02 18, 2020

Take a trip to Bomb City, USA

By |2020-02-18T06:00:00-05:00February 18, 2020|

Danny Greene

Danny Greene

Learn about the bloody war between Irish mobster Danny Greene and the Cleveland mafia during a special program at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 9, at our Main Branch.

The battle was so fatal and explosive that it left Cleveland with the moniker “Bomb City, USA”” during the 1970s. Dennis Sutcliffe of Lost Cleveland will be our guide back to this wild time.

The program is free to attend and open to all. Registration is required. You can sign up online of call us at (440) 255-8811 ext. 247.

By the way, if you’re interested in the history of the Cleveland mafia, we have some reading recommendations for you, including Rick Porrello’s new biography of racketeer Shondor Birns.

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.

11 6, 2019

Author Jane Ann Turzillo talks true crime, ‘Wicked Women’ & westerns

By |2019-11-06T06:00:06-05:00November 6, 2019|

Jane Ann Turzillo visited our library in October as part of our Mentor Mystery Month.

After her program, we chatted with Turzillo about how she researches historic crimes, what motivates her “wicked women,” and her love of photography and westerns.

Turzillo has written several books about Ohio’s criminal past, including Wicked Women of Northeast Ohio, Murder and Mayhem on Ohio’s Railsand Unsolved Murders & Disappearances in Northeast Ohio. You can borrow these and more of her books from our library.

By the way, you can see interviews with more of our Mystery month authors, including James Badal, D.M. Pulley, Vivien Chien, and Brad Ricca on our YouTube channel.

10 15, 2019

James Badal & Mark W. Stone on the Cleveland Torso Murders

By |2019-10-15T06:00:01-04:00October 15, 2019|

This month, we were fortunate to host two of the preeminent experts on the Cleveland Torso Murders. Those experts are:

They were kind enough to let us film their talk at our library, so we could share it with those who could not attend that evening. Watch and learn about this grisly crime spree, including who Badal and Stone think the Torso Slayer is.

Warning: This video includes several graphic crime-scene photos and may be upsetting to some people.

By the way, this talk was part of our Month of Mystery. Throughout October, some of the best mystery and true-crime authors will be speaking at the library, including:

  • Brad Ricca, author of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, the phenomenal true story of Grace Humiston, the first woman U.S. District Attorney, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17.
  • Jane Ann Turzillo, who will take us on a tour of the murderers, tricksters, train robbers, and more in Ohio’s wicked past at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

All of these author visits are open to all, free to attend, and require registration. Additionally, they’re all hosted at our Main Branch.

During our Mystery Month, you can also:

We also have mystery programs for all ages and at all of our branches, so visit our event calendar to see which intrigue you.

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