‘Old Avalon’: A Howland legacy

Following World War I, when Warren City Council considered sending residents who had influenza outside the city, officials initially looked for a site to build barracks.

Howland widow Judith Henn had 132.78 acres of land available for sale. Warren bought the land July 28, 1917. However, since the influenza epidemic failed to materialize as expected, city council found itself owning vacant land.

After a few years, my grandfather, Ernest Davis, was hired to turn the swampy Guthiel Ditch-crossed property into a municipal-owned golf course.

The course opened in 1926 and thrived by competing against other Trumbull area courses as they arrived — Tamer Win, Forest Oaks, Prestwick, Northwood, Candywood, Eastwood, Dick William Memorial, White Picket Fence, Trumbull County Club and Mahoning Country Club, among others.

I earned most of the tuition I needed for my first two years at Ohio University by working at the old Avalon Golf Course working as a caddie, hunting and selling golf balls, along with delivering Warren Tribune Chronicle newspapers for pennies.

When Howland’s zoning department was contacted about the potential construction of a new Avalon Lakes Golf Course and hotel, my father, Chester Taiclet, represented the Henn Hyde Road residents who did not oppose the project.

I spent my Thanksgiving vacation from teaching collecting signatures for a petition — made by township trustees to present to the Trumbull County commissioners — requesting to have Pennsylvania’s Shenango Reservoir water lines extended from Vienna into Howland to provide water to Henn Hyde Road and the planned hotel.

Major Ladies Professional Golf Association events came to the new Avalon Lakes Golf Course, while the “Avalon South,” or “Old Avalon,” became a course for the inexpensive local leagues and individual average local golfers.

A new club house was built to replace the old one that had been moved across the street and would become my uncle Lyle Davis’ 19th Hole Tavern. Major layout changes were made to fairways 4, 5 and 17 that added to course acreage. Drainage, irrigation and aeration were added to keep the course within par shooting range for us nonprofessionals.

Unfortunately, failure to pay rents caused a year of course play to be canceled, resulting in proposals to sell the old Avalon Golf Course as a quick fix to Warren’s financial woes.

An evaluated sale of up to $18 million for the acreage would help solve Warren’s budget problems, but it still wouldn’t be available as a money supply for many years. The sale also would potentially present problems for Howland.

Although the site would be suitable for a Howland educational complex, in reality is it more likely to become a housing development. This would likely bring more students to the local schools, increasing the need to raise existing property taxes for services. Overall tax increases also would be needed for additional police and fire protection and infrastructure.

My request, if only for nostalgia, is to keep the golf course city-owned; require timely rent payments, even if they are lower; and maintain the status quo, even with minimal maintenance; and promote league and non-league play.

Discussion of a potential sale should be halted. As we already know that debate is at the end of the “hook,” meaning, in golfer’s terms, it’s gone off target.

With a new Howland Historical Society museum forthcoming on North River Road, the society requests donations of Howland-related items or items that might be of interest to future museum visitors. Don’t throw anything away. Don’t just yard sale everything. And don’t sell to collectors what can help your future museum. Donate.

Contact Warner Taiclet, Howland Historical Society vice president, at 330-856-1115.