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Avon Lake - How It All Began
Avon Lake was born of Township Number 7 in Range 16 of the Western Reserve. Formerly a part of Cuyahoga County, it was briefly known as Xeuma, then became Troy Township in 1818.
In 1822, Lorain County was established, and in 1824 Troy found itself in a new county with yet another name. Now Avon Township, its territory included all of the area comprising the present cities of Avon and Avon Lake. Avon Lake’s first permanent settlers, the Adam Miller family, established their home along Erie’s shore in 1819. As population grew, agriculture - particularly grapes and fruit farms – became the township’s lifeblood.
In 1882, the Nickel Plate Railroad bisected Avon Township. In 1898, the Lakeshore Electric Railway and the popular Beach Park amusement site gave a substantial boost to surrounding land values. The railroad tracks ultimately became the line of demarcation between north Avon and south Avon, as early developers and agriculturalists parted ways. In 1911 the citizens voted to split north and south Avon at the railroad tracks, and in 1915, Avon Lake installed its first township leaders.
Since then, Avon Lake has grown to a population of nearly 24,000. It blends large and small industry, multiple parks and beautifully developed hiking and biking trails, and is highly ranked for its schools and safe neighborhoods. Avon Lake has much to celebrate with this Bicentennial.
I remember Sandy Lee’s Drive-In at Walker Road and Avondale Avenue. It was a popular Avon Lake establishment in the late 1950s. Opened in May of 1958 by Sam Trivanovich, it was named for the owner’s daughter, Sandy Lee. Patrons could get hot and cold sandwiches, milkshakes, and other beverages – complete with car hop service.
And then there was Paul & Evelyn’s Diner. It was the oddly-shaped building on Lake Road, reminiscent of a railway dining car. It offered 13 barstool seats at a counter, and two very small tables. Conversations were never private – the establishment did not lend itself to confidential discussion. While Paul had a soft spot for children, he could be an irascible short-order cook. Patrons were warned with a sign on the wall that read, “Order what you want, eat what you get”.
Gitta’s Table was an IGA grocery store, complete with gas pumps. Later it was painted red, and was popularly known as simply “the red store”. Kids would ride bikes there for candy and popsicles, and a minor could purchase cigarettes for mom or dad with no more than a hand-written note giving permission for the purchase.
The “Avon Lake Garage” behind “the red store” the mechanic was a man known as “Dub” Kidney. He was a well-liked guy, known for his expert mechanical work and body work, and was even known to fix kids’ bikes. There was a time when Lake Road was three lanes. The middle lane was designated as a passing lane. It was marked off by a double yellow line, for different directional usage. The system was scrapped most likely because of so many front-end collisions or folks playing "Chicken".