Minutes of the Avon Historical Society, 10-4-06

President Jack Smith called the October 4, 2006, meeting of the Avon Historical Society to order at 7 pm at the Old Town Hall. The minutes of the September meeting were approved as read.

Treasurer Barb Wolfe reported $1,602.75 in the checking account and $6,197.12 in the money market account.

Ralph White reported that the Scenic Byways Tour "went pretty well." Income included $1971, half of which goes to the Lorain County Preservation Network and half to be divided among the participating entities.

Of the 98 people who visited Avon Isle for the grounds tour by Bob Gates and the indoor tour by Ralph, only 8 were Avonites. The Ohio Volunteer Infantry site in Sheffield Lake had the most visitors with 150 participants.

A plaque commemorating the Avon Isle Park as a Lorain County Historic Landmark was shown to the members.

Bob Gates had a copy of a draft of a revised city ordinance which would make the Planning Commission aware of the presence of historic buildings. He said that it has been reported that a representative of Steve Schafer will be coming before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (11-8-06, 7:30 pm, City Hall) to request permission to demolish the Pickering/Piazza house. Jack Smith encouraged all to contact Schafer (934-1119) to remind him of his commitment for rezoning to retain the house and restore it.

It was also reported that the Schneider house on the south side of Detroit Road next to the Center Road School house has passed its six month waiting period for the denied demolition. That demolition can proceed.

Jack told of tentative plans to change timing of Santa's visit in December. In an effort to encourage French Creek merchants, frequently located in century homes, to generate more business during the Candlelight Walk, festivities may begin at 4 pm at the police station with Santa and the horses. Santa could visit with the merchants in Old Avon Village. The entourage will then go across the street to Long, Long Ago Antiques, Mighty Moose and the Secret Garden. The procession will proceed to the gazebo at 5:30 for the tree lighting. Santa will greet the children at the Old Town Hall at 6 pm.

These changes are pending discussions with the Lions Club, the carolers and John Aunspaw.

Bob Gates moved and Susie Cory seconded the motion to approve the changes. All approved. No nays.

Chuck Huene restated the landscaping plans for Old Town Hall by saying he and Cheryl were looking into the idea of what the place looked like in 1871. He said City Hall has accepted the plan to make changes.

In order to complete the tree trimming and clean up of what was described as "a mini land fill" with poison ivy and oak, $1000 more would be required for Richard's Tree Service. Chuck made the motion for the extra funds, Nancy McGee seconded, all approved. No nays.

Nancy congratulated the Huene's on the decorations at the front exterior of the hall. "That the nicest the front of the hall has ever looked during the fall."

Jack encouraged all to attend the November 2 pot luck supper at the Lorain County Metroparks Carlisle Reservation. Ed Herdendorf will do a Power Point presentation of the Scenic Byways Tour.

New Business

Jean Fisher told of the November 1 meeting -- Betty Lou Higgins will present "You're a Grand Old Flag."

Pat Furnas moved and Jean Fisher seconded the idea for the Avon Historical Society to participate in the Christmas gift box theme by including one of our videos in a box created by Cheryl Huene. The box must be givern to Mary Ann Furey at Long Long Ago by November 21. All approved.

Nancy McGee moved and Jean Fisher seconded on the idea of the annual Christmas party held at the VFW hall December 6. Appetizers and desserts are in order. The Society provides beverages. It was suggested that no additional meats would be needed. This motion is to cover future years unless rescinded. All approved.

Jean introduced Renee Dore who spoke on Charleston Village and then the scheduled speaker Dave Cotton did a first person rendition of Captain Wilford.

Respectfully submitted, JoAnne Easterday, Secretary


NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 1-8-07, by KATE GIAMMARISE, Morning Journal Writer

``Volunteers begin restoration of historic Charleston Cemetery

LORAIN -- Many passers-by think it's a park -- a small, grassy area between Sixth and Seventh streets and Oberlin and Hamilton avenues.

But that ''park'' is really Charleston Cemetery, a small plot of land wedged between the surrounding houses, where some of Lorain's earliest residents are interred.

Now, after years of apparent neglect, members of the Black River Historical Society and Charleston Village Society are working on a project to improve and restore the cemetery.

Frank Sipkovsky, of the Black River Historical Society, said the groups want to add elements such as brick sidewalk, a wrought iron fence and entryway arches to help restore the cemetery, where many of the old headstones are cracked, broken or laying on the ground.

''That is one of the original cemeteries in Lorain,'' Sipkovsky said. ''That's where the founders of the city are buried.''

Lorain resident Diane Wargo-Medina acts as a volunteer caretaker for the cemetery, and is the author of ''The Charleston Cemetery: A Look Into Charleston's Past.''

