One of my favorite local historians, Dennis Lamont, has been a huge help as I make my way around South Lorain and explore some of its history. Recently, I received this email from him: “In case you are wondering what went in that “hole” and left the red brick “bit”, it was the “Steel Plant Block” [black & white photo below -lisa]. The top floor was a huge ballroom entered by a sweeping center staircase, second-floor apartments, and the first businesses. Must have been quite an establishment when South Lorain was in its glory.”
I went back out to the area and took a second look at the details that I missed on my first visit. Had I realized then what I was looking at, my original post would have been “buildings and bits” instead. I totally missed that the Mexican Mutual Club building also has a “bit”. It has been painted and blends in well with the main building.
The space between the buildings and bits currently looks like this:
The photo from Dennis’ email of what used to be in that space:
[Steel Plant Block is the large, dark building on the left.
Dennis tells me it was demolished in the mid 1970’s. -lisa]
I have found a similar photo from 1902 that shows the hardware store is gone and has been replaced by a drug store and post office. At that time, East 28th Street was known as 10th Avenue. [Please click the link to see the photo – I promise it will be worth it – I do not have permission to publish or distribute the image.]
Dennis also answered my question about South Lorain having a downtown of its own. From his email: “South Lorain was once a vibrant self-contained community. The unofficial boundaries were the East side of the 28th Street Subway and “the ditch” out to Grove Avenue. If you lived within those boundaries you were from “Sout’ Lorain”. Movie Theaters, Stores, Post Office, Churches all in the space between Pearl and Grove, Model Bakery, many Neighborhood shops. U. S. Steel had huge plans for South Lorain but decided to build it all at Gary, Indiana, in 1906…”