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Avon Isle nominated for National Register of Historic Places

APPLICATION to include the Avon Isle Dance Pavilion in the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES, 11-6-08

Continuation Sheets

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blog.cleveland.com/thesun/2010/06/avon_isle_bridge_project_is_cl.html

NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun Sentinel, 6-10-10, by Cody Peck, Sun News

``Avon Isle bridge project is close

AVON Following a nomination for addition to the National Register of Historic Places last month, Avon Isle Park could soon be getting a face lift.

City officials are working to begin a restoration process that will begin with Avon Isle's bridge.

The city, which received a $50,000 grant from the state earlier this year, awarded the bid for the bridge project on Monday to Engineered Concrete Structures, a Cleveland-based company.

'The bridge is important because we have no other way to get across to do work on Avon Isle,' Mayor Jim Smith said.

'We have to be able to get equipment across. We want to make sure we have good access before we begin anything.'

Avon Isle is being considered for addition to the National Register because of its significance in American history.

According to officials, it embodies the characteristics that make it an excellent representation of recreational dance pavilions associated with early to mid 20thcentury America.

Built in 1926, the structure was once a popular dance hall that attracted fun-seekers from across the region.

Following the end of the dance era in the late 1950s, it became a recreational and social hub for Avon and surrounding communities ...''

Contact Peck at cpeck@sunnews.com

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www.avonledger.com/

NEWS ARTICLE from The Avon Ledger, 7-10-10, By Andrea Osmun

Avon Isle ...

``Last month, the city of Avon awarded a $147,000 contract to repair the Avon Isle bridge to Engineered Concrete Structures Corp., formerly known as Lakeside Construction. [Mayor James] Smith said work on the bridge should begin in the next two to three weeks.

"Once we get the bridge done, we can get the building buttoned up," Smith said, noting that construction vehicles at this time cannot make it across the unstable bridge.''

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chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2010/07/21/avon-isle-park-gets-national-recognition/

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 7-21-10, by Melissa Hebert

Avon Isle Park gets national recognition

``AVON -- More than four years of work has paid off for Ralph White as Avon Isle Park is officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Avon Isle Park was listed the week of July 9, and the list was published online Friday [7-16-10].

White, vice president of the Avon Historical Society, spent more than four years gathering the history of the park in order to make a presentation to the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board, which he did in April [2010] in Columbus.

"After all the work, the application, the hopes, this is really cool," said White. "It was well worth doing."

White said the next steps will be Avon getting a certificate from the National Register of Historic Places, which is administered by the National Parks Service, and then a plaque to place at the park, which is just west of Colorado Avenue on Detroit Road.

The National Register of Historic Places lists places that should be preserved because of their significance in American history, culture, architecture, archeology or engineering. To be eligible, a place must be associated with events that made significant contributions to the broad patterns of history or be associated with historically significant people, embody significant characteristics of a period of history, have yielded or have potential to yield historical or prehistorical information.

Avon Isle was originally bordered on three sides by French Creek. It is believed to have been a stopping point for nomadic Native American tribes.

When the French arrived in the 18th century, it was a fur-trading post and also may have been a military post prior to and during the French [and] Indian War.

In the 1850s, a channel was cut to increase water flow to a sawmill, and Avon Isle became an island. Avon Isle became a public gathering place in the 1870s, used as a fairground, a place for parties, and during the late 19th century, a place for the U.S. Army to buy horses to use in the Spanish-American War.

Early in the 20th century, the automobile came into being and dance halls became popular. The building currently on Avon Isle, built in 1926, was used as a dance hall and was very popular with people from Elyria and Lorain, where dancing on Sundays was banned.

Big-band and square dances were held there into the early 1950s. There also were fairs, movies and boxing matches there ...

White said he hopes to see the original building preserved.

"It was a big reason why Avon Isle made the Register," he said. "It's all original. There's no plastic or vinyl."

Someday, White said, he thinks Avon Isle will be a vibrant part of community life in Avon again.

"It can be used for picnics, festivals, dances, class reunions, family reunions, receptions, bingo, yoga classes," he said. "It can be a great asset for the city."''

Contact Melissa Hebert at mhebert@chroniclet.com.

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www.morningjournal.com/articles/2010/07/22/news/mj3057769.txt

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 7-22-10, By MEGAN ROZSA mrozsa@MorningJournal.com

``AVON -- The site of many entertainment memories, Avon Isle Park, 37080 Detroit Road, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In order to be considered for the distinction, a building or place must qualify as somewhere that should be preserved due to its significance in American history, architecture, engineering or culture, according to the Register's website.

Avon Mayor Jim Smith is working to get the dance hall on the site fixed up to be used again.

"We got a $170,000 energy grant to fix up the building, and we're looking at putting on new siding and replacing the windows," Smith said. "It's getting to the point now where it will be in disrepair. We're going to use this grant to shore the building up which is really good news."

Built in 1926, Avon Isle had a recreational dance hall for more than 50 years. In its prime, the hall was a popular spot during a time when social dancing was a major recreational and social activity. Smith's parents met there in 1935, he said ...

Smith said, "We're going to do what we can to make it last a long time. I'm glad it's on the Register, and I'd like to keep it on the Register ... To a lot of people this building means nothing, but to some of us it means a lot."''

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chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2010/06/02/avon-isle-park-added-to-national-register/

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 6-2-10, by Melissa Hebert

``Avon Isle Park added to national register

AVON -- Avon Isle Park will be added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Ohio Historical Society announced Tuesday [6-1-10].

The register, administered by the National Parks Service, lists places that should be preserved because of their significance to American history, culture, architecture, engineering or archeology. To be eligible, a place must be associated with events that made significant contributions to the broad pattern of history, be associated with historically significant people, embody specific elements of a period of history and have yielded or have the potential to yield historical or prehistorical information.

Avon Isle, bordered on three sides by French Creek, is believed to have once been a stopping point for nomadic Native American tribes. It was later used by the French as a furtrading post and a possible military base around the time of the French and Indian War.

In the 1850s, Avon Isle became an island when French Creek was diverted for a sawmill. In the 1870s, it became a public gathering place where fairs and parties were held. During the Spanish-American War, it was used by the Army as a place to buy horses.

During the early 20th century, dance halls became popular and Avon Isle had one. The current building was built in 1926. Over the years, it held big-band dances and square dances, showed movies, hosted boxing matches and firemen's carnivals. It fell out of use in the 1960s, as people started going to movie theaters and later malls for their entertainment ...''

Contact Melissa Hebert at mhebert@chroniclet.com.

NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 4-12-10, by Melissa Hebert

``Dancing, boxing among memories of Avon Isle Park, which is up for recognition as historic site

AVON -- Avon Isle Park is one step closer to making the National Register of Historic Places. The Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board voted Friday [4-9-10] to recommend the nomination of the park, along with five other sites around the state, for the National Register of Historic Places ...

Ralph White, vice president of the Avon Historical Society, made the presentation in Columbus on Friday. He spent four years preparing, researching the history of the site and compiling oral histories from people who went there for events such as dances, clambakes and boxing matches.

[See www.avonhistory.org/oralhist/isle8.htm ]

With Friday's unanimous vote of approval from the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Board, the recommendation goes to the National Park Service, which administers the National Register of Historic Places. White said he expects to hear back from the Park Service by early summer.

The National Register of Historic Places lists places that should be preserved because of their significance in American history, cluture, architecture, archeology or engineering.

To be eligible, a place must be associated with events that made significant contributions to the broad patterns of history or be associated with historically significant people, embody significant characteristics of a period of history, have yielded or have potential to yield historical or prehistorical information.

Avon Isle, bordered on three sides by French Creek, is believed to have been a stopping point for nomadic Native American tribes before the French arrived in the 18th century and used it as a fur trading post. Later discoveries of French military buttons lead some to believe that it may have served as a military installation prior to and during the French and Indian War.

In the 1850's, a channel was cut to increase the water supply to a sawmill and turned Avon Isle into and island. In the 1870's, the land became a public gathering place, said Jack Smith of the Avon Historical Society. It was used as a fairground, a place for parties, and a place where farmers could compete over who had the best produce or livestock.

[See www.avonhistory.org/jean/isle.htm ]

"Back then, you couldn't jump in the car and go somewhere," he said. "This was where you went for fun, to be with your friends and neighbors." Smith said that during the late 19th century, the U.S. Army used it as a marketplace to buy horses to use in the Spanish-American War.

As the 20th century began, horses gave way to automobiles; and dance halls became the rage. The building that stands there today was built in 1926. People from Lorain and Elyria, where dancing on Sundays was banned, got in their new automobiles and headed to Avon for some fun.

There was big-band dancing and square dancing at the dance pavilion from when it opened into the early 1950s, Smith said. He remembers going in the late 1940s as a boy and hearing Elsie Biltz play the piano and call the square dances while her husband, George, kept the beat on the drums.

The building also was used to show movies and hold boxing matches. As time went on, Avon Isle was still used for the fire department's summer carnival, but it faded out of favor as a gathering spot as young people flocked to drive-ins, and later malls.

The city bought the property in ... [1997]. On the surface, White said, Avon Isle Park amy not look like much. It's simple style in unlike some other dance halls, which could almost be baroque. But it's what went on there, not how it looks, that makes it historical and important to Avon, White said.

"It's where a community was built," he said. "So many people made friends there, or met their future spouses at dances there."

The city of Avon plans to renovate the site, including the currently unsafe and unusable one-way bridge to the park. White hopes that historic preservation is kept in mind when updating the building, which still has many original features such as windows, doors and siding. White said he hopes that the building can become a community gathering place, like the Folger Home in Avon Lake.

