Lorain County History Center

Historical Society to Create County History Center
in 149-Year-Old Washington Avenue Mansion
LCHS Opens County History Center in 155-Year-Old Washington Avenue Mansion


ELYRIA, OH (April 27, 2012) — The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) is pleased to announce the opening of  the Lorain County History Center, located at 284 Washington Avenue, Elyria, Ohio.  A Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be held on its front lawn on May 11, 2012 at 2 p.m. After the ceremony, the History Center will open to the public. Souvenirs will be given to the first 100 visitors attending.  The History Center’s opening weekend hours are Friday 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Mother’s Day Sunday, May 13 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Attending the Dedication and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be LCHS Director Bill Bird, State Senator Gayle Manning, State Representative Matt Lundy, Mayor Holly Brinda, LCHS Board Members and Staff, along with many others.


Executive Director, Bill Bird said about the opening, "At The Hickories, we are preserving a wonderful building and presenting a house museum which interprets the lifestyle of an early 1900’s family of means. At the History Center, we will continue to serve our preservation mission since this building was originally slated for demolition. However, our usage of the new space will be totally different in that we created a museum in a house, which will provide many valuable resources and educational opportunities for people to learn about the history of the entire county."

This center will be set up so that visitors may self-guide throughout the themed exhibits currently on view.

The Lorain County History Center regular hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $5 per adult and ages 13 to 18, $3.00 and children 6 to 12, $2.00 (Children under six and LCHS Members FREE). Group tours of 10 or more are welcomed and are $4 per adult. Please call LCHS at (440) 322-3341 to schedule a tour.


Become a member of LCHS and visit the History Center for free. Visit LCHS.org to join. Membership levels include $35 for family; individual $25; sustaining $60; patron $125; and heritage $250. Join an affiliate group such as the Women’s Association for $10 or The Elyria Historical Association for $5 with an LCHS membership.  


The Lorain County History Center contains seven new galleries for exhibits, the Johnson Library, new administrative offices and a gift shop. In addition, there is a significant increase in storage space, which will allow LCHS to continue to collect and properly preserve important county artifacts and archival materials well into the future. Two floors of the facility will be open to the public and each will have Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility. One of the major exhibit galleries will be dedicated to rotating exhibits provided from local historical societies in Lorain County as well as local industries and even private collectors. Appropriate climate, lighting, and security controls have been provided in all exhibit galleries.

The Lorain County History Center located in the renovated Horace Starr House, a large Italianate-style mansion. It, along with its carriage house were both built in 1857 and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission approved $500,000 for the portion of the project that included installation of an ADA-compliant elevator and restrooms; installation of an HVAC system; electrical and plumbing updates; and interior and exterior repairs and painting, including restoration of both masonry and wood details.

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Lorain County History Center Background


On January 24, 2002, the Board of Trustees of the Lorain County Historical Society voted to enter into negotiations for the purchase of the former Horace Starr mansion, located at 284 Washington Avenue, for the purpose of creating a new Lorain County History Center. The purchase was completed in July of 2003.  The plans for this new museum space were on display during a reception held for LCHS members and guests in October of that year. This large Italianate-style mansion, built in 1857, is the oldest surviving structure on Washington Avenue, Elyria, Ohio. Both the house and its carriage barn are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


This is one of the two most significant decisions ever made in the 123-year history of the Society. The acquisition of The Hickories in 1975 has provided an important base of operation for their work since that time. The development of this new property offers a tremendous potential to expand LCHS's services to the citizens of Lorain County. LCHS is now able to fully embrace its mission by creating a History Center where it can preserve, interpret and present the history of all of Lorain County.


The LCHS Board approved a $1.6 million Capital Campaign to finance this important cultural facility. The co-chairs of the Campaign were Fred Pond, CEO of Ridge Tool Company and Ken Rothgery, Esq. of Rothgery and Associates, LLP. Important contributions were pledged from local companies including Ridge Tool Company, R. W. Beckett Corporation, Bettcher Industries, and others. Funding has also been received from the LCHS Board of Directors and staff along with numerous private donors. Late in 2003, the Society was the recipient of a $300,000 appropriation from the State of Ohio through the efforts of the late State Representative Jeff Manning. An additional $200,000 appropriation from the State was awarded in 2008 through the efforts of State Representative Matt Lundy. In July of 2011, 100% of the original Capital Campaign goal was achieved. 


The Lorain County Historical Society currently has over 500 members and is governed by a Board of 14 Directors. It is designated by the IRS as a 501(c) 3 non-profit educational organization and operates on a current annual budget in the range of $175,000. Using a small staff and dedicated volunteers, the LCHS collects and preserves numerous artifacts and archives significant to the county's history and provides an extensive educational outreach program to schools as well as to many community organizations. In addition, The Hickories Museum hosts over 2000 visitors annually. 


At this time, LCHS is appealing to the entire Lorain County Community to help us complete the Capital Campaign goal. Any and all contributions will be gratefully accepted. Permanent donor recognition will be provided in the building for all gifts of $500 and higher. This includes individual naming plaques for all of the major rooms in the facility as well as an attractive donor recognition sculpture, which will appear in the central hallway. Pledge payments may be divided over a three-year period.
Any resident, business, or organization interested in helping create the new Lorain County History Center is urged to contact Executive Director, Bill Bird, at (440) 322-3341. A descriptive brochure describing the project is available at the Society's offices in The Hickories at 509 Washington Avenue in Elyria.