Monday, August 11, 2014

Elmer J. Frank, Musician, Instructor, and Conductor

Young Elmer Frank, with his parents, Julius and Emma
Elmer J. Frank was born in Sandusky in 1904 to Julius and Emma Frank, both of German descent. As a youth, Elmer studied piano with Elmer F. Steuk, a well known Sandusky piano instructor. In 1931 he went to Austria to study piano under Madam Bree. He also studied composition, harmony, and instrumentation under Johanna Muller Herman, and choral and orchestra conducting under Professor Julius Katay. Mr. Frank’s musical studies took him also to Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Italy, and Tunisia. During the summer of 1939 he was on a scholarship in Poland to study folk and classical music, and while there, Poland was conquered by Nazi Germany. Luckily he made it home safely. During World War II, he served for two years in the Panama Canal Zone with the United States Army.

Back in the United States, Elmer Frank was the organist and choir director for several churches. He also taught music for several years, having studios in the Odd Fellows Hall and later in the Feick Building. He organized the Sandusky Choral Society and the Sandusky Male Chorus, and served as the director of both organizations for many years. Later he was the director of music at the International School of Art, which was at 507 Wayne Street. 

Mr. Frank is the conductor in the group picture of the Sandusky Choral Society, taken around 1940 by photographer William Mound.

On April 14, 1961, Elmer J. Frank died at Good Samaritan Hospital. He had been hospitalized after an automobile accident six weeks prior to his death, but he died from an underlying illness. Funeral services were held at the Quick’s Funeral Home, where Christian Science Services were held. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery. On November 4, 1962, a Memorial Concert in honor of Elmer J. Frank was held at Adams Junior High School. Jay Perine, Tenor, provided musical performance, with William E. Didelius accompanying, assisted by Beryl Beckwith Dureck.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Postcards of Sandusky

In the historical postcard collection of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center are several postcards of Sandusky from years gone by. The first three postcards are from the early part of the twentieth century. This “bird’s eye” view of Columbus Avenue was created by the Alexander Manufacturing Company. The view in this postcard scans the eastern side of Columbus Avenue from the Cooke block to Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church.

This black and white postcard from the Pesha Postcard Company, owned by Louis James Pesha, also features Columbus Avenue. Several people can be seen along the busy business district of Sandusky’s downtown.

In this postcard, taken on East Market Street, looking east from the Cooke building, Sandusky’s Big Store was a key business in this section of town. Several horse drawn vehicles are visible along Market Street, as well as two youngsters standing near a cart.

Moving forward several decades, this postcard from the Rich Holt Company shows Sandusky’s downtown in the late 1960s.


Stores that were well known to many area residents are pictured, including Lasalle’s, J.C. Penney, the Gray Drug Store, and the Manhattan men’s clothing store.  

Monday, August 04, 2014

Floral Mounds in Washington Park

Floral mounds have been a popular feature of the parks in downtown Sandusky for decades. The mound pictured above, which was located near the Erie County Courthouse in 1910, contained an urn and was entitled “Flora.”  

This patriotic themed floral mound, sponsored by the Perry Post, No. 83, American Legion, was in the park sometime between 1910 and 1920. In the 1920s, the Perry Post of the American Legion was re-named the Commodore DenigPost, No. 83.

In 1917, another floral mound with a patriotic theme featured an eagle atop the globe, with a floral flag of the United States on the main portion of the mound.

OLEIDA (Ohio Lake Erie Island District Association), which promoted tourism in the 1930s, sponsored the floral mound in this picture.

In 1960, a mound honoring the 125th anniversary of the American Crayon Company was located in Washington Park, facing East Washington Street.


Local residents and tourists from all over the U.S. (and beyond) enjoy Sandusky’s beautiful parks every summer. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to see more historic photographs from Sandusky and Erie County.

Friday, August 01, 2014

A Look Back at the Hotel Rieger

The Hotel Rieger was opened by businessman John Rieger at the southeast corner of Jackson and Market Streets in downtown Sandusky in 1912. (The former hotel is now undergoing renovations in order to provide affordable housing units for area seniors.) The postcard pictured above shows the fifth floor addition which increased the room count of the hotel. In the postcard, you can see the former Third National Bank building on the east side of the hotel, and to the south of the hotel is the Odd Fellows TempleThe image below shows the hotel in 1917, before its expansion.

In this postcard below, from the Rich-Holt Company, the Hotel Rieger is pictured along with the Sloane House and the Boy with the Boot fountain in Sandusky’s Washington Park.
The picture below was taken in the lobby of the Hotel Rieger in 1926, shortly after renovations had been made to the hotel.