Preserving Avon Isle is important, White said. As farmland has given way to housing and commercial development, as so many new people move in, he fears the town's roots could be lost. "We've lost so much already," he said. "And once it's gone, it's gone. You can't get that back."''

Contact Melissa Hebert at mhebert@chroniclet.com

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blog.cleveland.com/thesun/2010/04/avon_isle_may_become_historic.html

NEWS ARTICLE from The Sun, 4-16-10, By Cody Peck, Sun News

``Avon Isle may become historic landmark; city hopes to restore, preserve property

AVON -- The glory days of the old Avon Isle are long gone, but plans to restore and preserve the historic landmark may finally become a reality.

Members of the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board voted last week to nominate the building, located at 37080 Detroit Road, for addition to the National Register of Historic Places at the National Park Service.

If the property meets the appropriate criteria, it will be added to the National Register, which lists places that should be preserved because of their significance in American history.

Built in 1926, the Avon Isle was once a popular dance hall that attracted fun-seekers from across the region. Following the end of the dance era in the late 1950s, it became a recreational and social hub for Avon and surrounding communities ...

According to officials, it embodies the characteristics that make it an excellent representation of recreational dance pavilions associated with early - to mid 20th - century America.

Kim Schuette, a representative for the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, said it also follows the country's trend in social development. "Avon Isle is not the typical dance hall," she said. "Many dance halls were associated with amusement parks. This was not developed like that. It has a more community, natural setting. It survived because of continued use."

Avon Mayor Jim Smith, a lifelong resident who recalls frequenting the site throughout his youth, said the city also has applied for a near $200,000 grant from the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council.

According to him, the money would pay for repairs and additions such as new windows and energy efficient heating and cooling systems.

However, even with the upgrades, he hopes to keep the building's old-fashion appeal. "We want to bring it back to its original look as much as possible," he said.''

Contact Peck at cpeck@sunnews.com

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www.morningjournal.com/articles/2010/04/10/news/mj2577531.txt

NEWS ARTICLE from The Morning Journal, 4-10-10, By MEGAN ROZSA and JAMILA T. WILSON, news@MorningJournal.com

``National Register of Historic Places looks at local sites in Avon, Berlin Township

AVON -- Two area properties have been nominated by the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places. Avon Isle, 37080 Detroit Road, Avon, and Stone House, 8217 Mason Road, Berlin Township.

"Both are very worthy properties to be recognized in the National Register," said Barbara Powers, head of the Inventory and Registration Department at the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. The National Register lists places that should be preserved due to their significance in American history, architecture, engineering or culture, according to a news release.

Built in 1926, Avon Isle served as a recreational dance hall for more than 50 years. In its prime, the pavilion was a popular spot during a time when social dancing was a major recreational and social activity.

Avon Mayor Jim Smith said both his parents danced at the hall and went there when they were dating. "That was a hot spot," Smith said.

[See www.avonhistory.org/histmin/3feb10.htm#becky ]

The city has applied for a $200,000 grant to restore the hall. "We're going to rejuvenate it to its original condition, but obviously with materials that will last longer and are energy efficient," he said ...

The nomination ... will be reviewed a final time before being signed by the Ohio Historic Preservation Office and then forwarded to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., which governs the register nationwide, Powers said. Decisions on the nominations are expected in about 90 days.''

For more on the Avon Isle, see www.avonhistory.org/jean/islindex.htm

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APPLICATION to include the Avon Isle Dance Pavilion in the NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES, 11-6-08:

NPS [National Park Service] Form 10-900 OMB No. 1024-0018 (Rev. 10-90)

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Section 1. Name of Property

Historic name: Avon Isle

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Section 2. Location

street & number: 37080 Detroit Road

city or town: Avon

state: Ohio, code: OH

county: Lorain, code 093

zip code: 44011

Section 3. State/Federal Agency Certification ...

Section 4. National Park Service Certification ...

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Section 5. Classification

Ownership of property: public-local

Category of Property: building(s)

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Section 6. Function or Use

Historic Functions: RECREATION AND CULTURE / Music faciltiy, theater, outdoor recreation, fair, and sports facilty

SOCIAL, EDUCATION

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Section 7. Description

Architectural Classification: OTHER / Vernacular with elements of prairie school and neo-classical revival

Materials

Foundation: STONE

roof: ASPHALT / Shingles

walls: WOOD / Weatherboard

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Section 8. Statement of Significance

Applicable National Register Criteria

(Mark "x" in one or more boxes for the criteria qualifying the property for National Register listing)

X A. Property is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. ...

Areas of Significance

(Enter categories from instructions)

ENTERTAINMENT/RECREATION

SOCIAL HISTORY

Period of Significance: 1926 - 1980 ...

Architect/Builder: Roth, F. J.

Narrative Statement of Significance ...

(Explain the significance of the property on one or more continuation sheets.)

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Section 9. Major Bibliographical References

Bibliography

(Cite the books, articles, and other sources used in preparing this form on one or more continuation sheets.)

Primary location of additional data

X State Historic Preservation Office

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Section 10. Geographical Data

Acreage of Property: 1.86 acres

UTM Reference

[Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system. See

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Transverse_Mercator_coordinate_system]

Zone: 17

Easting: 413430

Northing: 4589190

Verbal Boundary Description

See attached map titled AVON ISLE PARK, boundary marked by the French Creek (blue) and by a solid black line.

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Section 11. Form Prepared By name/title organization

Ralph D. White, Charles E. Herdendorf, and Ricki C. Herdendorf

date: November 6, 2008

street & number: Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive

telephone: 440-934-7720

city or town: Avon

state: Ohio

zip code: 44011 ...

Property Owner

name: City of Avon

street & number: 36080 Chester Road

telephone: 440-937-7800

city or town: Avon

state: Ohio

zip code: 44011

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NPS Form 10-900OMB No. 1024-0018 (Rev. 10-90)

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service

NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES CONTINUATION SHEETS

Section number 7 Page 1

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Narrative Description

SUMMARY:

The 50-by-70-foot dance pavilion known as Avon Isle is located in Avon Isle Park at 37080 Detroit Road in Avon, Ohio. The City of Avon owns the park, and the now vacant pavilion.

Constructed in the 1920s, this one story building with its low hip roof and its columned, full-façade porch possesses elements of both Prairie and Neo-Classical Revival styles.

With few exceptions, the exterior and interior of the building are remarkably unchanged from their original construction. Currently, Avon Isle is in good condition although some repairs are needed.

SETTING:

Avon Isle Park is located on the north side of Detroit Road, west of State Route 611, within an area of Avon known as the French Creek District. Surrounded on three sides by French Creek, the 4-acre park is encircled by a woodland of mature deciduous and coniferous trees.

Avon Isle dance pavilion is situated on a nearly 2-acre parcel within the park. The only access to the property is from Detroit Road via a one-lane bridge. State and local funds have recently been appropriated to reconstruct the bridge. Currently, there is ample parking available on Detroit Road just south of the bridge.

In 1854 a sawmill was built adjacent to the present location of the pavilion. A deep raceway channel was dug to increase the velocity of water to the sawmill's waterwheel. This construction turned the Avon Isle property into an island. The raceway channel has since been filled making the property a peninsula.

EXTERIOR DESCRIPTION:

Avon Isle was built as a dance pavilion and community gathering place in 1926. This one-story rectangular, wood-frame building (50 by 70 feet) has a cross-symmetrical plan. It features a moderate-pitch truncated-hip roof with a centrally located, four-sided cupola.

The exterior walls of the entire building consist of painted horizontal clapboard siding. It has a quarry-face sandstone foundation with a full basement.

Avon Isle was built in a vernacular style with Prairie and Neo-Classical Revival elements (Blumenson 1981, McAlester and McAlester 1997, Herdendorf et al. 2005).

The front-facing west façade has three bays, two 12-over-12-double hung windows with wide painted wood casing and a centrally located door. The west façade also has a full-length porch and shed roof supported by six round, unfluted Doric columns. The columns serve as supports on half-height, painted wood clapboard side walls. The porch is approximately five feet above ground level.

The south side has five bays, each with a 12-over-12-double-hung window, above four 8-light basement windows. The south facade chimney is not original, having been built of brick when a new furnace was installed in the basement within the past 10 years.

The east side (back) has two bays, each with 12-over-12-double-hung windows, an original brick chimney, basement door, and an attached shed with entrance door. The north side has a continuation of the front porch roof and three bays, each with a 12-over-12-double-hung window.

The walls are constructed using balloon wood framing. Overhanging boxed eaves, with attached gutters, surround the perimeter of the building. The roof, built in Prairie style, is a dual-pitched, normal sloped hip roof covered with coursed shingles. The basement is constructed of square cut, quarry-face sandstone with window openings.

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Section number 7 Page 2

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Narrative Description (Continued)

Avon Isle has undergone very little physical change in its 82 years; it retains the major features of its design and function. All large double hung windows are original, as well as the horizontal clapboard siding.

The original color was most likely white, but is currently painted a medium gray-blue. All window and door openings are in their original location; however, the front doors have been replaced.

The original main entrance was a wooden double door, painted gray with a row of small transom-like windows at the top (interview with Jessie M. Root, October 31, 2008).

The cupola was used for ventilation, air circulation, and natural lighting. The cupola windows have been covered with wood to conserve heat, but they are still intact.

The front porch is weather-beaten; the whole building needs a coat of paint. New shingles were put on the roof in 1989. Currently, there are wooden steps leading to the emergency exit on the exterior north wall. However, during future renovation, they would be replaced with correct period-specific steps.

