The Observer is pleased to introduce our newest columnist, Rachel Polaniec. Rachel grew up in Elyria and has lived in Westlake for the past 5 years. She has a passion for historic sites, studying living history museums as a student at Case Western Reserve University and participating in historic reenactments with her family. Her column will explore Northeast Ohio's rich history, touring sites that aren't too far from the Westlake/Bay Village area. Perhaps you'll be inspired to let the Magical History Tour take you away on a trip of your own.
When driving along U.S. Route 20 in Mentor, it is difficult to imagine the area without its usual bustle – the store fronts, the eateries, the people milling about; a veritable concrete jungle. But continuing along this road brings a reminder of a different time: Close to the street behind a white picket fence sits a tidy gray house with a burgundy roof and inviting front porch. This is Lawnfield, named such in 1880 by reporters who came to hear the Republican presidential candidate James A. Garfield campaign from his front porch.
Garfield’s successful front porch campaign was the first of its kind, and he was sworn into office March 4, 1881. His term was tragically cut short – after being shot by an assassin on July 2, Garfield died on Sept. 19, 1881, just 200 days after his inauguration.