Mission & History

The Lorain County Historical Society collects, preserves, and shares the history of Lorain County, Ohio to educate and inspire present and future generations.

LCHS's vision is to be a respected hub of learning about history, where all people are encouraged to discover and develop a passion for the past, engage in relevant study and educational experiences, and make history a meaningful part of their lives.

Staff Members:
Kerri Broome, Executive Director
Amanda Davidson, Education & Tour Coordinator
Eric Greenly, Archivist
Donna McGuire, Collections & Research Assistant
Pam Monschein, Office Manager

Board of Directors:
Sam Battle
Margaret Brooks-Terry
Kathryn Dean-Dielman, Financial Officer
Robert Ebert
Gary Fischer
John R. Handyside
Sara Hobbs, Vice President
Bonnie Ivancic, President
Jackie Kokai
Matt Nahorn
Jeff Sigsworth
Patrick Verburg
Marilyn Wainio

Director Emeritus:
George Strom

The Lorain County Historical Society is an incorporated non-profit educational organization recognized by the State of Ohio and has tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. The society is governed by a Board of Directors, who are responsible for making policy and for overseeing the financial and property assets of the corporation.

The Lorain County Historical Society was organized on January 26, 1889, at the home of Mrs. W. E. Miller by members of the Lorain County Centennial Loan Association. The latter was formed in 1888 to develop an exhibit of objects representative of Lorain County for display at the Ohio Centennial Celebration in Columbus in 1888. The efforts of this group of women sparked an interest in the preservation and exhibition of objects and materials from the county's pioneer period. Their stated purpose in forming the historical society was to collect, and provide a safe place for papers, documents, biographical sketches and objects pertaining to Lorain County, the several townships therein, and the pioneer and other residents thereof, together with any articles of an archaeological character, and such aboriginal and other relics as are worthy of preservation. 

Between 1889 and 1920, the society collected objects and materials relative to the county's early history; and it periodically exhibited same in a local residence in Elyria, rooms in the basement of the County Courthouse, and in the Old Elyria City Hall. In 1927 a fire in Elyria's City Hall destroyed a large part of the collections. In 1947, several area residents, including Professor Robert S. Fletcher of Oberlin College and Katherine Garford Thomas, led a successful effort to revitalize the organization. Under their leadership the society became incorporated in 1958 and received tax-exempt status from the IRS in 1965. 

In 1954 the society rented space in the former home of George G. Washburn at 334 Washington Avenue for exhibiting artifacts and for offices. In 1964, the society purchased the Jack Hannaford house at 331 Fifth Street for a museum and remained there until 1975, when the former mansion of local industrialist, Arthur L. Garford, at 509 Washington Avenue, was purchased. Garford's home, the Hickories, continues to be operated as a museum by the society and contains office spaces for staff.

Between 1947 and 1988, the society also secured title to several other properties threatened by demolition. These included an early one room school in Elyria, the Sally Bronson House in Columbia Station, the Cahoon House in North Ridgeville, the Lorain Lighthouse, and the Laundon House in Elyria. All of these properties, except for the one room school, which was too badly deteriorated to save, have been transferred to other groups or individuals and are serving useful functions today. 

The society currently provides educational programs and activities to varied audiences throughout Lorain County. These include lectures, workshops, museum tours and outreach programs (traveling suitcase, slide, PowerPoint, and living history presentations), and publications. With the development of the Lorain County History Center in the historic Starr House on Washington Avenue in Elyria, the society increased its ability to extend its programming to Lorain County citizens. The History Center offers museum-quality exhibits and includes a research library that is open to the public. In addition, the society has sponsored the development of a local genealogical chapter, a countywide preservation network, and a collaboration of all historical and genealogical organizations in the county.