INTERIOR DESCRIPTION:

With a few minor exceptions, the interior of Avon Isle remains remarkably unchanged since its construction in 1926. The two floors of Avon Isle contain two separate personalities. The first floor is a large open room with the original wooden dance floor while the basement has a cement floor and stone walls.

The first level is an open expanse, the original wood floor is illuminated by sunlight pouring in through the large double hung windows. Inside, the hardwood floor is scuffed and the mirrors are clouded from age.

The hardwood dance floor is original. The ceiling follows the roofline to the top of the building; however, a temporary drop ceiling was installed in the mid-1990s to conserve heat. A carpeted stage, located symmetrically along the north wall, is another notable interior feature. Two beveled glass mirrors flank the stage.

A wide staircase, including a ground-level landing with an exit door, leads to the lower basement level. The cement floor in the basement shows evidence of water that has leaked in through a crack in the foundation. There is a large stone hearth on the south wall, and a storage room on the north wall of the basement. A long wooden bar once stood along the east wall; however, it has since been removed. Restrooms were installed in the basement in the 1940s.

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Section number 8 Page 3

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Narrative Statement of Significance

Avon Isle is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places owing to its association with events that made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history for Avon and its surrounding communities. For over 50 years, the building served as the hub for Avon and surrounding communities' recreational, entertainment and social activities.

It embodies the characteristics that make it an excellent representation of dance pavilions associated with early to mid-twentieth century America. The building is important to the history and development specifically of Avon, however, it is also significant in a broader sense. This building represents a recreational pattern that was observed in many parts of Ohio and across the nation.

During much of the twentieth century, social dancing was one of the major recreational activities in industrialized northern Ohio. During the peak years between the 1920s and the 1950s, there were over 150 dance halls accessible to Greater Clevelanders, not including several hundred more dance floors in hotels, nightclubs, and private halls. These included facilities extending in the east to Conneaut Lake Park, PA; in the south to Meyers Lake Park, Canton. OH; and in the west to Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, OH.

Although cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles had larger facilities, Greater Cleveland became well known to musicians and bandleaders as a place to develop with a chance to move into a position of national prominence (Encyclopedia of Cleveland History website; Nesbitt 2002).

Avon Isle Park is located in the City of Avon within Lorain County, Ohio. The Park consists of a historic Avon Isle dance pavilion surrounded by a tree-lined meadow and the sandstone gorge of French Creek. Situated at the center of a once rural community, it was a natural gathering place for the community. The property is historically important due to the social, recreational, and educational events that took place at the location of Avon Isle. These events made significant cultural contributions to the history of Avon and the surrounding communities.

Avon Isle rests on land once believed to have offered Native American Indians a secure campsite because the land was surrounded on three sides by the French Creek, leaving only one side to guard. This land may also have been a battleground during the French and Indian War (1750s).

Some 100 years later (circa 1854) during the excavation to build a steam sawmill on a lot adjacent to the Avon Isle property, workers found French military buttons along with human remains. In order to increase the velocity of the water to the mill, a deep channel was dug next to the sawmill rendering the Avon Isle property an island. The channel no longer exists, having been filled in after the sawmill closed, but its scar still may be detected on aerial photographs (interview with Jean Fischer, July 5, 2007).

Avon, Ohio had its origin when Township 7 in Range 16 of the Connecticut Western Reserve received its first permanent American settlers in 1814, led by Wilbur Cahoon of Montgomery County, New York. Township 7 was originally administered by Dover Township and was part of Cuyahoga County, variously named Xeuma and Troy.

In 1824, Lorain County was created and the name of Troy Township was changed to Avon Township. An Avon post office was established in 1825. In 1911, the residents of the northern portion of the township voted to form the incorporated Village of Avon Lake. Possession of the Nickel Plate Railroad was granted to Avon Lake by a court decision. The remaining part of Avon Township was incorporated as the Village of Avon in 1917. Avon Village became the City of Avon in 1961 due of the census of 1960.

Like many towns in the area, Avon was originally a farming community. In 1875, the Avon Isle grounds hosted the Avon Agricultural Fair. Categories included horses, sheep, cattle, swine, and poultry. Others included farm products, vegetables, domestic manufacturing and ornamentation. These gatherings served both educational and social purposes. The local farmers would come to learn about agriculture and related mechanical issues, while socializing with friends and neighbors.

The growth of industry, transportation, and communication brought about many changes in Avon. Farming and agriculture declined as more modern occupations and interests were pursued.

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Section number 8 Page 4

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Narrative Statement of Significance (Continued)

Avon Isle dance hall was constructed during the Prohibition Era, but no evidence has emerged to indicate that this structure was used as a `speakeasy', where illegial alcoholic beverages were served (interview with Jessie M. Root, October 31, 2008). Rather, and perhaps more significantly, Avon Isle was a gathering place for area residents without regard for religious, political, or social affiliations.

[Like the consolidated schools of the 1920's, which ended the era of the one-room schoolhouse in Avon, the Avon Isle Dance Pavilion was made possible by the automobile revolution.]

Avon was settled in the first half of the nineteenth century by two diverse groups of people. In the early decades of the century Protestant New Englanders were the first to settle, followed by Bavarian [German] Catholics in the 1840s. This religious separation prevailed for decades and even extended to the schools so that social contact bewteen these groups was limited.

During World War I and the years immediately following, many Anglo-American citizens of northern Ohio harbored a mistrust of people with a Germanic background, which further divided the groups. Avon Isle, built in the 1920s, provided the ideal setting, and perhaps the only one, where young people as well as adults from these disperate groups could mix, get to know each other, and begin to understand the culture of their neighbors.

The Big Band music of this period, as well as traditional square dances offered a unifying force (Nesbitt 2002; interview with Gladys Wisnieski, October 29, 2008). In this way Avon Isle served to consolidate the social fabric of Avon and provide a neutral place to discuss issues of mutual concern in an informal setting.

In 1926, F.J. Roth built a dance pavilion known as the Avon Isle. Once constructed, the building served as a central location for Avon and neighboring communities; people came from all over northeast Ohio to gather there.

Over the past 82 years, Avon Isle has served many generations as a social and recreational gathering place. In the 1920s and 1930s, the pavilion was used primarily for dances. The cities of Elyria and Lorain had banned dancing on Sundays, so frustrated residents went to the Avon Isle to dance.

Big bands, including Guy Lombardo, played there in the 1940s. According to Avon and Sheffield residents, "the Isle," as it was known, was a favorite place to go in the 1950s to enjoy square dancing (interviews with Agnes Zilka, January 16, 2002 and Gladys Wisnieski, October 29, 2008).

A local couple, George and Elsie Biltz, have become legends in the Avon area for the way they led the lively square dances. For 18 years, George played the fiddle while Elsie pounded away on the piano. Elsie's piano remained at Avon Isle until the early 1990s, but a drum from "the Isle" is still on display at the Old Town Hall of 1871, meeting place of the Avon Historical Society (interviews with Jack Moir, October 30, 2008 and Gladys Wisnieski, October 29, 2008).

Agnes Zilka recalled, "on Saturdays and Sundays, if you didn't get there early, you'd be lucky if you got in there." She remembered that one night a patron complained about being tired from all of the dancing. When she suggested that he sit out a dance, he replied, "yeah, but when you start the music, I can't keep my feet still anymore."

Gladys Wisnieski recalls taking the South Lorain to Cleveland bus with her sister Maggie to Avon Isle dances in the 1940s. They boarded the bus at the corner of Abbe and French Creek Roads for the 15-minute ride to Avon Isle for a fare of 10 cents. Gladys remembers laughing and dancing all night long with the Avon boys, but they had to be sure to catch the last bus home when the dance hall closed at 1 p.m.

In its early days, Charlie Chaplin movies played at the hall - admission price was a nickel. The Avon Fire Department held their festivals on the grounds of the Isle in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. Carnivals, complete with "kiddie" rides, were held there in the 1950s for children of all ages.

By the 1960s the dances had stopped, however, the grounds and building were still very much a part of the community. In 1964, Avon was 150 years old and Avon Isle was headquarters for the city's Sesquicentennial celebration. One resident remembered the celebration was held over a long weekend and likened the event to a festival, "there were a lot of organizations -- they had booths -- they sold food -- and they had a beard growing contest -- and anyone that was clean-shaven they locked them up -- they had a little jail over there -- you had to donate to charity -- they were ahead of their time" (interview with Tom Tomlin, July 26, 2007).

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Section number 8 Page 5

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Narrative Statement of Significance (Continued)

In the 1970s, amateur and professional boxing matches, such as Golden Gloves, were held at Avon Isle. Avon's Mayor, Jim Smith, participated in many amateur boxing matches at Avon Isle during that period of time. He was called the "clipper kid" which was a reference to his work as a barber (interview with James Smith, July 23, 2007).

Mayor Smith recalls that there would be up to 15 fights in one night, including a main event match. Some fights were between neighbors and residents of the city who had an argument or problem with each other.Mayor Smith says, "The place was packed by the end of the night because everyone wanted to see who was going to win."

Throughout the 1970s, Avon Isle was also used for wedding receptions, picnics, clambakes, bingo, and quilting parties (interviews with Betty Blair, July 25, 2007 and Jean Ackerman, July 20, 2007). "It was always a community meeting place in one way or another," says Avon resident Jean Fischer.

The doors of Avon Isle closed as a dance pavilion in 1980. Since then the building has been used as offices for the parks and recreation department, yoga classes, and pom-pom team practice. Currently, the building is vacant and not in use.

Avon Isle has remained virtually unchanged. Avon Isle is an increasingly rare example of a community dance hall and pavilion. This building is worthy of protection and efforts are underway to restore and to ensure that the area remains a central location for community activities, as it has for decades.

