10 4, 2020

Travel to Eliot Ness’ Cleveland

By |2020-10-04T13:00:14-04:00October 4, 2020|

Travel back to the era of Untouchables and learn about Eliot Ness’s tenure in Cleveland.

Eliot Ness served as Cleveland’s Safety Director for Mayor Harold Burton during the years of 1935 to 1941. In these short years, Cleveland went from the most dangerous metropolis in America to winning a National Safety Award.

Photos and stories reveal the Eliot Ness that you won’t get from the movies – because, in this case, the truth is more fascinating than fiction.

The speaker is local historian, author and all-around Eliot Ness expert Rebecca McFarland. McFarland is a fourth-generation Clevelander who has given hundreds of talks on Ness and discussed him on A&E’s Biography. She’s also the person who ensured Ness’s final resting place would be in Cleveland, as McFarland herself spread his ashes in Lake View Cemetery.

To watch more videos on local history:

09 22, 2020

Discover Lake Erie ‘Riverside’ shipwreck

By |2020-09-22T06:00:08-04:00September 22, 2020|

Explore a sunken schooner and discover the great storm that downed it during an online program we’re hosting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Presenter Kevin Magee will discuss the storm of 1893 that sunk the Riverside in Lake Erie. All seven of its crew members and payload were lost on the way to Kelleys Island. More than a century late, the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE) located the shipwreck about 25 miles off of Cleveland. See photos of the preserved wreck and learn more about this remarkable ship and storm during Magee’s talk.

This program is free to watch and will be broadcast via Zoom. Registration is required. You can sign up online or call us at (440) 255-8811 ext. 247.

For more on local shipwrecks, watch our interview with shipwreck hunters and authors Georgann and Mike Wachter.

03 6, 2020

Discover the history of the Terminal Tower and Cleveland’s Union Terminal

By |2020-03-06T06:00:07-05:00March 6, 2020|

For nearly a century, the Terminal Tower has loomed over Cleveland’s skyline. But what do you know about the landmark?

Presenters Rebecca McFarland and Tom Pappas will share fascinating information about the Tower and the brothers who built it – along with the railroads that used this shiny, new terminal recently at our Main Branch.

Cleveland was still a boom town in the 1920s. Much of this progress was tied to the building of the Terminal Tower by the Van Sweringen brothers. The brothers saw a future in rail shipping and made certain that Cleveland was positioned to benefit from the building of a big, new terminal that welcomed commerce and personal travel.

More local history:

 

 

12 19, 2019

5 Facts about the Garfield Family & Mentor Public Library

By |2019-12-19T06:00:24-05:00December 19, 2019|

We’re fortunate to be neighbors with the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. They lead a monthly a Civil War series at our Main Branch and are a wonderful resource to have nearby.

Moreover, the Garfield family has a long history of supporting Mentor Public Library. As part of our 200th anniversary celebration, we invited Lucretia Garfield and James R. Garfield – the wife and son of President James A. Garfield, respectively – to the library to discuss that history.

Granted, both Lucretia and James are posthumous. So we did the next best thing and enlisted Debbie Weinmaker of WeMadeHistory to portray Lucretia and Alan Gephardt of Garfield National Historic Site to play her son on Saturday at our Main Branch.

We’ve filmed their talk in its entirety to share with you; but, if you’re somewhere that you can’t listen to audio, here are five of the most fascinating talks from their presentation:

1. The Mentor Library pre-existed the Garfield family’s involvement but its whole setup would be odd to us nowadays. In 1819, the Mentor Library Company formed, but its collection of 79 books was only available to shareholders who paid $2.50 per share.

The notion of a Mentor Library – free to use for Mentor Township and Mentor Village residents – was the dream of James R. Garfield. Garfield (the son, to be clear) was elected president of the library’s board in 1890, and he served in that role until 1927.

In the meantime, he was involved in state and national politics and served as Secretary of the Interior during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration.

2. Before the library had its own building, it was housed in Mentor Village Hall.

The Garfield family wanted the library to have a home of its own – complete with a reading room. To raise money for the library, the Garfield family hosted “entertainments,” including:

The most lucrative entertainment was a melodrama starring Mary “Mollie” Garfield and entitled “The Sleeping Car.” It raised $107.15.

They raised another $11 by auctioning a cake. James R. Garfield had the winning bid, but he had to borrow $10 because he only had a dollar in his pocket at the time.

3. In May of 1895, the Mentor Village Council raised a half-mill levy to support the library. It provided the library with $160 a year, rendering the entertainments superfluous and paving the way for Mentor Library’s first building.

The architect was, naturally, another member of the Garfield clan. Abram Garfield, Lucretia’s son and James R. Garfield’s brother, designed the building in the New England style.

The land was purchased from a Dr. Lester Luse for $2,200. When both land and building were totaled, the new building cost $7,693. At the time, it stood at the corner of Mentor Avenue and Center Street.

This first library building still exists, by the way. However, we no longer own it and it serves a different purpose now.

4. In 1926, toward the end of his tenure as board president, the library was renamed in honor of James R. Garfield.

The rebranding only lasted 24 years and the Garfield Public Library was renamed again in 1950. (This time, it became Mentor Public Library and the name’s stuck thus far.) But we still commemorate James R. Garfield and his contribution to the library. One of the meeting rooms in our Main Branch is named in his honor.

5. The Garfield family was immensely literate. President James A. Garfield understood both Greek and Latin and was rumored to be able to write both simultaneously. He especially enjoyed poetry by Alfred Tennyson and William Wordsworth and, as a child, had a fondness for books about pirates.

He and Lucretia would read to the children around the parlor table from Lamb’s Shakespeare and One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. They would often quiz their children’s spelling, using 7,000 Words Often Mispronounced in the English Language.

As for the son, James R. Garfield enjoyed the outdoors and spent what little free time he had fishing, hunting and playing tennis. But he still had a predilection for William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens novels as an adult.

Click here for more information on Mentor Public Library’s history and here for more on our year-long celebration of our 200th anniversary.

11 25, 2019

Jeffrey Stroup is your tour guide through ‘Abandoned Cleveland’

By |2019-11-25T06:00:00-05:00November 25, 2019|

Photographer and urban explorer Jeffrey Stroup has spent the last 15 years capturing pictures of Cleveland’s abandoned factories, mansions, malls, churches, and more. He’s collected his best images in his new book, Abandoned Cleveland.

Stroup visited us earlier this month to share his photos and anecdotes from more than a decade of combing the forgotten parts of our region.

Afterward, we interviewed him and he offered advice for aspiring urban explorers and the single scariest thing that ever happened to him while investigating an abandoned building.

By the way, you can visit our YouTube channel for dozens of more interviews with authors, including bestsellers like Christina Baker Cline, Paula McLain, Karin Slaughter, and Bernie Kosar.

Go to Top