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Historical SitesLorain County boasts a long history of cultural and ethnic diversity. We celebrate our heritage through an acclaimed collection of museums, attractions and tours.
Named after the French province of Lorraine, Lorain County offers museums, restored homes and historic districts that recapture the pioneer spirit of a vital and growing county. Visitors can see everything from rustic stage coach stops and elegant Victorian-era homes, to Italianate and Greek Revival mansions. Explore the renovated opulence of the Lorain Palace Theatre, once the largest theater of its kind in Ohio.
When Heman Ely first came to this part of the state in the early 1800s, he founded a gristmill and sawmill in what eventually became the town of Elyria. Ely suggested a more anglicized name for the area; Lorain. The home of the Lorain County Historical Society is The Hickories, located in Elyria. The Hickories was home to Arthur Garford who made a fortune putting padding on bicycle seats and later manufactured the Garford automobile.
The county prospered through industry. Steel making brought people, money and railroads to the area. Ships brought timber, minerals and grain. Much of Lorain’s industrial history can be viewed at the Black River Historical Society.
Today sailboats and pleasure crafts have replaced shipbuilding enterprises. Tourism is now as much an industry as steelmaking. Lorain County Heritage is everywhere, from an authentic ship pilot house at the Inland Seas Maritime Museum, to historic Wellington the early home of “Spirit of 76” painter Archibald Willard.
The sandstone industry also has a long and storied history here. Sandstone’s role in the local economy can be found at the Amherst Historical Society’s Sandstone Center. The Center features a blacksmith shop, octagonal barn, Quigley Museum, St. George’s Chapel, Harris House, 1930 Auto Garage and much more.
Oberlin was founded as a Christian perfectionist colony and over the years the town and Oberlin College became associated with coeducation, the Underground Railroad, reform movements, and scientific discovery. This rich history is shared through the historic buildings and records preserved at the Oberlin Heritage Center.
Click here for a list of museums and historical organizations in Lorain County.