Ohio Open Doors showcases history

WARREN — Niles resident Amanda Macik said she could not believe all there was to see at the Masonic Temple on East Market Street in Warren as she was among several visitors who traveled to various historic sites in the county.

“I would never have guessed this building had all this,” she said as she walked through the large meeting room on the fourth floor.

Local historical sites and organizations opened their doors for three hours Saturday during the Ohio Open Doors event organized by the Ohio History Connection. The idea is to promote and inspire pride in the state’s heritage.

In Trumbull County, historical homes and buildings people could visit included the Vienna United Methodist Church, McKinley Birthplace Home in Niles and the Kinsman House in Warren.

Meghan Reed, director Trumbull County Historical Society, said the event is designed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Historic Preservation Act, which focuses on the preservation of historic buildings and landscapes.

“It was nice to showcase places that do not always have open houses such as the Masonic Lodge and the Vienna United Methodist Church,” Reed said.

In Niles, the McKinley Birthplace Home was opened for self-guided tours.

Ralph Tolbert, a local historian, showcased “A Walk Down Memory Lane” highlighting history of Niles from 1806 to 1940.

“Most of the homes in the city then were wooden. When the city expanded, these wooden buildings were torn down and replaced with brick buildings,” he said.

He said when people see photos of the city from the early 1900s, it is hard for them to recognize places that have changed. He said there were horses pulling vehicles and trolleys.

“Niles had a lot of manufacturing, several steel mills and fabricating plants,” Tolbert said.

He said the General Electric plant built in the early 1900s later merged with Niles Lamp / GE.

At one time, there were 205 glass blowers making 225,000 glass bulbs which was 1,100 in eight hours, he said. Later, two men and a machine made 3,000 to 5,000 bulbs in an hour.

Tolbert said the Warner Brothers got their start in the area advertising and showing movies.

In Warren, Bill McCleary with Old Erie Lodge 3 took visitors on tours of the Masonic Temple.

He said the original building was on Harmon Street and then it was sold and the new location built in the 1800s. Over the years, the building has undergone additions, including an elevator for the four-floor building and

McCleary said many local groups, such as the Masons and Job’s Daughters, use the building.

Ron Gordon with Old Erie Lodge said the building is opened to the public only a few times each year.

“I am a history buff. This is an event I enjoy being able to go inside the different historical building. It is amazing see all this,” said Gordon, who being retired indicated he can see more sites.

“You really get to see the local history,” he said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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