The Buckeye League Band marched past the Jackson Street entrance of the Hotel Rieger in the 1930s.

This picture shows an improved entrance at the Hotel Rieger in 1942.

According to an article in the October 17, 2004 issue of the Sandusky Register, Kermit Price bought the Hotel Rieger in 1964, and converted it to the Sandusky Nursing Home. The nursing home closed in 1989, and in 1992, Mr. Price reopened the building as the Sanduskian Hotel.. The building was sold in 1995. Since then the property has had several different owners, and currently the former hotel is under renovation by The Douglas Company. To read more about the history of hotels in Sandusky, read the StreetWise column, Hotels Rotated through Downtown Sandusky, which appeared in the July 13, 2013 issue of the Sandusky Register.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When the VFW Post 2529 was on Water Street

Before the Lowell C. Hein Post 2529, V.F.W.  opened its new home at 604 West Perkins Avenue in 1958, for a time in the 1950s the Post was located at 603 East Water Street, at the northeast corner of Water and Perry Streets. This spot had formerly been occupied by the Sandusky office of the Kelley Island Lime and Transport Company, and in the 1940s by the Billman Boat House. Much later the Surf’s Up Wave Action pool was built at the location; the site is now known as the Sandusky Bay Pavilion. In 1950, Robert Frank photographed  the officers of the V.F.W. for the 1950-1951 term.

An article in the April 7, 1950 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News reported that the new officers for the Lowell C. Hein Post 2529, V.F.W. included: Richard Heinz, Commander; Frank Silvania, Senior Vice Commander; Elroy Wild, Junior Vice Commander; Carroll D. Sartor, Adjutant-Quartermaster; Marvin Evans, Post Advocate; A.A. Moore, Surgeon; Richard Butler, Chaplain; and Alvin Adams, Trustee.

Officers for the Dads of Foreign Service Veterans were: Leo Watters, Sr., President; Alfred Uhl, Senior Vice President; James Shut, Junior Vice President; George Stan Smith, Secretary-Treasurer; Bernard McGory, Chaplain; Wilson McLaughlin, Judge Advocate; and William Wiedeman, Trustee. You can read more about the first fifty years of the Lowell C. Hein Post 2529, V.F.W.  in the September 19, 1982 issue of Sandusky Register. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Mill Race Ride at Cedar Point

Correction: This image is actually the Shoot-the-Rapids ride in Frontier Town at Cedar Point; similar, but not the same as the Mill Race.
The Mill Race, a log flume ride, opened in Cedar Point for the 1963 season. It was only the second flume ride of its kind in the United States. The ride cost $300,000 to build, and it was over 1200 feet long. Boats shaped like logs carried riders down a 28 foot hill, after following a winding track filled with water.  On a hot summer day, a ride on the Mill Race left riders cooled off by the water splashing them as traveled rapidly down the final hill. The Mill Race closed in 1993, to make room for the Raptor. 

To read more about the history of Cedar Point, see the book Cedar Point: The Queen of American Watering Places, by David W. and Francis (Amusement Park Books, 1995), available at the Sandusky Library. You can see the Mill Race in this aerial photograph of Cedar Point, taken by Thomas Root on May 25, 1968.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Graham Drug Store

The Graham family operated a drug store in Sandusky from 1845 until 1926. John A. Graham established the drug store, and was succeeded by his son W.A. Graham. The Graham Drug Store was at what is now 102 Columbus Avenue beginning about 1868.  In the picture above, from the late 1880s, the name W.A. Graham is on a sign above the store, and the name of Dr. A.J. Gawne appears on a window in an office on the second floor of the Graham building. 

An article in the Sandusky Register of March 15, 1915 reported that W. A. Graham “was one of the best known and best prepared druggists in this part of the state.” The Graham Drug Store building is featured in the Old House Guild’s Downtown Architectural Walking Tour of Sandusky, Ohio, which lists 1868 as the date the building was constructed.  Ellie Damm wrote in her book Treasure by the Bay, (Bucknell University Press, 1989), that the Graham Drug Store building was in the Second Empire style, constructed from limestone, and faced with sandstone.  Jay Meek operated a drug store at this location in the 1930s and 1940s. From the early 1950s through the late 1980s, the Echo Tavern did business at 102 Columbus Avenue. Daly’s Pub now occupies the building.