Although no definite plan has been formulated, the City of Avon would like to restore the building for use as a community center; the grounds could be used as an outdoor family entertainment area.

The City of Avon has recently received $50,000 in funding from the State to be matched by $50,000 in local funds to replace the one-lane access bridge to Avon Isle Park. Avon Mayor Jim Smith recently stated, "With a building this size, anything is possible. The possibilities are limitless with this place. The building does need a lot of work and repairs, but the memories are still intact from the times that I went there. We want to create our own new set of memories now."

As noted by Stephen C. Gordon, Survey and National Register Manager for the Ohio Historic Preservation Office in his letter to Ralph White of the Avon Historical Society on January 6, 2006, "After carefully considering the information [supplied by the Avon Historical Society] we believe the property has merit for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

The property appears to meet National Register Criterion A -- built in 1926, is an intact and increasingly rare example of a community dance hall and dance pavilion." Therefore, the Avon Historical Society is pleased to nominate Avon Isle for the National Register of Historic Places based on Criteria A: "properties can be eligible for nomination that are associated with events by being associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history."

The historic importance of Avon Isle has been recognized by two local organizations. In 2003, by a referendum vote, the citizens of the City of Avon established a Landmarks Preservation Commission charged with conducting a survey to create a register of Avon's historical landmarks.

In 2004, Avon Isle was nominated for and accepted as one of the properties on the Avon Landmarks Register. A bronze plaque was presented by the Landmarks Preservation Commission to the City of Avon in 2005.

In 2006, the Lorain County Historical Society's Preservation Network and the Lorain County Commissioners developed a Historic Landmark Program to identify historic sites and structures in the County. At the Lorain County Commissioners' meeting on November 16, 2006, Avon Isle was recognized as one of seven sites to initiate the program and was awarded a bronze plaque to be displayed in the structure.

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Section number 8 Page 6

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Narrative Statement of Significance (Continued)

OWNERSHIP HISTORY:

All of Avon Township (Township 7, Range 16 of the Connecticut Western Reserve) was owned by Pierpont Edwards. He purchased it from the Connecticut Land Company, circa 1814.

Ownership of Avon Isle Property

1814 - ? Pierpont Edwards

1851 - ? Isaac Burrell

1874 - 1911 John Lenzen

1911 - 1916 Matthew and Martin Lenzen, Anna Thome, Agnes Lescher

1916 - 1919 Chas. Kreitzen, Clyde McAllister, Peter Cooper, Matt Schneider

1919 - 1924 Island Park Realty Company

1924 - 1933 F.J. and Anna M. Roth

1933 - 1984 Julius Barbier

1984 - 1987 Isle Properties

1987 - 1997 AMR Development (Jack Moir)

1997 - Present City of Avon

In 1997, the City of Avon purchased the Avon Isle parcel (1.86 acres) along with three parcels (1.96 acres) of surrounding land for $285,000.

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Section number 9 Page 7

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Bibliography

PRINTED MATERIALS:

Blumenson, John J.-G. Identifying American Architecture: A Pictorial Guide to Styles and Terms 1600-1945. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1981.

Gordon, Stephen C. How to Complete the Ohio Historic Inventory. Columbus, OH: Ohio Historic Preservation Office, 1992.

Herdendorf, Charles E., Ralph D. White, and Thomas Hoerrle. Proposal to Establish a North Ridge Scenic Byway for Lorain County, Ohio. Sheffield Village, OH: Sheffield Village Historical Society and Avon Historical Society, 2005, available at

www.ohiobyway.com

Kitchen, Judith L. Old-Building Owner's Manual. Columbus, OH: Ohio Historic Preservation Office, 1983.

Lake, D. J. Atlas of Lorain County Ohio. Philadelphia: Titus Simmons & Titus, 1874. [available Elyria, Ohio Public Library]

McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997.

McKee, Harley J. Recording Historic Buildings. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, 1970.

McQuillin, Steve. Preserving Our Past. Elyria, OH: Lorain County Regional Planning Commission, 1977.

Nesbitt, Burton J. Big Bands on the Lakefront: Crystal Beach, Cedar Point, Elberta Beach, Ruggles Beach, and Other Spots. Amherst, OH: B.J. Nesbitt, 2002. [available Lorain, Ohio Public Library]

WEBSITES:

Wikipedia, Avon, Ohio History,

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avon,_Ohio

[November 2, 2008]

Avon Historical Society [unofficial web site],

The Avon Isle Park, Avon, Ohio,

www.avonhistory.org/jean/isle.htm

Other references at www.avonhistory.org:

www.avonhistory.org/hist/hto74.htm

www.avonhistory.org/jean/islindex.htm

www.avonhistory.org/jean/isle2.htm

www.avonhistory.org/cityhall/isle.htm

www.avonhistory.org/jean/jean700.htm

www.avonhistory.org/gnews/pres7.htm

www.avonhistory.org/hist/fire7.htm

www.avonhistory.org/oralhist/isle8.htm

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Dance Halls and Selected List of Dance Halls and Ballrooms in Cuyahoga County as of 1986,

ech.case.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=DH1

ech.cwru.edu/Resource/text/SLODHABICC.html

[November 2, 2008]

Vermilion-on-the-Lake Historic Community Center,

Vermilion-on-the-Lake Clubhouse History,

www.volohio.org/history.htm

Lorain County, Ohio, Auditor, Real Estate Records, Lorain County Internet Maps and Real Estate Summary, Parcel 04-00-010-113-61, 37080 Detroit Road, Avon, OH,

www.loraincounty.com/auditor/logged-in/maps/

and

www.loraincounty.com/auditor/summary/results

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Section number 9 Page 8

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Bibliography (Continued)

INTERVIEWS:

[ www.avonhistory.org/oralhist/isle8.htm ]

January 16, 2002. Interviewer: Catherine Gilfether, Cleveland Plain Dealer, reporter; Interviewee: Agnes Zilka, 77 year-old, long-time Avon resident who frequented Avon Isle in the 1920s and 1930s [feature article, Cleveland Plain Dealer January 16, 2002]

July 5, 2007. Interviewer: Ralph White; Interviewee: Jean Fischer, Historian for the Avon Historical Society. [transcript available Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive, Avon, OH 44011]

July 20, 2007. Interviewer: Rhonda Newman; Interviewee: Jean Ackerman, 73 year-old, life-long resident of Sheffield Village, Ohio resident. [transcript available Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive, Avon, OH 44011]

July 23, 2007. Interviewer: Rhonda Newman; Interviewee: James Smith, Mayor, City of Avon, Ohio. [transcript available Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive, Avon, OH 44011]

July 25, 2007. Interviewer: Rhonda Newman; Interviewee: Betty Blair, Lorain County Commissioner. [transcript available Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive, Avon, OH 44011]

July 26, 2007. Interviewer: Rhonda Newman; Interviewee: Tom Tomlin, Avon resident. [transcript available Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive, Avon, OH 44011]

July 27, 2007 and October 31, 2008. Interviewers: Rhonda Newman and Charles E. Herdendorf; Interviewee: Jessie M. Root, 95 year-old, long-time Avon resident, 39017 Detroit Road, Avon, OH 44011. [transcript available Sheffield Village Historical Society, 4944 Detroit Road, Sheffield Village, OH 44035]

October 29, 2008. Interviewer: Charles E. Herdendorf; Interviewee: Gladys (Jungbluth) Wisnieski, 80 year-old, long-time Sheffield Village resident who frequented Avon Isle in the 1940s, 3935 East River Road, Sheffield Village, OH 44054. [transcript available Sheffield Village Historical Society, 4944 Detroit Road, Sheffield Village, OH 44035]

October 30, 2008. Interviewer: Charles E. Herdendorf; Interviewee: Jack Moir, former owner of Avon Isle, Avon Lake, OH 44012. [transcript available Sheffield Village Historical Society, 4944 Detroit Road, Sheffield Village, OH 44035]

November 1, 2008. Interviewer: Charles E. Herdendorf; Interviewee: Burton J. Nesbitt, author, histories of Lorain County dance bands, 165 Butternut Drive, Amherst, OH 44001. [transcript available Sheffield Village Historical Society, 4944 Detroit Road, Sheffield Village, OH 44035]

CONTRIBUTORS:

This nomination was researched and prepared by Ralph D. White of the Avon Historical Society and Charles E. and Ricki C. Herdendorf of the Sheffield Village Historical Society. The following individuals are acknowledged for their assistance in this process:

Marilyn Fedelchak-Harley, coordinator of the Lorain County Preservation Network;

Rhonda Newman, intern with the Avon Historical Society;

Joe Richvalsky, member Avon Historical Society and Avon Landmarks Presevation Commission;

Christine White, member Avon Historical Society; and Linda Cory.

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Section number 10 Page 9

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Boundary Justification

The winding flow of French Creek has historically defined the property line associated with Avon Isle. To this day, the Creek serves as a natural boundary for most of the parcel on which Avon Isle is located.

In 1997, the City of Avon purchased the Avon Isle parcel (04-00-010-113-061) with an acreage of 1.86. At the same time the City of Avon purchased three adjoining parcels bringing the total acreage of Avon Isle Park to 3.82. The total price for this acquisition was $285,000.

For the purposes of this nomination, only the parcel which contains Avon Isle is specified. The boundary of this parcel includes all land historically associated with this property.

