New Home, New History

From The Heart Of Ohio

New Home, New History

When we left Cooperstown to move to Ohio, a good friend told us in no uncertain terms that we would never know the history of our Ohio community as well as we know the history of Cooperstown and its environs.
And while we would most heartily concur with this assessment, during our relatively short time in Ohio we feel we have managed to add to our knowledge of Knox County in which Mount Vernon is located.

There is no doubt that we learned a great deal about the history of industry in the county by reading the “Ariel-Foundation Park” book. But we have also found the local daily newspaper, The Mount Vernon News, has run stories about the history of the area which have also added to our newfound knowledge of the area.
In fact, the Feb. 19 edition of the paper included a supplemental section entitled “The Looking Glass.” As we understand it, this supplement to the paper appears annually and covers a wide variety of articles on the history of the area.
One of the articles, “Tragedy Strikes Old Kenyon in 1949” covered a part of the history of Kenyon College of which we were already familiar, namely at fire in the Old Kenyon dorm which unfortunately killed nine students. Old Kenyon, which was the first permanent structure at the college, was rebuilt and is still in use today as a dorm.
We found another article, entitled “Centerburg Public Library: A Storied Past,” to be of interest. In it we learned that the public library in Centerburg, a community in the western part of Knox County, was started by the Alpha Club. The club was a women’s club founded in 1900 in response to all the men’s social clubs in the community at the time. It was in 1924 that the Alpha Club decided the community needed a library and proceeded to raise the necessary funds.
This, of course, reminded us of the time when the public library in Cooperstown, in danger of closing, was taken over by the Women’s Club of Cooperstown. The club managed to keep the library open until such time as the village saw fit to take over its operation.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of Mount Vernon history was found in the article, “Steel finds its place home following WWII.” It seems that after the war, the government’s control of steel prohibited the Chicago Vitreous Co. from building structures for gas stations and other commercial buildings. But they were allowed to build much-needed housing.
As a result, the company, which eventually opened a plant in Columbus, Ohio, undertook building Lustron homes, one of which, No. 2526, can still be found in Mount Vernon. And while the home is currently unoccupied, there is an ongoing campaign to save it for posterity.
And having driven by the Mount Vernon house, we can attest to the fact that it is indeed in need of some tender loving care.

(Editor’s Note: There is also Lustron home, unheralded, on Oneonta’s Union Street.)


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