According to Wargo-Medina, the oldest headstone there dates from 1833, and last burial was in 1880.

Wargo-Medina said she has been interested in the cemetery since she was 19 years old, when she stopped there on her way home from the library.

The headstones were turned over and covered up, and she couldn't even tell it was a cemetery. Wargo-Medina began uncovering and cleaning up the stones and has been working ever since to make sure the cemetery and its occupants aren't forgotten.

''They were people that were hard workers and came to this area to start a new life,'' she said. ''They worked hard and they should be remembered.''

There are at least 40 people buried at the small cemetery, she said.

Loraine Ritchey, a co-chair of the Charleston Village Society, said the groups are about halfway through the first phase of cemetery restoration -- cleaning and landscaping the cemetery and adding arches on the Sixth Street and Seventh Street sides.

Next, she said, they will add lighting and finally, she hopes, fixing the headstones. She estimates the first phases of the project will cost about $35,000, and isn't sure how much it will cost to fix the headstones. Ritchey said for that phase, the groups might try to receive grants to cover the cost.

''It's coming along,'' Ritchey said. Many groups have made donations to help the project along, such as the Lorain High School class of 1946, which donated funds for the Sixth Street arch. The group is also seeking in-kind donations of services to help with the project, not just money, to help un-do the decades of neglect.

''The kids used to play baseball using the headstones as bases, and people used to walk their dogs there,'' Ritchey said. ''Everybody thought it was a park.''

By preserving the site of the cemetery, Ritchey said, maybe the history of Lorain's first inhabitants can be preserved as well.

''There's some really wonderful stories in there,'' she said.

To learn more information or to make a donation, call the Black River Historical Society at (440) 245-2563, or visit www.loraincityhistory.org or call Loraine Ritchey at (440) 246-6046 or visit www.charlestonlorain.org. ''


Comment by Steve McQuillin:

``It was good to look at the former Piazza House, 35676 Detroit Road (Avon, Ohio) yesterday [10-4-06]. This is a brick Greek Revival style Four-Over-Four house that has had a great deal of alterations over the years. I estimate it as dating originally from the 1840-1850 time period.

Original features: simple stair railing and steps, second floor woodwork and doors, original floorboards, at least on the second floor, one second floor fireplace mantel


post-1924 roof with a steeper pitch and eyebrow window

aluminum siding (condition of the masonry underneath unknown)

first floor woodwork all apparently post-1924

all windows and their interior trim are apparently post-1924, but their locations seem original front door and side lights are newer

extensive rear and east side wings

newel post missing

In its current state, the house lacks sufficient integrity to justify listing on the National Register of Historic Places and there probably is insufficient documentation for an accurate reconstruction of missing elements to justify listing, although the second floor woodwork could serve as a basis for reproducing first floor trim.

Given the high costs of a possible move and historic integrity issues, moving the house does not seem like a realistic option.

The house could be rehabilitated on its current site and become an asset to the community, but it would take an enlightened homeowner with sufficient financial resources to achieve this. Alternatively, the house might be able to be adapted for use as an antique or craft shop. Such commercial uses might justify the high costs of restoration.

Elements of a successful rehabilitation, based on the current owner's setting aside a sufficient lot to accommodate this house at its current site and adjusting their development plans accordingly, based on similar examples at my property (Dover Farm) and at Stone Eagle Farm: Remove aluminum siding and at least the east side addition to expose the form and surfaces of the original house. If the brick is too damaged by the siding, it could be painted. Install new sash that are more appropriate six-over-six double-hung units. Consider the option of removing the present roof structure and installing a new structure that is more appropriately sloped, probably a six-twelve pitch. Surviving nearby houses of the period could be the basis for cornice and return details. This would be a fairly expensive change and may not be feasible. Recreate a more appropriate front door, side lights and transom based on surviving elements and other nearby examples.

Consider using the second floor woodwork and doors as a basis for reconstructing these elements on the first floor.

Create four rooms on the first floor, based on the second floor plan.

Acquire or create an appropriate newel post.

Landscape the site appropriately.

With these changes, this house could once again become a prominent landmark along historic Detroit Road.

If the owner seems agreeable, an option could be to work with the Cleveland Restoration Society and the Preservation Resources Center of Northeast Ohio to market the property to an interested historic-minded purchaser. Perhaps these two groups might be able to provide some incentives such as low-interest rate loans. It probably would not be feasible to offer anything other than a 10% tax credits, because of the difficultly of achieving National Register status. [Call Steve Schafer at 934-1119.]''

Steven McQuillin & Associates

(440) 899-1200


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