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Section number Photo List Page 10

Avon Isle, Lorain County, OH

Photographs

Photographer: Kevin H. Ziegman and Ralph D. White

Date: March 22, 2008 and June 26, 2007, respectively

Negatives: Avon Historical Society, 36715 Lakeland Drive, Avon, Ohio 44044

1. Exterior west and south side of land and building

2. Exterior south side

3. Exterior west front side with pillar porch

4. Exterior east back side (seen through winter trees)

5. Exterior north side with exit door

6. Exterior south side of the property (bridge and flowing stream around south/east sides)

7. Exterior east back side (side shed, basement door and brick chimney)

8. Exterior east back side (basement door and cleaning chimney hole)

9. Exterior south side entrance door (with house numner)

10. Exterior west front steps (with blocks holding up porch)

11. Interior first floor rear east wall

12. Interior first floor north side (exit door)

13. Interior first floor south side

14. Interior downstairs basement (from south stairs)

15. Interior downstairs basement south side (white block fireplace)

16. Interior south side stairs to side entrance and downstairs basement

17. Interior south side stairs (wood stair with pipe railing)

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AVON ISLE ADDENDUM

Technical Issues

1. USGS Avon Topographic Quadrangle Map (7.5-munite series). Response: (see enclosed map, marked in pencil)

Statement of Significance

1. Inquiry as to possible French Colonial style influence in the architecture of the Avon Isle dance pavilion.

Response: Although the exterior design of the Avon Isle dance pavilion bears some resemblance to the rural vernacular French Colonial forms of the Louisiana area (McAlester and McAlester 1997, pp. 120-127), no verifiable connection with that part of the country has been identified after extensive interviews with local historians and long-time residents of the area. Also, the time period of the French Colonial forms of the southern Mississippi valley (1700-1860) does not match with the construction period of the Avon Isle dance hall.

Being built in the mid-1920s, the architectural style (particularly the hipped roof and pillared porch) has elements of the Prairie style also illustrated by McAlester and McAlester (1997, pp. 436-451). Also, the Prairie style (1900-1920) fits the time period much better than does the French Colonial style.

2. Inquiry as to possible French background of Avon inhabitants.

Response: Again, extensive interviews with local historians and long-time residents, as well as inspection of directories for the first half of the twentieth century, failed to reveal any knowledge of French families in the area and only one possible French surname. English, German, and eastern European names were the most common. The single French surname, DeMuth, belonged to a mechanic at Detzel's Garage located at 32994 Detroit Road in Avon, Ohio (Lorain County, Ohio Directory for 1948).

3. Inquiry as to name of the township change from Troy to Avon.

Response: The town, which is now known as Avon, Ohio, is part of Township No. 7 of Range 16 of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Pierpont Edwards became the first proprietor of this township, along with the Bass Islands in Lake Erie, at the Connecticut Land Company draft of 1807.

The town was originally settled by Wilbur Cahoon in 1814. At that time, the Black River where it passes into Sheffield Township (the next township west of Avon) was the boundary line between Cuyahoga and Huron Counties. Township No. 7 in Range 16 was placed under the administration of Dover Township in Cuyahoga County.

Interestingly, the first permanent settlers in what is now Avon called their community Xeuma, but Cuyahoga County officials later referred to it as Troy. Local historians have surmised that the name Xeuma came from a classical city in Greece, but inspection of The Columbia Gazetteer of the World (1998) revealed that no listing for a community with this name occurs anywhere in the world.

On October 27, 1818 Township No. 7 was set off from Dover Township by the Commissioners of Cuyahoga County and organized as a separate township with the name of Troy.

When Lorain County was first formed in 1824 from parts of Cuyahoga and Huron Counties, it was noted that there was another Troy Township already organized in neighboring Ashland County. Also, another Ohio community in southern Miami County with a larger population already had the name Troy. In order to avoid confusion in the delivery of mail, postal officials requested a name change for the Troy in Lorain County. Thus, in December 1824, upon the petition of 40 citizens, the Commissioner of Lorain County changed the name from Troy to Avon. (Wright 1916, p. 101).

4. Inquiry as to the origin of the name Avon.

Response: According to Henes (1978, p. 86), "The name [Avon] doubtless reproduces the eastern name of Avon, New York and Connecticut, both of which stem from Avon, Massachusetts. The word `avon' comes from the Welsh `afon', meaning river."

Because the town was settled on French Creek, the largest tributary to the Black River, this stream may have influenced the naming of the town. Another likely explanation is the fact that the Moon family, prominent early settlers, migrated to Ohio from Avon, Connecticut [not Avon, New York?] and this influenced the naming of the township as is similarly documented for neighboring Sheffield Township (Burrell 1971).

5. Inquiry as to possible Louisiana, Creole, or French heritage influence on the builder, F. J. Roth.

Response: No Louisiana, Creole, or French heritage connection has been determined for the builder or early owners of the Avon Isle dance pavilion property.

6. Inquiry as to the origin of the name French Creek.

Response: From the late 1600s through the mid-1700s, independent French fur traders traveled a circuit of Indian villages along the shores and tributaries of Lake Erie gathering pelts for trade goods such as cloth, knives and ax blades (Ellis 1974, p. 112). The Indian villages of the Black River valley and along its major tributaries were most likely in this trade network.

When the first English settlers arrived in 1814, tradition has it that the aboriginal population spoke to them of the Frenchmen and the watercourse that brought the traders to the what is now Avon. Legend also has it that the first settlers found human remains and French military buttons at the Avon Isle site. In any event, the newcomers began referring the stream where they built their first sawmill as French Creek (personal communications, Taylor J. Smith, president Avon Historical Society and Jean Fischer, Historian, Avon Historical Society, January 8, 2009).

7. Inquiry as to naming of the French Creek District.

Response: The name French Creek as a commercial district of Avon goes back to at least the mid-1800s. In 1824 the French Creek Tavern was built in the area that would later become the French Creek District. The Lorain County Atlas for 1874 includes a special insert map for French Creek businesses and residences within Avon Township (see enclosed copy).

The French Creek commercial district appears to have its origin with the first permanent settler, Wilbur Cahoon, who purchased 686 acres of land on French Creek where it cuts through North Ridge (present day Detroit Road). In October 1814 the first of three Cahoon homes, a log house, was constructed on the east bank of the creek. Shortly after Cahoon built a sawmill on French Creek, south of North Ridge, and later added a gristmill (Henes 1978, p. 23).

By 1856, other pioneer industries flourished in the French Creek valley, including four water and two steam sawmills, three asheries (potash factories), two blacksmith shops, one gristmill, one brickyard, and one shoe shop (Frost 1935, p. 156). On the French Creek commercial district map in the 1874 Atlas, numerous stores, factories, mills, churches, schools, and residences are depicted, as well as a hotel (Lake 1874).

Many of these establishments were built to process raw materials produced by the settlers. The early factories were powered by water from French Creek, but as the forests were destroyed, the flow became irregular and the mills could not operate (Smith 1974, p. 70). However, the French Creek District has continued as a commercial center to the present time.

8. Inquiry as to newspaper articles and other documents reporting on the Avon Isle dance pavilion.

Response: (see enclosed)

1. Advertisement flyer (September 28, 1875)

Handbill announcing The Avon Agricultural Fair at the Fair Grounds at French Creek

Note: First record of an event being held on the grounds of the present Avon Isle.

2. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (May 28, 1912)

Advertisement for Avon Beach Park, F. J. Roth, proprietor

Note: This picnic park on the Lake Erie shore at Avon Lake, Ohio appears to be an early venture of F. J. Roth, who would later operate Avon Isle in Avon, Ohio.

3. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (September 26, 1917)

Announcement for Red Cross benefit dance at Island Park Hall

Note: This hall appears to be a forerunner to 1926 Avon Isle at the same location.

4. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (November 4, 1922)

Avon by Miss Irene Gough

Note: An announcement of a basket ball game between Avon High School and Belden High School at Island Park Hall.

5. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (July 19, 1924)

Advertisement for Avon Park, F. J. Roth, proprietor

Note: Name changed from Island Park to Avon Park and offerings expanded to include: bookings for outings, dinners, clambakes, as well as dancing 3 days a week.

6. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (June 4, 1925)

Advertisement for New Avon Park, F. J. Roth, proprietor

Note: Pildner's 6-piece jazz orchestra plays Sunday and Thursday nights. Buses every hour from Lorain, Ohio.

7. Lorain Journal (October 22, 1926)

Avon Named for Shakespeare tho after a Struggle by Mrs. J. J. Weiler

Note: A fanciful article on the naming of Avon and French Creek, which cannot be supported by any other known documentation.

8. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (November 4, 1926)

Advertisement for Avon Park Pavilion

Note: First time "Pavilion" used to describe the Avon Park facility, which appears to coincide with construction of the new dance hall on Avon Isle at French Creek, Avon, Ohio. Ben Schubert's Orchestra performs Sunday nights.

9. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (July 12, 1934)

Article on activity at Avon Isle Park

Note: Members of Stitch & Chatter Club held a picnic at Avon Isle Park.

10. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (May 15, 1936)

Advertisement for a dance at Avon Island Park

Note: Avon Pioneer Club announces a dance at Avon Island Park featuring Mountaineer Orchestra.

11. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (January 29, 1938)

Advertisement for dance at Avon Island Park

Note: Admission 25¢.

12. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (September 14, 1938)

Advertisement for dance at Avon Island Park

Note: North Ridgeville & Avon 4-H Club sponsors a dance at Avon Isle Park; Elsie Biltz's Avon Aces furnish music. Club announces for dances every other Thursday.

13. Lorain Journal (November 1940)

Blood Once Ran on Avon Soil by Mrs. J. J. Weiler

Note: A fanciful article, by the same author as October 22, 1926 article on the naming of Avon, that relates a supposed battle between French soldiers and Indians at Avon Isle Park, which cannot be supported by any other known documentation.

14. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 26, 1946)

Advertisement for dances at Avon Isle Park

Note: Dances every Sunday night, music by Gene Sharick's Orchestra with Hank Jackson, caller.

15. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (November 9, 1946)

Advertisement for dances at Avon Isle Park

Note: Dances every Sunday night, music by Gene Sharick's Orchestra with Hank Jackson, caller.

16. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (August 23, 1947)

Advertisement for dances at Avon Isle Park

Note: Dances every Sunday night, music by Gene Sharick's Orchestra with Hank Jackson, caller.

17. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (April 29, 1950)

Advertisement for dances at Avon Isle Park

Note: Dances every Saturday and Sunday night, music by two orchestras.

18. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (July 26, 1951)

Announcement for a picnic at Avon Isle Park

Note: St. Vincent de Paul parish to hold a picnic at Avon Isle Park. Music by a polka orchestra from Cleveland.

19. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (June 22, 1955, p.11)

Early Avon Buildings Remain by Norma Higgins

Note: Article on Avon Isle Park and photograph of the pavilion were generations of Avon and area residents danced and enjoyed themselves.

20. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (January 10, 1958)

Announcement for an archery club membership drive at Avon Isle Park

Note: French Creek Bowmen's Club of Avon announces a membership campaign to start at Avon Isle Park.

21. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (September 10, 1958)

Announcement for VFW event at Avon Isle Park

Note: Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7035 announces a clambake to be held at Avon Isle Park.

22. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (March 2, 1959)

Announcement for Public Auction at Avon Isle Park

Note: Robert Verity announces an auction of personal property to be held at Avon Isle Park Hall; C. H. Forthofer, Auctioner, Avon, Ohio.

23. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (May 29, 1959)

Advertisement for Avon Isle Park

Note: Avon Kiddieland Park at Avon Isle Park; all rides 10¢, open 1–9:30 pm daily.

24. Lorain Journal (January 13, 1973)

Their Life is a Square Deal by Bob Seltzer

Note: Article on the 50th wedding Anniversary of George & Elsie Biltz, band leaders and "callers" at area dance halls, including Avon Isle (see No. 12: Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, September 14, 1938).

25. Certificate of Recognition from City of Cleveland (October 3, 1977) Certificate awarded to George & Elsie Biltz, signed by Ralph J. Perk, Mayor

Note: Awarded in recognition of their musical service to Golden Age Centers

26. Avon Lake Press (November 25, 1987) At 61, the French Creek Isle Still Likes to Party by Marilyn O'Donnell

Note: Article on the history of Avon Isle based on interview with Jean Fischer, Secretary of the Avon Historical Society. Fischer later highlighted in green (actually marked out) the statement attributed to her concerning the battle during the French and Indian War as not being substantiated by any factual evidence. Article contains a 1952 photograph of the Elsie Bliltz band at Avon Isle and a 1987 photograph of the renovations underway to Avon Isle.

27. Lorain Journal (May 1988)

French Creek Isle Shines Anew by Norma Higgins

Note: Article documents renovations to Avon Isle by new owners and institution of a new name, French Creek Isle. Contains photograph (May 1988) of restored dance pavilion.

28. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (May 6, 1998)

Avon Parks Levy Passes: Barely by Mike Sakal

Note: Article on Avon parks, including city funds to purchase and develop Avon Isle; photograph of wood lot with the dance pavilion in background.

29. Lorain Morning Journal (Spring 2000)

Old Avon Landmark to Come Alive: Mayor Seeks to Restore Old Avon Isle by Sarah Fenske

Note: Article traces history of Avon Isle and describes plans to restore dance pavilion. Contains historic photographs of boxing match (early 1970s) and George & Elsie Biltz playing music at Avon Isle, as well as exterior and interior views (2000).

30. Lorain Morning Journal (June 22, 2000)

Rebirth of Avon Isle is Envisioned: Mayor Hopes to Revive, Revitalize the City's Historic Social Gathering Spot by John Stebbins

Note: Article traces history of Avon Isle and describes restoration plans for dance pavilion. Contains exterior and interior views (2000).

31. French Creek District & The French Creek District Development Association (2000)

Statement of French Creek District history (1992-1999)

Note: traces the development of the French Creek District as a civic and commercial center of Avon.

32. Cleveland Plain Dealer (January 16, 2002)

Hoping to Renovate Dance Hall into a Center for Avon's Seniors by Catherine Gilfether

Note: Article based in part on interview with Agnes Zilka, who painted a view of Avon Isle in 1988 (photograph of painting contained in article).

33. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 13, 2004)

Announcement for tour of Avon Isle Park

Note: Avon Historical Society announces tour of Avon Isle Park to enjoy fall colors; Bob Gates to lead a discussion of a possible Riverwalk for Avon.

34. Avon Lake Press (September 6, 2006)

A Grand Old Hall Stands Waiting to be Discovered, by John Edwards

Note: One of a series of articles on stops along a Scenic Byways Tour organized by the Avon and Sheffield Village Historical Societies.

35. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (January 15, 2007)

A Piece of Green History by Stephen Szucs

Note: Article on City Officials wanting to resurrect a fond memory: Avon Isle Park (photograph of pavilion and flowing French Creek contained in article).

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9. Inquiry as to historic photographs & illustrations of the Avon Isle dance pavilion.

Response: (paper only)

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Note: Continuation of photograph numbering scheme from Photo List, Page 10.

18. Map of pioneer industries of the Black River and French Creek valleys in 1856 (Frost 1935, p. 156).

Note concentration of early industries in the vicinity of Avon Isle.

19. Map of the southern portion of Avon Township in 1874, showing Detroit Road (North Ridge) and location of French Creek district (Lake 1874).

20. Detailed map of French Creek district of Avon Township in 1874, showing location of commercial, civic, and residential buildings (Lake 1874). Avon Isle is located on the property of J. Lencen [John Lenzen] in a loop of French Creek west of the main intersection.

21. Photograph of Avon Fireman Festival at Avon Isle (circa 1947). Front row (l to r): Mike Zadorozny, Lee Hubbard, Charle Kempf, & Mike Miliseck. Center: Dorothy Gerbic of Avon, Miss Lorain County. Back row: Steve Alten, Del Kempf, Lenny Clawson, George Mitchell, Don Casper, and Al Reith. The 1946 Ford in the background was a raffle "giveaway."

22. Preparations for wedding reception of Al & Alma Snyder at Avon Isle (summer 1992). Pig roast at entrance to Avon Isle Pavilion.

23. Preparations for wedding reception of Al & Alma Snyder at Avon Isle (summer 1992). Tables set for reception in Avon Isle Pavilion.

24. Entrance sign at Avon Isle Park (summer 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

25. Front view of Avon Isle Pavilion (summer 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

26. South side view of Avon Isle Pavilion (summer 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

27. Front view of Avon Isle Pavilion from bank of French Creek (fall 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

28. Front view of Avon Isle Pavilion (fall 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

29. Detroit Road (SR 254) bridge over French Creek immediately upstream of Avon Isle Park (fall 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

30. French Creek valley at Avon Isle Park (fall 2005). Photograph by Charles E. Herdendorf.

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10. Inquiry as to Census population data throughout Avon's history.

Response: Avon was organized as a Lorain County township in December 1824. The estimated population at that time was at least 40 adult white males as single individuals or heads of a household, as that number of men signed a petition to the Lorain County Commissioners to have their community be known as Avon (Wright 1916, p. 132). In 1827 Avon's male white adult population was 83 (Elyria Independent Democrat, July 30, 1873).

Wright (1916, p. 190) gives the following Avon Township population numbers:

1890 1,769

1900 2,024

1910 2,148

DECENNIAL CENSUS OF POPULATION, 1900 TO 2000, BY PLACE Avon City Avon Lake City

2000 11,446 18,145

1990 7,337 15,066

1980 7,241 13,222

1970 7,214 12,261

1960 6,002 9,403

1950 2,773 4,342

1940 2,118 2,274

1930 1,826 1,610

1920 1,460 904

In 1911, the residents of the northern portion of Avon Township voted to form the incorporated Village of Avon Lake. The remaining portion of the township was incorporated as the Village of Avon in 1917 (Smith 1974, p 71). In 1960 Avon's population exceeded 5,000 and the Village of Avon became the City of Avon .

Additional References

Burrell, Doris Salome (ed.). 1971. Sheffield. Lorain County Metropolitan Park District, Elyria, OH. 23 pp.

Ellis, William Donohue. 1974. Land of the Inland Seas: The Historic and Beautiful Great Lakes County. American West Publishing Co., Palo Alto, CA. 285 pp.

Frost, R. B. 1935. Lorain, Ohio: A Study in Urban Geography. Ohio Journal of Science 35(3):139-238.

Henes, Ernie C. 1978. Looking Back on Lorain County. Southern Lorain County Historical Society, Wellington, OH. 89 pp.

Lake, D. J. (surveyor). 1874. Atlas of Lorain County, Ohio. Titus, Simmons & Titus, Philadelphia, PA. 73 pp.

Smith, Jack. 1974. Avon. In: Daniel Staskiews (designer), Lorain County Sesquicentennial 1824-1974. American Multi-Service, Elyria, OH. pp. 70-72.

Wright, George Frederick. 1916. A Standard History of Lorain County. Volumes I & II. Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL. 1062

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2010 continuation sheets

Narrative Description

SUMMARY:

The 50-by-70-foot dance pavilion known as Avon Isle is located in Avon Isle Park at 37080 Detroit Road in Avon, Ohio. The City of Avon owns the park, and the now vacant pavilion. Constructed in 1926, this one story building with low hip roof and columned porch conveys an overall sense of the French Colonial revival. With few exceptions, the exterior and interior of the building are unchanged from their original construction. Currently, Avon Isle is in good condition although some repairs are needed.

