These Old Houses are talking- are we listening?

June 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm 5 comments

Logo – Chris Ritchey

In the past weeks this blog and also Daniel Brady’s Blog have been exploring the houses a history of Lorain, especially in my neighborhood.

My neighborhood is the “oldest” part of Lorain. It is where commerce commenced and those who arrived built their dwellings, where the seat of government, education, and community began. From this little neighborhood a city grew, flourished and floundered , picked itself up and started again on more than one occasion .

I wondered in my previous post whether I would ever get back to Lorain’s history.

I was ranting about landlords , banks and , in my opinion, the raping of Lorain by the rental business and the cost of the pimping out of these old homes for profit .

And then….. last night an email in response to our 2nd Ward Councilman’s request to the city administration concerning a garbage and grass problem brought to his attention by our Portside chairperson came across the computer screen . The mess has been there for many months but with Lorain International coming up this weekend , people attending, walking the area – the state of the property caused consternation .

So what??? you may say we have those problems all over town , well maybe this old house 138 Washington is saying look at me – my story- and the rental rape and what is happening in other parts of the city could be one in the same.

photo Lorain County Auditor

For many months since the last renters moved out this house has had garbage stacked around the outside and of course not one soul has done anything about it.
Why ? Unfortunately the owner of the property Mr. Lewis Strnad passed away in December 2010 so the garbage bill wasn’t paid.

Understandable- this little house falling through the cracks BUT Mr. Strnad had 31 other properties ( see Lorain County Auditors site) – One has to wonder what has happened to those rentals and those garbage pick ups. Over the years some of Mr. Strnads properties housed people who made the news in not a “positive” way . Have other streets and neighborhoods been suffering the stench of garbage and vermin? Who collects the rents whilst neighbors put up with rats?

Apparently the “estate” of Mr. Strnad has been in limbo so to speak and a responsible party is being sought to clear up the mess -on Washington ( at least) Hopefully before this weekends Lorain International Festival.

Charleston Village has involved the Mayors office which is fitting because this little house also on the Ohio Historic Inventory ( and a possible candidate for the National Register) was at one time the home of one of Lorain’s early mayors . You have to wonder what mayor Frank King would say about the 20th and 21st century mayors that have allowed the “prostituting of this old neighborhood? Will Lorain’s 50th mayor make them proud and help them rest easy?

This house, situated on lot #76 of the original Charleston Village Plat, may date to the decade of the 1860’s ( possibly earlier) It appears on an 1874 map of Charleston Village by R.H. Penfield. The middle section of lot #76 ( on which this house stands) was sold in 1858 and again in 1861 to Julia Porter ( Grantor Julia D Root)

In 1874, Porter sold the property to Henry J. King, a salt water sailor and farmer who immigrated from England at the age of 25. This property remained in the King Family (ED NOTE- Not the King family of Admiral Ernest J King renown) with out-side ownership 1876-1882.

FRANK JOSEPH KING, son of Henry King lived in this house possibly as early as 1876 ( documented from 1891) and remained there until ca 1915.
F.J. KING was elected mayor of Lorain in 1902 and was one of only two Lorain mayors ( ED Note at the time of the survey in 1993) to suceed himself in office. He did so twice and served until 1912. King was active in the real estate business. He started out in business in Lorain as a grocer. This house has served as a double residence since 1920.

Are the long since passed owners of these old houses reaching out through the years and showing those of us today through their homes what we are doing wrong?

I would recommend Daniel Brady’s posts on George Wickens-

you know of Wickens Place fame – that too has been in the news lately for the building of a “Family Dollar store” –

I wonder what Mayor King, George Wickens, Captain Wilford, George Wurmser- General Gilmore , Fanny Gilmore,, The Reids, The Baldwins, The Porters, The Bowens even Admiral King would have to say about this old neighborhood and the homes they so lovingly built and the community they worked so hard to protect and help thrive?

Mayor King according to the History of the Western Reserve, Volume 2
By Harriet Taylor Upton, Harry Gardner Cutler
he secured a state reduction in the city tax and although a “Democrat” in the mainly “Republican Lorain” was elected twice – his main impetus in his administration was “public improvements”. Something that today Republicans and Democrats can agree.

I think they, who came before and faced hardships far greater than those of today, would be very disappointed in our idea of “progress”.

However, maybe just maybe ,their homes can help point out the problems effecting all of Lorain and confirm to me at least that

” rental businesses” are just that and need to be viewed as such by the local government and held to a higher standard and licensing that befits any business include the “health and welfare of those who are effected by their decisions.

The banks need to stop dumping their unwanted properties and thus causing those that still live and care for this neighborhood further decline

and we need 100 percent garbage pick-up in this community.

It would be a place to start and I think the “old Mayor King ” would agree……………………..

to be continued

Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Charleston Village, city of lorain, commentary, hell is other people, history, men of substance. Tags: , , , , , , .

The Neighborhood that was???? Landlords ,Banks and Business A positive as opposed to the negative – “the tipping point” reversed

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Renee Dore  |  June 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    If it wasn’t for the house inventory suvey-many of the histories of some of Lorain’s oldest homes would not have been been published and would have remained in a file drawer or on microfilm most likely at the library or museum. Many property owners have owned the homes with history and never knew the significance of the either the people who lived there and what they did for this community or the value of the homes historic architectural style . This little house on Washington has both-ironically what has made this house possibly eligable for historic status is the orginality. It has not been sided, the construction is basically the same for almost 100 years and it is located in the original settlement area. To most it is takes on the definition of slum housing as it is right now, but I bet if this were located in perhpas Vermilion , Amherst, Port Clinton, Lakewood, Norwalk, ( just to name a few local communities) it would have long ago been recognized for the these qualities, been preserved in such manor to be used as a summer cottage or shop of some sort.
    But not here in Lorain. Hopefully the garbage now around it will get removed-have a feeling the house will eventually face the bulldozier. The people who live next to this house just to the south of it have remained a part of this neighborhood for decades doing their best
    keeping up the appearance and quality of their homes ( they own 2).
    Homeowners doing the same all over Lorain deserve better than having to put up with the extreme negative conditions up and down their streets that have beome so prevalent in the past decade.

  • 2. Lisa  |  June 23, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Going to get pictures of the “now” of 138 for you because it is that bad. I was by there tonight and thought “another house that could blight a neighborhood”. Most if not all the windows are broken out, I could probably walk right into the house, there’s a couch upside down in the yard alongside the house, and the beat goes on. Unfortunately, I think Renee is right about it being bulldozer worthy. The sooner the better, by the looks of things.

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  June 23, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Thanks Lisa .

  • 4. aka/mozart  |  June 23, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    yep..the beat goes on…in my hood…is councilman Flores hood….and coming to a hood near you!

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June 2012

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