Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back to Ohio

Although I was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio I've been living in Chicago for the past 17 years.  Sometimes I feel like a tourist when I go back to visit family.  This isn't always a bad thing. It makes me reevaluate some of the things about Lorain that I've always taken for granted.  And somehow I've acquired another Ohio hometown-- Ashtabula, where my wife grew up and where we visit Felix and Theo's grandmother. This post is a visual record of our visit over the week of the Fourth of July.

This is an old Quonset Hut in Saybrook, OH, repurposed as a storage building.  I'm surprised how many storage buildings are found in rural areas.  Doesn't everyone have enough space?  Perhaps it's just an easy way to get some return on a large building without having to add many improvements.  Quonset huts were perfected during WWII-- easy to construct and easy to remove when no longer needed.  This one has been made permanent with a concrete "skirt" poured around the perimeter.

I believe this is an old Pure Oil Service Station which has been altered and covered with vinyl siding.  Angela tells me that it used to be a gun shop, but it looks like it's been vacant for some time.  I think this is also in Saybrook.

This is a concession stand from Geneva-on-the-Lake.  This the low budget 1920s resort strip that I've written about (and drawn) before, but it still fascinates me.  If we ever move back to northern Ohio I think it would make a good research project.

 To the left is a detail from the Bridge Street District in Ashtabula.  There's  a great collection of Italianate and Queen Anne style storefronts here,  remnants of a more prosperous time.  If there was any justice in Ashtabula this would be the most popular shopping district in the county.  You can almost feel it struggling to become the alternative to the strip malls that pass for commercial districts everywhere else.

I believe this is a grain depot in Austinburg, just down the road from our hotel.  I've never been sure of how these things work.  Somehow grains are lifted to the top of the apparatus and a separated into different grades in various containers.  They probably would be surprised if I asked for a tour.

 This is also in Austinburg.  Judging by the Greek Revival style I have to place this around 1850, if not earlier.  Due to a pesky fire in 1871 it's not possible to see buildings of this age in Chicago, although you can still find some in the suburban areas.  It looks vacant.  Even the trailer parked in front to sell overstock fireworks looks pretty run-down.

So finally we get back to Lorain, which made its reputation as a major steel city on Lake Erie.  The steel mills are still in South Lorain, but they're a shadow of what they once were.  This is a view from 28th Street.  I remember the mountains of purple iron ore that would be unloaded from enormous ships docked on the Black River.  Not as much of that anymore.

Here are some storefronts at Grove and E. 30th Street, not far from where my sister lives. They look vacant, but sometimes it's hard to tell.

And here's my last image of Lorain. A lone brick and frame cottage with bay windows. It looks like the storefront has been converted into a bar.  A very dark bar.  I'm not likely to walk into a dark bar, but maybe I'm not their target customer.


  1. I firmly believe you should ask for a tour wherever and everywhere you go. :p

  2. It does help if you have small kids. You can always blame them for demanding to know more. Next time.

  3. time for a book. Defense housing alone would fill a scholarly niche.

  4. It would. But it might end up as a history of bureaucracy, and I'm not sure I could take that.