July 22, 2014

Medina
Sunny
74°F

Medina historic homes open for tours

IF YOU GO
The South Court Street Twilight Stroll Home Tour will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14. Advance tickets are $7 per person, and $10 after Tuesday, Aug. 10. Tickets are available at Cool Beans Café, Gramercy Gallery, Miss Molly’s Tea Room and the Medina County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For information, call Elaine Lamb at (330) 725-6075 or e-mail enblamb@verizon.net.

MEDINA — The hundreds of people who travel daily to Medina using South Court Street have long been greeted by the remodeled historic homes gracing the street.

For the first time, the public will have the opportunity to view the interiors of six of these carefully tended and beloved homes during the upcoming “Twilight Stroll Home Tour” on Aug. 14.

The recently formed South Court Street Historic Neighborhood Association is hosting the tour. The association covers the historic district between Lafayette Road and Koons Avenue.

Co-founders of the association, Bill and Elaine Lamb, own one of the most recognizable homes on the street at 721 S. Court — a Queen Anne/Eastlake-style house with an intricately detailed auburn and yellow façade. It will be a part of the tour on Aug. 14.

Other homes that will be part of the tour are located at 706, 529, 614, 575 and 847 S. Court. Docents will guide visitors through each home that represents different architectural styles, from Italianate to Victorian. Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served at each home.

The Lambs have lovingly restored their home over 30 years. Through their efforts, they hope to restore the attention and care they believe the South Court district deserves.

Bill Lamb said the boom of new homes farther from the city’s center has led to potential homebuyers overlooking the older homes in town.

“These parts of the city decline,” Lamb said, but later added: “These are valuable houses … they’re very livable.”

While homeowners of newer houses may not have to update electrical systems and slate roofs, old homes have what new ones lack: legacy, craftsmanship and an indelible quirkiness that reflects the adaptations of several generations.

Built by prominent Medina resident, engineer and Civil War veteran Paul Parker from 1881-1883, the Lambs’ home itself is a miniature time capsule of the history of Medina and its people.

It originally sat on a 10-acre farm on a lot that was then in Montville Township. The two homes immediately to the left of the house were built so the Parkers’ children could one day live next door to their parents, Lamb said.

Paul Parker did not live to see the completion of his house.

On the day workers were laying 8-inch-thick sandstone slabs, Parker was helping to guide the slabs into the basement at the bottom of the stairs when one slipped off the ramp, pinning him against the wall and crushing him.

Parker lay in his bedroom for three days before succumbing to his wounds. His body was laid out in the home’s parlor, and was visited by local officials and community members.

The Lambs have found articles from The Gazette at the time detailing his tragic death and funeral, they said.

The building itself remains a testament to the Parkers’ taste and the craftsmanship of the day. Ornately carved cornices adorn the archway into the parlor; vibrant-colored stained-glass windows throw patches of red, blue and gold onto the floor in bright sunlight; and an intricately crafted wooden stairway creates a dramatic entrance to the home.

Tour participants will learn about the architecture and individual story of each home.

As the Medina area continues to expand outward and more homes on the street become rentals, the Lambs do not want to see their neighborhood and its rich history fall into neglect.

“Property values are dependent on the condition of the neighborhood,” Lamb said.

The couple said they hope the association and its tours will raise awareness that restoring historic homes is possible and will serve as a model for other inner-city neighborhoods. They also hope to eventually have the corridor officially designated as a historic district.

“If we are successful, other neighborhoods will do the same,” Lamb said.

He noted if there are any proceeds from the tour, they would go to the association toward neighborhood improvements.

Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or kbushinski@medina-gazette.com.