ASSET! can be done and I know how 🙂 but that will cost you a house on Washington 🙂

  • 8. gramster1  |  May 15, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    We need to remember our past. It is a tie that binds as well, if we forget our past, we have no future. They are linked always. We should have fought harder to have the Maritime Museum relocated here from Vermilion. Toledo, give me a break. We lost so much, we should be celebrating so much more.

  • 9. Renee Dore  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    In Findlay Ohio some residents produced a book of the old homes with history ( some still preserved and some that are no longer there) and the book is called “Porches and Parlors”. The produced it for a few of the older neighborhoods in Findlay then went on to write more on other neighborhoods because so many homes there have pertinent history. Perhaps a project like this dome here in Lorain would at least give notaritety to Lorain’s homes wit history and raise money from the sale of the books. This would make a great summer intern project someone doing urban studies. Just a thought

  • 10. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    gramster1- the Maritime Museum was never going to relocate here it was all part of the dog and pony show Foltin put on to legitimize the deal with the Shawnee. and the MJ and Cole were a huge part of that propaganda publicity……… and that was deal made not to Lorain’s advantage – Foltin said it himself by jumping ahead with this Sahwnee fiasco he got himself a “seat at the table” with the big boys… and I guess he did 🙂 over 100,000 dollars that I was able to track through Mantini paid for that…( before they started taking it out of bond money ??????) @2,500 dollars for lunch at the Elyria Country Club and the guy behind it a convicted felon and security fraud….. Oh gosh another tale of Lorain Sigh

  • 11. Brian  |  May 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I have to say that what you have described is a wonderful idea. I just believe that Community Development as we know it doesn’t have the ability, or the right people, to pull it off. They didn’t resolve the issue of the taxes that should have never been levied against the Moore House and other properties that the city owned that probably would have initially funded the idea that you have.

    By the way, I see Howard Goldberg is on the executive team of a national nonprofit that rehabbs home for disabled vets doing their property aquisition. Maybe he has some ideas on how the city could aquire the properties that you mentioned and make them viable again. He has listed quite the impressive resume.

    “Howard Goldberg- Properties Acquisition & Procurement
    Howard Goldberg has over 35 years of experience in real estate, property tax, and community and economic development, working with city governments, private companies, homeowners, and local and national non-profit organizations. For the past 22 years, as Renewal Administrator with the City of Lorain, OH Community Development Department where he has been a team leader or member on over 80 projects including industrial parks, water front developments, commercial store front, affordable housing, housing rehabilitation, environmental cleanups, and eminent domain. He has presented over 50 pieces of legislation to his City Council and committees; appeared before Zoning Boards of Appeals and Planning Commissions, and is responsible for the Department’s response to property tax valuation cases. His areas of expertise include commercial and residential real estate finance, solving real estate title problems, and navigating most HUD, Block Grant, HOME, NSP, and Tax Credit Programs. He has guest lectured at the Cleveland State University College Graduate School of Urban Affairs, and serves as a mentor to graduate students completing commercial and residential development feasibility studies. He has testified at congressional field hearings on foreclosure and the vacant property crisis and participated in Federal Reserve Bank meetings on the topic.”

  • 12. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    and other non profits were caught up in that fiasco -All Community Development has to do is purchase the property… and although I have said as soon as Eric Barnes’-Heroes Walk is finished so am I – I would get that whole plan together.. the pieces parts are already there it just means co-ordinating the project….. and I have done dozens of similar things over the years… could do standing on my head……. :0 wait until the hisotric homes tour I am taking you on in tomorrow’s post 😉

  • 13. gramster1  |  May 16, 2012 at 2:37 am

    I remember a historical home at the corner of Idaho Ave and East Erie that was torn down and replaced with an apartment building. We tried at that time to get someone to help save it. (This was before the Charleston group and anyone in community development doing anything at all.) The apathy we encountered then is the same as today. How very sad!!!!

  • 14. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 16, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Yes in fact Danial Brady did a post about that beautiful house- of which you speak—–

    yeah well Charleston Village Society only came about because three couples were drinking wine ( a little too much) one summer’s evening and thought it might be a good way to stabilize the neighborhood at the time – I can tell you Community Development didn’t want us to become an organization and put road blocks up in our way .. that made me mad and here we are 🙂

  • […] On my desk is a plethora of information on Henry Oswald Wurmser – the renowned architect mentioned in the previous post […]

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

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May 2012

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