About 30 miles east of Cleveland, Painesville was settled in the early 1800’s and is the seat of Lake County. Fans of Clarence Day Jr.’s memoir Life with Father will be interested to know that Vinnie Day came from Painesville, and that Clarence Sr. often joked about rescuing her from a small, provincial town.
The city was named not after Thomas Paine, but rather after General Edward Paine (1746-1841), and we encountered this statue of him as we entered the city:
|General Edward Paine, founder of Painesville|
|The plaque from the base of the statue, with more information about Paine. (Click to enlarge any photos.)|
We first stopped for a pleasant lunch at the Rider Inn, which dates back to 1812. The Inn was enlarged several times over the years, most importantly in 1832, when Jonathan Goldsmith gave it substantially its present form.
After lunch, we did some browsing at the antique shop next door, then headed for the campus of Lake Erie College. My main goal there was to visit the 1829 Dr. John Mathews house, also by Goldsmith. This house has always been one of my top favorites, and I will cover it more closely in a future post.
|The John Mathews House, 1829|
We then walked over to the main part of the campus. College Hall is the main landmark building, dating from 1857. A pleasant surprise is the back of this building, facing a less-formal grassy area. The wide, shady porch is supplied with a row of rocking chairs, which proved so comfortable we had to force ourselves to get up and continue our tour.
|Lake Erie College|
|Lake Erie's reception rooms retain many of their original features|
|An unusual Gothic radiator.|
|The back porch wasn't curved, but this was cut from a panoramic shot.|
The area near the college is enjoyable to walk around, with tree-lined streets and many fine old houses.
|This Queen Anne has some unusual architectural features.|
|A very large and magnificent tree.|
The Second Empire Steele house was sadly gutted by fire a while back, but it is nice to see that they are working on restoring it:
The Grand River flows right through Painesville, and is a place I love to explore and hike around, although that day we could only give it a couple of hours. Because of the drought, the water level was amazingly low, only a few inches at its deepest point. This used to be the site of a very old mill, and the stone foundation wall is still visible, giving an agreeable touch of antiquity.
|The Grand River at a very low ebb. We used to fish here.|
|All that's left of the old mill.|
The old sluiceway can still be clearly discerned in the ruins.
A fitting end to this day was a short trip north to Lake Erie and the small town of Grand River (population 345) for a dinner of fresh Lake Erie yellow perch at Brennan’s Fish House.
If you get to northern Ohio, be sure to make some time for Painesville; with so much left of its early history it is fun to revisit the 19th century and the early days of the Western Reserve.