AVON LAKE — History was made Sunday as Ibrahima Sow of the Ohio History Connection dedicated Beach Park Station-Stop 65 as a historical site.
Stop 65, which was an original stop on the Lakeshore Electric Railway, will be denoted by a state marker that will stand alongside a newly refurbished Lake Shore Electric Car No. 38 in front of Beach Park Shopping Center.
Tom and Tomi Patton, of Avon Lake, owners of the historic Lake Avenue shopping center and trolley car No. 38, moved the car to the center’s parking lot after restoring it. A self-described history enthusiast, Tom Patton said the effort grew from learning about the intriguing history of Avon Lake.
Bobbie Rudge, chairwoman of the Avon Lake Historical Preservation Commission, proposed for the location to become a historical landmark because of the significance it holds as a special place in her heart when she would visit the hometown of her mother and grandparents.
“This was downtown Avon Lake for many former and current residents, this place was always special,” she said.
The Lake Shore Electric Railway was the best way for people travel between Cleveland and Toledo from the early 1900s to the late 1930s. The stops in between allowed industries and communities like Avon Lake to grow. Although the railway system has long gone, Avon Lake’s street names and locations were inspired by its origin as a railway stop.
“The culture is growing up here and everything in Avon Lake was identified by a stop number,” said Heritage Avon Lake Vice President Tony Tomanek. “So my mom and dad would say, ‘We’re going to go to 65, do you need anything?’ and 65 to me was shopping center, this was everything.”
Former residents Bram and Kathi Bailey, both 69, enjoyed the dedication ceremony. The couple grew up in Avon Lake, and Bram Bailey recalled how the electric railway helped his grandfather jump-start his business selling noodles in the 1920s.
“My granddad had a deep interest in the lakeshore, so I got all kinds of tutelage from him over my life as a kid growing up,” he said.
Mayor Greg Zilka as well as state Rep. Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville, spoke at the dedication.
After the ceremony, Tomi Patton invited people into the Beach Park Professional Building to get a sneak peek at the couple’s efforts to transform the old bowling alley/roller arena building into a historical museum.