SETTING:

Avon Isle Park is located on the north side of Detroit Road, west of State Route 611, within an area of Avon known as the French Creek District. Surrounded on three sides by French Creek, the 4-acre park is encircled by woodland consisting of mature deciduous and coniferous trees. Avon Isle dance pavilion is situated on a nearly 2-acre parcel within the park. The only access to the property is from Detroit Road via a one-lane bridge. State and local funds have recently been appropriated to reconstruct the bridge. Currently, there is ample parking available on Detroit Road just south of the bridge.

A sawmill was built in 1854 adjacent to the present location of the pavilion. At that time, a deep raceway channel was dug to increase the velocity of water to the waterwheel. This construction turned the Avon Isle property into an island. The raceway channel has since been filled making the property a peninsula.

EXTERIOR DESCRIPTION:

Avon Isle was built as a dance pavilion and community gathering place in 1926. This one-story rectangular, wood-frame building (50 by 70 feet) features a moderately pitched truncated-hip roof with a centrally located, four-sided cupola. The exterior walls of the entire building consist of painted horizontal clapboard siding. The rear of the building has a quarry-face sandstone foundation with a full basement, while the front is suspended over a crawlspace supported with stone piers.

The front-facing west façade (photo 3) has three bays; two 12-over-12-double hung windows with wide painted wood casing which flank a centrally located double door. The west façade also has a full-length porch and shed roof supported by six round, unfluted Doric columns. The columns serve as supports on half-height, painted wood clapboard side walls. The porch is approximately four feet above ground level and is supported by stone piers.

The south side (photo 2) has five bays, each with a 12-over-12-double-hung window, above four 8-light basement windows and an attached gable-roofed shed with entrance door. A single-story shed-roof storage shed projects from the foundation with no fenestration and an entry door on its east side. The south façade chimney is not original, having been built of brick when a new furnace was installed in the basement within the past 10 years.

The east side (photo 4) (back) has two bays, each with 12-over-12-double-hung windows, an original brick chimney and an entrance door to the basement level.

The north side (photo 5) has a continuation of the front porch roof and six bays; three 12-over-12-double-hung windows, two smaller 3-over-3 fixed or casement windows and an entrance door which appears to have been either altered or placed at an unknown time. A small wooden landing with wooden stairs and rails provide access to the entrance.

The walls are constructed using balloon wood framing. Overhanging boxed eaves with attached gutters surround the perimeter of the building. The roof is a dual-pitched, normal sloped hip roof covered with coursed shingles. The basement is constructed of square cut, quarry-face sandstone with window openings.

Narrative Description (Continued)

Avon Isle has undergone very little physical change in its 84 years; it retains the major features of its design and function. All large double hung windows are original, as is the horizontal clapboard siding. The original color was most likely white, but is currently painted a medium gray-blue. Window and door openings are in their original location except where noted; however, the front doors have been replaced.

The original main entrance was a wooden double door, painted gray with a row of small transom windows at the top (interview with Jessie M. Root, October 31, 2008). This door was replaced at an unknown time. The cupola was used for ventilation, air circulation, and natural lighting. The cupola windows have been covered with wood to conserve heat, but they are still intact. The front porch is weather-beaten; the whole building needs a coat of paint. New shingles were put on the roof in 1989.

INTERIOR DESCRIPTION:

With a few minor exceptions, the interior of Avon Isle remains remarkably unchanged since its construction in 1926. The two floors of Avon Isle contain two separate personalities. The first floor is a large open room with the original wooden dance floor while the basement has a cement floor and stone walls.

The first level is an open expanse; the original wood floor is illuminated by sunlight pouring in through the large double hung windows (photos 11, 13). Inside, the hardwood floor is scuffed and the mirrors are clouded from age.

The ceiling follows the roofline to the top of the building; however, a temporary drop ceiling was installed in the mid-1990s to conserve heat. A carpeted stage, located symmetrically along the north wall, is another notable interior feature (photo12). Two beveled glass mirrors flank the stage.

A wide staircase, including a ground-level landing with an exit door, leads to the lower basement level (photos 16, 17). The cement floor in the basement shows evidence of water that has leaked in through a crack in the foundation (photo 14). There is a large stone hearth on the south wall (photo 15), and a storage room on the north wall of the basement. A long wooden bar once stood along the east wall; however, it has since been removed. Restrooms were installed in the basement in the 1940s.

Narrative Statement of Significance

Avon Isle is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A, due to its association with events that made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of social development for Avon and the surrounding communities. Its period of significance begins with its construction in 1926 and extends until 1959, when regularly scheduled dances ceased, although other community functions continued on-site until the 1970s.

For over 50 years, the building served as the hub for recreational and social activities for Avon and surrounding communities. It represents the transition from localized family and neighborhood recreational gatherings traditionally found in rural agricultural regions in Ohio to larger more public events resulting from increased density in population and made possible by improved technology and transportation. The building is architecturally intact and remains in its historic setting within Avon Isle Park.

The building is important to the history and development specifically of Avon; however, it is also significant in a broader sense. This building represents a recreational pattern that was observed in Ohio and across the nation. Historian Foster Rhea Dulles writes in A History of Recreation: America Learns To Play, that the emergence of an increasingly urban society brought about dramatic changes in recreational activities and their place in American life.

According to Dulles, informal country pastimes of the early nineteenth century were no longer sufficient for the growing demand for recreation outlets caused by "indoor confinement and the monotonous routine of so much city work" (Dulles, 85.) Avon Isles embodies the characteristics that make it an excellent representation of recreational dance pavilions associated with this early to mid-twentieth century American transition.

During much of the twentieth century, social dancing was a major recreational and social activity. During the peak years between the 1920s and the 1950s, there were over 150 dance halls accessible to Greater Clevelanders, not including several hundred more dance floors in hotels, nightclubs, and private halls. These included facilities extending in the east to Conneaut Lake Park, PA; in the south to Meyers Lake Park, Canton. OH; and in the west to Cedar Point Amusement Park, Sandusky, OH.

Although cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles had larger facilities, Greater Cleveland became well known to musicians and bandleaders as a place to develop with a chance to move into a position of national prominence (Encyclopedia of Cleveland History website; Nesbitt 2002).

Public recreational dance began to gain popularity at the turn of the century and the increase continued after the end of World War I. It was within this social framework that Avon Isle dance hall was constructed in 1926. Avon Isle was one of hundreds of dance halls that sprang up early in the twentieth century in Ohio.

Naturally, many dance halls were built in proximity to newly popular amusement parks as well as established outdoor recreational locations. Some of those constructed in Ohio included the Moonlight Ballroom, built in 1926 at Myers Lake Park in Stark County (burned 1979) and Minnewawa Dance Hall at Sandy Lake Amusement at Sandy Beach Park built in ca. 1920 and razed in 1982.

Larger parks also constructed dance halls, such as the one at Idora Park in Youngstown which burned in 2001 after a long period of neglect, the Colonial Ballroom at Put-In-Bay which was rebuilt after a 1988 fire and the Moonlight Gardens at Cincinnati's Coney Island Park, damaged by several floods and finally rebuilt in 1985. Unfortunately, the decline of small, family run amusement parks which looked dated and grimy next to mega-parks popularized in the 1970s and 80s doomed many of these dance halls to neglect and subsequent demolition.

While Avon Isle was contemporary to these dance halls, its grounds never housed permanent amusement park rides, but retained a natural park-like setting, a factor that may have contributed to its continued function and survival.

Avon Isle Park is located in the City of Avon within Lorain County, Ohio. The Park consists of a historic Avon Isle dance pavilion surrounded by a tree-lined meadow and the sandstone gorge of French Creek. Situated at the center of a once rural community, it was a natural gathering place for the community. The property is historically important due to the social, recreational, and educational events that took place at the location of Avon Isle. These events made significant cultural contributions to the history of Avon and the surrounding communities.

Avon Isle rests on land once believed to have offered Native American Indians a secure campsite because the land was surrounded on three sides by the French Creek, leaving only one side to guard.

This land may also have been a battleground during the French and Indian War (1750s). Some 100 years later (circa 1854) during the excavation to build a steam sawmill on a lot adjacent to the Avon Isle property, workers found French military buttons along with human remains. In order to increase the velocity of the water to the mill, a deep channel was dug next to the sawmill rendering the Avon Isle property an island. The sawmill was closed and the channel filled in, but its scar still may be detected on aerial photographs (interview with Jean Fischer, July 5, 2007).

The town, which is now known as Avon, Ohio, is part of Township No. 7 of Range 16 of the Connecticut Western Reserve. Pierpont Edwards became the first proprietor of this township, along with the Bass Islands in Lake Erie, at the Connecticut Land Company draft of 1807. The town was originally settled by Wilbur Cahoon in 1814. At that time, the Black River where it passes into Sheffield Township (the next township west of Avon) was the boundary line between Cuyahoga and Huron Counties. Township No. 7 in Range 16 was placed under the administration of Dover Township in Cuyahoga County.

The first European settlers called their community Xeuma, but Cuyahoga County officials later referred to it as Troy. On October 27, 1818 Township No. 7 was set off from Dover Township by the Commissioners of Cuyahoga County and organized as a separate township named Troy.

