Ohio State Historic Maker Ceremony at Ridgelawn Cemetery

Elyria, OH (September 17, 2016) — The Lorain County Historical Society will be holding a brief ceremony and unveiling of an Ohio State Historic Marker at the Ridgelawn Cemetery at 1 p.m. on September 20, 2016. This marker is to indicate the final resting place of Edgar "Daddy" Allen and detail some of his many accomplishments. The ceremony at the cemetery will occur near the corner of Ridge St. and Gulf Rd. The public is invited to attend.


Touchscreen Technology has come to LCHS

Elyria, OH (August 31, 2016) — The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) has incorporated new interactive devices into its exhibits with the use of touchscreen computers at the Lorain County History Center, located at 284 Washington Avenue, Elyria. The three new devices will help LCHS better present the history of Lorain County with its visitors by interacting on a new level.

The first touchcreen computer is found upon entering the Reception Gallery. It invites visitors to learn more about the family who originally lived in the Starr House and other Lorain County history. This touchscreen displays information in a quiz-like format. This enables the visitor to learn new facts in a fun and informative way.

The second touchscreen is located in the Rotating Gallery. Currently, the touchscreen displays information on the General Industries exhibit. This information is presented in a slide show format enabling visitors to touch through photos, advertisements, timelines, manuals, and other exciting information about General Industries.

The third and newest location of the touchscreen device is located in the revised Lorain County Education exhibit. This touchscreen explores the beginning of many schools in Lorain County from one-room school houses to the birth of public high schools. This comprehensive slide show expands upon the many artifacts and posters about the creation of the wonderful educational systems of Lorain County.

History at the Lorain County Historical Society is only a touch away. Come and explore and learn about Lorain County today at the Lorain County History Center, 284 Washington Avenue, Elyria, Ohio.

General Industries Exhibit

 The General Industries Exhibit located at the Lorain County History, 284 Washington Ave., Elyria has been a huge success. Many members and guests of the LCHS have come in to tour this fascinating and informative exhibit. The majority of display items were donated by Jim Callihan, the longtime Senior Vice President of the General Industries.

The following is some information regarding a new exhibit at the Lorain County History Center:

The General Industries Company traces its history back to 1903 when it was founded as the Dean Electric Company.  It was an era of new 20th century technologies – many of which eventually reached into the house and life of the average family in America.  Thus it was that among the products made by Dean Electric were telephone switchboard systems and automobile horns.

Ever the innovator and entrepreneur, Arthur Garford and the Garford Manufacturing Company acquired the Dean Electric Company in 1914. Although he remained as president of Garford Manufacturing Company until 1918, the firm was sold to the Heineman Phonograph Supply Company of New York in 1915 which also acquired A.F. Meisselbach Company of Newark, New Jersey, maker of fishing reels and phonograph motors.  In 1919 the company name was changed to General Phonograph Corporation and by 1921, the Meisselbach and phonograph motor operations all had been located in the Elyria factory.

The 1920s were important for the product development of the company.  The decade began with General including spring-wound phonograph motors in its offerings and ended with electric phonograph motors being made.  In 1923, the firm’s International Insulating Division began the production of plastic items.  Then, in 1925 the Elyria operations became known as the General Industries Company Division of General Phonograph Manufacturing Company.  By the late 1930s, the General Phonograph Corporation was dissolved and the corporate name became General Industries Company until that firm’s demise in 1994.

The 1930s and 1940s saw a range of production and manufacturing innovations occur at General Industries. Output of phonograph record changers for Zenith and Capehart began in 1932.  Then, injection plastic molding began in Elyria in 1936.  Along with electric motors, the plastics were important products for the company as it met the challenges of World War II and the postwar era. Therefore, that RCA 45 RPM record player you had may well have had both its motor and plastic case made by General Industries.

Although injection molding operations were moved to the company’s Marysville, Ohio plant in 1953, from 1953 until 1994 compression molding of plastics continued in Elyria with the making of shower stalls and utility sinks. Along with the plastic products, General Industries became a highly respected maker of electric AC motors used in household items such as frost-free refrigerators, typewriters, and ice cube makers.  Ford Motor Company used General Industry car heater motors.  From plastic horn buttons to electric windshield wiper motors to power seat motors, the company was a major supplier to Chrysler Corporation.

There are two parts to the final chapters of the General Industries Company in Elyria.  After being acquired by the Walco Corporation in 1964, it later was acquired by Industrial General Corporation in 1986 and then declared bankruptcy in 1994.  Then, on July, 2008, the former General Industries plant at the corner of Taylor and Olive Streets in Elyria was destroyed in one of the worst fires in the history of Elyria.

Come and visit the General Industries exhibit at the LCHS History Center.  Allow yourself a moment of nostalgia as you look at the company’s products from fishing reels to phonographs. Through the items on exhibit and a series of computer videos, drop back in time and see how General Industries and its predecessors contributed to the industrialization of America and the modernization of the items we use every day from automobiles to refrigerators.

The exhibit consists of items from the LCHS collection including a very substantial gift of products, photographs, and corporate records of General Industries recently donated by former Elyria resident James Callihan, who worked for General Industries from 1952 to 1990 when he retired as the company’s Senior Vice President.


LCHS Has Hired Education Coordinator Anne Michael

ELYRIA, OH (December 28, 2015) --I love animals and have 2 dogs and 4 cats at this time! We lost a 3rd dog last June.  I have been married to Jim for 31 years and luckily he loves animals too so  we have always had pets! I have two daughters, who both live in Lorain. Mary, the youngest has 3 boys, aged 11, 6, and 1. We love to go the zoo together. I have tried to instill in them the love of reading and they love to use my iPad, too.

