Long Live Local


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Another year has ended and we are the beginning of a new one.  They pass by faster and faster, it seems.  That is the great beauty of a new year.  It is an invitation to us to recreate ourself.  It presents an opportunity for us to remake ourself or at the least push your personal evolution.  A recent study said most New Year’s resolutions are broken by March. While that statement is probably true and while we have limited control over many aspects of our lives,  one experience can change you.  Making that choice will further your education and expand you.  For 2019 make the resolution to travel.  Plan a trip right now for each month.  Even if all your other resolutions fall through, your planned trip remains.  Make it local, that is Lake County based, dining out in nature with a spice of local history included.  Here is but a small county sampling.  Food and a bit of local Western Reserve - County history awaits you.


Rider’s Inn- Joseph Rider arrived in the area in 1803.  Lodging being of primary importance he constructed the first Inn in 1810.  Moved to its current location in 1812, the structure was in time remodeled by noted architect Jonathan Goldsmith.  Civil War history is important to the Rider story too. The Rider family lived on site thru 1902.  Purchased and renamed the Lutz Tavern for a brief period of history, Rider’s Inn returned as a place for lodging and food many decades ago.


Hellriegel’s Inn- Benjamin Blish, a veteran of the American Revolution arrived in N.E. Ohio in 1805.  Within three years he bought a farm and his family remained here thru 1897.  Tax duplicates indicate the current  inn footprint was built in 1847 or 1863. Frank W. Hart bought the property and renamed it Cherry Farm in 1898.  1928 saw Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Hellriegel of Madison acquire the building after their Roadside Inn (1918) was destroyed by fire in 1927.  Food and U.S. Presidential history await patrons daily.


Brennan’s Fish House- 102 River Street in Grand River has a history dating back 160 years.  A fish processing plant was located across the street from this early lodging spot.  The current parking lot was at one time 10 housing parcels owned by local fishermen families. Much of the early history of lot 32 is sullied and left for another day.  A hotel in 1903, it was bought in 1917 by George Evans who added a restaurant to the site.  In 1968 locals recall it was bought and affectionally known as Harry’s.  The Brennan family acquired the restaurant in 1974 and kept it thru the early 00s.  Its popularity remains today for those who enjoy perch and seafood.


Steele Mansion - George Steele, a local businessman constructed and lived in the mansion from 1867-1900.  Until 2010 the mansion served Lake Erie College as a presidential home, student housing and campus offices.  For a brief era in history the third floor ballroom was the college gymnasium. Fire and neglect almost ended the historical property’s future.  However the Shamakian Family bought the remnants of the Steele Mansion in 2010 and have restored it to its former grandeur. Lodging, fine dining experiences and even a guided history tour by the owners await visitors.


Match Works Building - One of Mentor’s iconic structures dates back to 1867 when it was the site of the first factory.  Opened in 1868 it was the home of Hart Nut & Washer.  In 1891 Mentor Knitting Works called the factory home.  1938 saw Columbia Match Company begin a 17 year run. Production Machinery Company claimed the factory in 1955 and remained till 1979.  Since 1980 the former factory has been home to many retail businesses, mostly studio galleries and local restaurants.


Rasmussen Deli- Located across from the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse, the former Deli of Civil War veteran, USLSS keeper, mayor and police chief N. Rasmussen is now home to the Fairport Family Restaurant.


Downtown Willoughby - Nine blocks and more than 65 buildings await dining visitors in 2019. Architecturally the flat roofs, cornice or brick facades tell the story of the Cleveland-Painesville Eastern Railway (1890s-1927), Willoughby Hardware, Marshall Drug, F.W. Woolworth and more.


Encores Possible:

Sawyer House - dating back to 1843, this endangered home has been home to nurserymen and many local restaurants.

Unionville Tavern - perhaps the county’s oldest original food establishment it began in 1798 as a log cabin. Its hey-day in the 1840-50s coincided with the UGRR and Civil War era.  As a local eating establishment Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were notable guests.


Submitted by Dan Maxson

            Local Lore by Max - The News-Herald Community Media Lab, 2010-2016

            Trustee / Curator - FHHS / Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Marine Museum

            Curator / Docent - Old Stone School, Concord Township