 See a previous Sandusky History blog post to view some trading cards that were distributed by the Graham Drug Store.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sandusky's Coal Docks

Sandusky, Ohio has long been known as having one of the finest and most well-protected harbors on the Great Lakes. Since the late 1890s, the transfer of coal from railway cars to vessels has been taking place in Sandusky. For many years, the Pennsylvania Railroad owned the docks at the foot of King Street on Sandusky’s west side, and the transfer of coal from the railway cars to ships was done by the employees of the Lower Lake Coal Docks Co. The Twin Anniversary Edition of the Sandusky Register and Star News, from November 24, 1947 featured an article which explained how the process of loading coal went from manually dumping coal from wheelbarrows to the ships, to a steam operated crane, and finally to machines that are electrically operated. The postcard below, by E.B. Ackley featured the electrically operated coal loader #3.

 Several ships can be seen in this 1937 photograph of the coal docks.

This picture taken by the Torow Studio in the late 1940s captures the view of the coal docks at night.

Currently, the Sandusky Dock is owned by Norfolk Southern Corporation, and is operated by the Sandusky Dock Corporation. The average loading capacity is over 2,600 tons per hour. After dark, the lights from the docks can be seen for miles, causing us to take note of this vital part of the Great Lakes economy.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Aerial of View of the Sandusky Drive-In Theater

According to an article in the May 24, 1948 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News, the Sandusky Drive-In Theater was slated to open at 9:15 p.m. on May 24, 1948. The single feature film on opening night was “Copacabana,” starring Groucho Marx. The movie ran at 9:15 and again at 11:15, along with short subject and news reels. In 1948, the Sandusky Drive-In Theater was owned and operated by the Seitz Amusement Company. The theater was located on a fifteen acre field on Cleveland Road, not far from the entrance to Cedar Point. The Selby Engineering Company erected a 60 by 58 foot steel tower, for a 39 by 52 foot screen. RCA supplied the speakers, enough for 608 cars.  There were also speakers for a row of seats in front of the automobiles, for individuals who walked in to view the movie at the drive-in. The Drive-In theater provided inexpensive entertainment, and people could dress very casually. Often children attended the drive-in theater in their pajamas. The Berlo Vending Company provided refreshments in a concrete building below the picture booth where the Simplex projectors were housed. In the 1950s, there were swing sets for the youngsters to enjoy while waiting the for the first movie to begin. Shows were changed three times a week, on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. The speakers were connected with waterproof wires, so that the movies could be shown even in rainy weather. Eventually there were double features shown at the Sandusky Drive-In.  The Sandusky Drive-In Theater closed in 2001. An article which appeared in the May 24, 2010 issue of the Sandusky Register featured memories of a former employee of the drive-in. Tim Bretz spoke about the complex dual projector system which had been used at the drive-in. The Sandusky Drive-In provided inexpensive entertainment to Sandusky area for many season. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Erie County Children’s Home

According to the book Treasure by the Bay, by Ellie Damm (Bucknell University Press, 1989), in 1898 the voters of Erie County approved the construction of a Children’s Home to be built on a five acre site just north of the intersection of Cleveland Road and Sycamore Line in Sandusky, Ohio. The Erie County Children’s Home opened in May of 1901. The building was designed by the Cleveland architectural firm of Lehman and Schmitt, and the general contractor was George Feick.

 The building was constructed of native limestone, and featured a large entry portico with pillars, with the windows and doors arranged symmetrically. Dormitories were located on either side of the main building. Girls were housed on the first floor of the right side of the building, and boys were on the first floor of the left side of the building. Each child was assigned an individual locker for his or her belongings. The dining room was located on the first floor of the main building. On the second floor of the main building was a hospital, quarters for the maids, and the rooms of the superintendent and his wife. The first superintendent of the Erie County Children’s Home was Eugene Peake. An epidemic of scarlet fever caused the residents of the home to be under a strict quarantine during July of 1901. The schedule for the Erie County Children’s Home was printed in the Sandusky Register of December 1, 1901. The daily routine included: rise at 6 a.m.; family worship at 6:20; breakfast at 7; school at 8:30; lunch at noon; school from 1:30 to 3 p.m.; supper at 6 p.m.; and bedtime at 8 p.m.  In December of 1926, the local Kiwanis Club sponsored a Christmas party for residents of the Children’s Home.

While the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center does not have extensive records from the Erie County Children’s Home, we do have some snapshots taken during the 1940s in our historical files.

The Erie County Children’s Home ceased operations in 1960. In the early 1960s, the building that formerly housed the Children’s Home was used for offices by Erie County. In 1992, the property was purchased by Stein Hospice, which opened at 1200 Sycamore Line in the summer of 1993.