When Lorain County was formed in 1824 from parts of Cuyahoga and Huron Counties, it was noted that there was another Troy Township already organized in neighboring Ashland County in addition to another community in Miami County. In order to avoid confusion in the delivery of mail, postal officials requested a name change for the Troy in Lorain County. Thus, in December 1824, upon the petition of 40 citizens, the Commissioner of Lorain County changed the name from Troy to Avon. (Wright 1916, p. 101).

Avon was settled primarily by two diverse groups of people. Early in the nineteenth century Protestant New Englanders were the first to arrive, followed by Bavarian Catholics in the 1840s. This religious separation prevailed for decades and even extended to the schools so that social contact between these groups was limited, a divide that continued into the post World War I era.

Like many towns in the region, Avon was a farming community. In 1875, the Avon Isle grounds hosted the Avon Agricultural Fair which showcased locally raised horses, sheep, cattle, swine, and poultry as well as locally grown farm products and domestically produced textiles and handmade goods. This typified local gatherings which served both educational and social purposes for the rural population. Farmers would gather to discuss agricultural and technical issues and at the same time socialize with friends and neighbors. Similarly, other social interactions were local affairs; families and neighbors gathered at homes to play games, share food, play music and dance.

However, by the turn of the century the growth of industry, transportation, and communication brought significant changes to Lorain County and Avon. Farming and agriculture declined as the population transitioned to non-agricultural occupations made possible by improved transportation and developing industry.

This cultural shift resulted in the evolution of localized community dances, traditionally held in private residences, barns or schoolhouses, to more public events in spaces specifically built for recreation and dance. Nationwide, the pursuit of leisure and recreational opportunities resulted in the development of commercial and public amusement parks which often included ballrooms or dance halls.

By 1905, for instance, the nearby Cedar Point amusement park advertised 12,000 square feet of polished dance floor in their newly constructed Mammoth Dance Hall, along with their other state-of-the art amenities. At the same time, the American public eagerly embraced new technology which resulted in widespread availability of the radio, phonograph and moving pictures. These venues exposed rural America to a more diverse music and dance experience than they had previously experienced and contributed to rise of the `Dance Craze' of the early 1900s.

Avon Isle provided the ideal setting, and perhaps the only local one, where young people as well as adults from the historically disparate groups that settled the community could mix, get to know each other, and begin to understand the culture of their neighbors.

Although it was built during the Prohibition Era, no evidence has emerged to indicate that Avon Isle was used as a `speakeasy' where illegal alcoholic beverages were served (interview with Jessie M. Root, October 31, 2008).

Rather, and perhaps more significantly, Avon Isle was a gathering place for area residents without regard for religious, political, or social affiliations. The fashionable music of this period complimented traditional square and polka dances popular with the ethnically diverse population of the region and offered a unifying force. (Nesbitt 2002; interview with Gladys Wisnieski, October 29, 2008). In this way Avon Isle served to consolidate the social fabric of Avon and provide a neutral place to discuss issues of mutual concern in an informal setting.

In the 1920s, the pavilion was used primarily for dances which were held on regularly scheduled nights and movies were shown on other nights. The nearby cities of Elyria and Lorain had banned dancing on Sundays, so frustrated residents went to the Avon Isle to dance.

The events at Avon Isle were so popular that the bus schedule included hourly routes from nearby Lorain to accommodate the patrons. (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram .1927,July 16) Events included dances sponsored by local organizations such as the Pioneer Club, 4-H Clubs and St. Vincent de Paul as well as music by local and regionally known big band and polka orchestras. In addition to dances, church groups or social clubs rented the hall on weekends for fund-raising, recreational events or outdoor picnics. (oral history interview with Tom Tomlin by Rhonda Newman; July 27, 2007)

Avon Isle continued to provide a venue for local and regional recreation even as popular styles of dance transitioned from ragtime to jazz to big band swing. It also continued to host events sponsored by local organizations such as the Stitch and Chatter Club's picnic, advertised in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram on July 12, 1934 and the North Ridgeville and Avon 4-H Clubs who advertised an upcoming dance on September 14, 1938 in the same publication.

The popularity of recreational dance continued, evidenced by advertisements in the local papers for as many as five competing dance hall events on the same page. (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. October 26, 1946) When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, a bar was installed and alcoholic beverages sold in the basement of Avon Isles. Big bands, including Guy Lombardo, played there in the 1940s.

According to Avon and Sheffield residents, "the Isle," as it was known, was a favorite place to go in the 1950s to enjoy square dancing (interviews with Agnes Zilka, January 16, 2002 and Gladys Wisnieski, October 29, 2008). A local couple, George and Elsie Biltz, became legends in the Avon area for the way they led the lively square dances.

For 18 years, George played the fiddle while Elsie pounded away on the piano. Elsie's piano remained at Avon Isle until the early 1990s, and a set of drums from "the Isle" is still on display in an Avon antique shop (interviews with Jack Moir, October 30, 2008 and Gladys Wisnieski, October 29, 2008).

Agnes Zilka recalled, "on Saturdays and Sundays, if you didn't get there early, you'd be lucky if you got in there." She remembered that one night a patron complained about being tired from all of the dancing. When she suggested that he sit out a dance, he replied, "yeah, but when you start the music, I can't keep my feet still anymore."

Gladys Wisnieski recalls taking the South Lorain to Cleveland bus with her sister Maggie to Avon Isle dances in the 1940s. They boarded the bus at the corner of Abbe and French Creek Roads for the 15-minute ride to Avon Isle for a fare of 10 cents. Gladys remembers laughing and dancing all night long with the Avon boys, but they had to be sure to catch the last bus home when the dance hall closed at 1 a.m.

The Avon Fire Department held their festivals on the grounds of the Isle in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. Carnivals, complete with "kiddie" rides, were held there in the 1950s for children of all ages. By the 1960s the dances had stopped, however, the grounds and building were still very much a part of the community.

In 1964, Avon was 150 years old and Avon Isle was headquarters for the city's Sesquicentennial celebration. One resident remembered the celebration was held over a long weekend and likened the event to a festival, "there were a lot of organizations, they had booths, they sold food, and they had a beard growing contest, and anyone that was clean-shaven they locked them up, they had a little jail over there, you had to donate to charity, they were ahead of their time" (interview with Tom Tomlin, July 26, 2007).

In the 1970s, amateur and professional boxing matches, such as Golden Gloves, were held at Avon Isle. Avon's Mayor, Jim Smith, participated in many amateur boxing matches at Avon Isle during that period of time. He was called the "clipper kid" which was a reference to his work as a barber (interview with James Smith, July 23, 2007). Mayor Smith recalls that there would be up to 15 fights in one night, including a main event match. Some fights were between neighbors and residents of the city who had an argument or problem with each other. Mayor Smith says, "The place was packed by the end of the night because everyone wanted to see who was going to win."

Throughout the 1970s, Avon Isle was also used for wedding receptions, picnics, clambakes, bingo, and quilting parties (interviews with Betty Blair, July 25, 2007 and Jean Ackerman, July 20, 2007). "It was always a community meeting place in one way or another" says Avon resident Jean Fischer.

Since the 1980's the building had been used as offices for the parks and recreation department, yoga classes, and pom-pom team practice. Currently, the building is vacant and not in use. Avon Isle is an increasingly rare example of a community dance hall and pavilion.

This building is worthy of protection and efforts are underway to restore and to ensure that the area remains a central location for community activities, as it has for decades. Although no definite plan has been formulated, the City of Avon would like to restore the building for use as a community center; the grounds could be used as an outdoor family entertainment area.

The City of Avon has recently received $50,000 in funding from the State to be matched by $50,000 in local funds to replace the one-lane access bridge to Avon Isle Park. Avon Mayor Jim Smith recently stated, "With a building this size, anything is possible.

The possibilities are limitless with this place. The building does need a lot of work and repairs, but the memories are still intact from the times that I went there. We want to create our own new set of memories now."

As noted by Stephen C. Gordon, former Survey and National Register Manager for the Ohio Historic Preservation Office in his letter to Ralph White of the Avon Historical Society on January 6, 2006, "After carefully considering the information [supplied by the Avon Historical Society] we believe the property has merit for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

The property appears to meet National Register Criterion A, built in 1926, is an intact and increasingly rare example of a community dance hall and dance pavilion." Therefore, the Avon Historical Society is pleased to nominate Avon Isle for the National Register of Historic Places based on Criteria A: "properties can be eligible for nomination by being associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history." The Avon Isle is clearly associated with the broad pattern of social development in the City of Avon.

The historic importance of Avon Isle has been recognized by two local organizations. In 2003, by a referendum vote, the citizens of the City of Avon established a Landmarks Preservation Commission charged with conducting a survey to create a register of Avon's historical landmarks. In 2004, Avon Isle was nominated for and accepted as one of the 218 [as of 3-1-10] properties on the Avon Landmark Register.

A bronze plaque was presented by the Commission to the City of Avon in 2005. In 2006, the Lorain County Historical Society's Preservation Network and the Lorain County Commissioners developed a Historic Landmark Program to identify historic sites and structures in the County. At the Lorain County Commissioners' meeting on November 16, 2006, Avon Isle was recognized as one of seven sites to initiate the program and was awarded a bronze plaque to be displayed in the structure.

OWNERSHIP HISTORY:

All of Avon Township (Township 7, Range 16 of the Connecticut Western Reserve) was owned by Pierpont Edwards. He purchased it from the Connecticut Land Company, circa 1814. The Avon Isle grounds passed through several owners before F. J. and Anna Roth bought it in 1924. In 1926, they improved the setting by building the dance pavilion. They retained ownership until 1933 when Julius Barbier purchased it. The property was transferred to Isle Properties in 1984, then to AMR Development (Jack Moir) in 1987, who sold it to the City of Avon in 1997 for $285,000.

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