In a family of four girls, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama but my parents moved us to the Philadelphia Pa. area soon after where 2 sisters were born. When I was in 3rd grade we moved to Findlay, Ohio where another sister was born. I graduated from Findlay High School and went to college one year at DePauw Univ. and then transferred to BGSU where I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Education. I taught English and Drama in a small district outside Findlay before moving to the Elyria area. I worked in the Children’s Room of the Elyria Public Library for 11 years while getting my Masters Degree in Education at Kent and then went to work for the Elyria Schools as a Media Specialist becoming head of the department for the last 10 years. I worked at different elementary schools throughout the 30 years I was with the district. I was an adjunct professor for Ashland and taught grad classes for other teachers. I retired in 2013 and started volunteering for the suitcase programs for the Lorain County Historical Society a year ago. I came to work here last May and have enjoyed learning many of the programs and visiting schools.

I belong to several women’s groups and book clubs. I love to read and I have several hobbies like knitting and stamping that I don’t do often enough anymore. I love to bird watch and go to Sandy Ridge to walk and see birds as often as I can.  I try to swim several times a week even in the cold weather. I volunteer for the First Congregational Church food pantry and help organize their yearly rummage sale even selling some items on eBay for them. I love eBay and have bought and sold many items for myself, too! I am a Cleveland Browns and Indians fan though it is hard to be a fan these days. I used to have season tickets to the Browns in the old stadium. A group of friends and I attend Broadway plays in downtown Cleveland and other shows when we can get together. I thought I knew a lot about the area until coming to work here and have learned that there is a lot to learn!

Major Acquisition

ELYRIA, OH (August 30, 2013) — The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) is pleased to announce that it has added to its collection a fabric and leather saddle bag used by Artemas Beebe (a member of one of the founding families of Elyria, Ohio) in the 1820’s to pick up mail from Cleveland, Ohio on horseback and deliver it to the Elyria Post Office. The saddle bag was handed down through his family and finally to a family friend whose daughter eventually donated it to the Elyria Post Office. The bag was on display in the Elyria Post Office lobby for several years. This year the Elyria Post Office decided to give it a permanent home at the Lorain County Historical Society.

Please join us for a photo opportunity on Thursday, September 5, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. at the Lorain County History Center, located at 284 Washington Avenue, Elyria, Ohio when Mike Gosnell of the Elyria Post Office will formally present the saddle bag to LCHS Director Bill Bird. Please contact LCHS at (440) 322-3341 if you plan on attending.

The importance of this acquisition lies in the fact that it will be one of the oldest Elyria artifacts in the LCHS collection. In addition, the Beebe name is arguably the next most recognizable name, after Ely, in the founding days of our town. The saddle bag is a very interesting connection between these two families as Heman Ely was Elyria’s first Postmaster and Artemas Beebe was bringing the mail back to turn it over to Ely at the Beebe Tavern.  An original mantle from the tavern is already on display and the saddle bag will be displayed near it as part of a “Beebe Corner” in the Lorain County History Center. 


New Board Members Elected in May 2013

The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) is pleased to announce that during the Annual Meeting held on May 15, 2013 at the Elyria Country Club, four Director Candidates were elected to serve on the LCHS Board for the 2013-2016 term. Current Directors Robert Ebert and Earleen Helman, were reelected for another three year term and new Director Candidates, Jeff Nieberding and Stephen S. Vanek, were also elected to serve on the Board. 

The Lorain County Historical Society Receives the Prestigious Preservation Merit Award for the Lorain County History Center

ELYRIA, OH (November 4, 2012)The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) is pleased to announce that it was presented on November 3, 2012 with the prestigious Preservation Merit Award for its preservation of The Lorain County History Center from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) of the Ohio Historical Society at their 31st annual OHPO Awards Luncheon in Columbus, Ohio.

The Lorain County History Center, located in the renovated Horace Starr House, is 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. It opened to the public on May 11, 2012.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office Awards have been presented annually since 1983 and recognizes achievements in historic preservation by presenting awards in two categories: Public Education and Awareness and Preservation Merit Award. The Preservation Merit Award is for preserving Ohio’s prehistory, history, architecture or culture.

Bill Bird, Director of The Lorain County Historical Society says, “We are extremely pleased and proud to receive this award for our work on the Horace Starr House! This award is particularly meaningful because the criteria was based on our ability to follow the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for restoration of a National Register property. In addition, the judgment of our ability to accomplish this with the Starr House was made by the OHPO who’s staff are experts in the field of historic preservation. I wish to give special thanks to LCHS Board Member Bob Ebert for his work in helping to prepare the application form for this award and much appreciation to Gary Fischer of Arkinetics, Inc. whose expertise in the area of historic restoration resulted in the breathtaking transformation which one views when entering the History Center today. ”  

The Lorain County History Center 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 and children 6 to 12, $2 (Children under six and LCHS Members FREE). Group tours of 10 or more are welcomed and are $4 per adult.

For more information please contact LCHS (440) 322-3341. For more information on the Ohio Historic Preservation Office Awards, please visit




Lorain County Historical Society 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 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, a research 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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LCHS Receives Funding




ELYRIA, OH (December 22, 2011) — The Lorain County Historical Society (LCHS) has received a $13,000 grant from The Community Foundation of Lorain County to continue its Educational Outreach Program during 2012. This support will fund the work of Education Coordinators Janet Bird and Jim Smith and the Lorain County Preservation Network as they provide programming related to preservation and local heritage. Director Bill Bird said, “We are very pleased that the Community Foundation of Lorain County continues to recognize the value of our Educational Outreach to Lorain County’s citizens and we are deeply appreciative of their financial support for LCHS.”