Lorain County Preservation Network

Dedicated to Protecting the County's Past to Ensure Its Future.

***To print the Historic Landmarks Application please click on the Historic Landmarks Application tab!

The Lorain County Preservation Network consists of organizations and individuals who work to build a preservation ethic among Lorain County property owners and public officials. Network members seek to advance the knowledge and skills of all network members to promote the preservation of historic structures as a significant component of Lorain County's future.

The Landmark Program was launched in 2006. Staff is always able to assist in the completion of an application or in conducting a preliminary review for possible eligibility. If your home, farm, or business has a story to tell about local or county history, give LCHS a call at 440-322-3341.

Lorain County Landmark Program Identification and Recognition

The Lorain County Historical Society has established a program to identify and recognize those buildings, structures, sites and districts that convey Lorain County history. The Lorain County Preservation Network and its participant organizations administer the program. *

Building owners must either be the applicant or authorize the applicant to submit the application. The program will recognize listed landmarks as a contributor of the history of Lorain County, its communities and townships. There are not restrictions on use or alterations attached to this designation. Designation does not convey any property rights. Designation is the owner's recognition for the property and its place in local history.

A committee of network participant organizations will determine property eligibility. The committee will meet at least twice a year, with additional meeting if warranted. When applications are denied staff will explain the decision and action needed to reverse the decision.

An eligible decision will be based on three criteria:

  1. Age: More than 50 years. Documentation will be required.
  2. Significance: Tells a story of the past and contributes to our understanding of community, architectural, industrial, biographical, or other history relevant to the county's past. A property can be significant for its builder, owner, neighborhood, business or other story that can be documented.
  3. Integrity: The building's ability to convey to the observer the characteristics and qualities of the era for which it is significant.
A plaque, designed to convey the building's significance to Lorain County history, will be available for purchase by the owner. Once designated the Lorain County Historical Society will not monitor the property to determine its continued eligibility. If informed that a building is no longer eligible the Historical Society will send a letter to the owner stating the reasons for the withdrawal of eligibility and request that either the plaque be removed or steps be taken to restore eligibility. The building will be removed from the list of county historic landmarks. No further action will be taken.

The Lorain County Historical Society and local historical societies maintain valuable documents and information that will assist applicants with research on their properties. Applicants are encouraged to contact these organizations for assistance. Network staff will be available to view the building and discuss its potential for eligibility. 

***To print the Historic Landmarks Application please click on the Historic Landmarks Application tab!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I Find Out How Old My House Is? Who Built It?

There are a number of resources you can use to determine the age, identification of the builder of your house is more difficult and often dependent upon luck.Two principle sources of information are available: land title records in the first floor office of the County Recorder at county administration building at 226 Middle Avenue, Elyria; and tax records at The Gates Building, 320 North Gateway Blvd, Elyria. 

Any information you can bring to the county records about past owners and dates of their ownership will make your research much easier. You may want to begin by talking to neighbors or asking the seller of your house. Other resources include city directories and plat maps. You can search city directories for Lorain, Elyria, Oberlin or Avon at the LCHS library, and many are held at local libraries. These publications listed addresses and the names and occupations of the occupants, not always the homeowner. Another resource at the LCHS Hick's Library is plat maps. These can often be helpful, particularly in the rural areas.

At the county office the staff can be very helpful, so do not hesitate to ask. What you want to do is trace title on your home. Since 1973 the records have been computerized, otherwise you are working in handwritten books. The earliest owner you know and their dates of ownership are where you begin; when they bought the house they were the grantee so that is where you start your search. From there you are working backwards, owner by owner.

One very difficult issue can be the distinction between property ownership and house construction. The original house on your property may have burned or been demolished, if so neighborhood or family stories and newspaper research at the library can provide that information. Knowledge of basic house styles and their periods of construction is also helpful. 

The first purchaser of your property probably bought an empty lot and construction happened after purchase. Here your only real tools are length of ownership and sale price. If someone bought the lot and sold it within two years at a price significantly above that of the original purchase, it is fairly safe to assume they built the house.

Other resources that may be valuable are at the Elyria Public Library, many of which are also available at the Lorain County Historical Society:

  • The Lorain County Atlases of 1857 and 1874 have every name indexed and dwellings outlined on the maps. 
  • The 1896 Atlas provided names (not alphabetical) for dwellings as well as biographies of important businessmen and their holdings.
  • City and county directories can trace addresses and residents and census records can provide names of residents.
  • The Early Records of Lorain County Ohio, First Tax Lists of Real Estate and Personal Property, Year 1824-(R929.3 LOR) lists the house value. 
  • Indexes to the Ohio Tax Duplicates of 1810, 1825 and 1835 list property owners responsible for taxes. 

Other books in the Elyria Public Library's Ohio Room (located at the Washington Avenue branch) that could provide help are: 

  • Architecture of the Western Reserve, 1810-1900. R720.973 Ca53A
  •  Homes and Gardens of Early Elyria, C1947 R977.123 R257H
  •  Preserving Our Past,C1977 R720.9771 LOR

The Chronicle-Telegram is on microfilm and can be useful but a specific date is needed as there is no index. Articles on homes are few and far between.

The search is rarely easy but always worthwhile. Putting together the history of your home adds personal value to it and enhances your ability to adapt it to contemporary needs. Good luck.

What is the National Register? Can I get my house onto the Register? What will it mean if my house is listed?

The National Register of Historic Places is the United States Department of the Interior's list of properties recognized as worthy of preservation for their local, state or national significance in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering or culture. The National Park Service establishes the guidelines and standards for the National Register, and the program is administered by each state historic preservation office.

There are three evaluation standards that properties (building, structures, sites, objects and districts) must meet to be listed on the National Register: the property must be 50 years of age, retain its basic integrity, and meet one of the criteria for significance. The criteria for significance are: 

  • association with broad patterns of history
  • association with persons significant in our past
  • have architectural merit
  • have potential to yield information about our past (archaeology)

You can receive a short two-page preliminary questionnaire from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office at the Ohio Historical Society. A copy of the form is available here at the LCHS. After you complete and submit the form you will receive useful information about your property's potential for listing and what research you need to pursue. 

Listing on the National Register entitles you to place a plaque on your home to identify it as a property significant in American history. An income-producing property, listed on the National Register either individually or as part of a historic district, may be eligible for a 20% federal tax credit if the rehabilitation work is certified to meet the Secretary of the Interior's standards.

If your National Register listed property becomes involved in any project that has federal funding, such as rehabilitation as a low-income housing project, it will need to go through federal review to try to avoid adverse impacts. 

Listing on the National Register does not prevent the owner from taking any specific action with their building, such as remodeling or repairing. The state historic preservation office will, upon request, provide you with information on how to perform your rehabilitation while respecting its historic integrity; the LCHS also has much of this information available.

For further information contact LCHS's preservation staff or visit the Ohio Historical Society's Historic Preservation Office web site: http://www.ohiohistory.org/resource/histpres/.

Is there financial assistance available to me to rehabilitate my house?

Currently there are no programs to provide financial assistance to rehabilitate homes in Lorain County. Cuyahoga County has a program called the Heritage Home Program that offers low-interest loans combined with free technical assistance that can include the writing of specifications for work. Talk to LCHS preservation staff  about efforts to initiate this program in Lorain County.

Is there a plaque program for my house?

Currently, the only plaque programs available in Lorain County are the National Register of Historic Places, Lorain County Preservation Network Landmark Program and Oberlin's Historic Landmark program. LCHS has plans to initiate such a program in the near future; please inform staff of your interest and any thoughts you have about the development of this program.