Models of landmarks provide peek into Avon Lake's past

Photos courtesy of Andy Fowkes/Heritage Avon Lake

Bay Village resident Larry Scott has donated models he built of the Avon Lake Beach Park Station and other Avon Lake landmarks to Heritage Avon Lake.

AVON LAKE - What was in Larry Scott’s Bay Village basement gathering dust for at least 20 years now is a treasure for Heritage Avon Lake.

The 80-year-old retired veterinarian, who owned Fairview Animal Clinic for 50 years, has donated four HO gauge-scale buildings to Heritage Avon Lake.

The history of the Lakeshore Electric Railway spurred Scott to build "vintage" Avon Lake models. The models provide a detailed look into the city's past through former landmarks along Lake Road: Avon Lake Beach Park Station, the Peter Miller House, the T. Kekic gas station and Avon Lake Drugs. A model of a fifth building, Rose Hill, the Cahoon family's home in Bay Village, will be donated to the Bay Village Historical Society, Scott said.

"It was just in my basement gathering dust and cobwebs,” Scott said. “I thought it would be nice if someone could use it and others could enjoy it. This was something I had done in the 1990s and hadn't done really anything with since.”

The city's historical society will display the models in its mini museum at the former Avon Lake Beach Park plaza on Lake Road. The donation made HAL President Tony Tomanek wonder if other residents have similar items in their basements, attics or family photo albums relating to the city's past.

Scott said he has always liked working with his hands. About 300 feet behind the Lake Road home he and his wife, Judy, have shared for 42 years was an easement for the Lakeshore Electric Railway, which went between Toledo and Cleveland from 1901 to 1938.

Scott gathered ideas for special features on the buildings after perusing photos in local history books. Among the details he added were a man installing a window pane at the Peter Miller House and a late 1930s-era bus from the Lakeshore Electric Railway's bus line parked outside Avon Lake Beach Station's car barn. He added the "Spirit of St. Louis" airplane weathervane, a red Coca-Cola cooler and a Lucky Strike cigarette window ad to the T. Kekic gas station

"I wanted to add little details that would make for a good story," Scott said. "I would drive by that gas station many times and see the weather vane and Ted Kekic would be out there waiting on a customer."

HO transport modeling scale is a 1:87 scale. It is the most popular scale of model railway and buildings in the world for railway buffs. Scott made the buildings from pieces he gathered from local hobby shops.

When Scott called Tomanek about two weeks ago informing him of what he had and if the historical group would want it, Tomanek said, "Yeah, we'll look at it." Then, when Scott sent him pictures, Tomanek was amazed.

“I said, 'Absolutely' we'd like to have it,'” Tomanek said. "It was exciting to see it."

Tomanek said his favorite building in the model collection is the Avon Lake Beach Park Station.

"This is history here," Tomanek said. “Avon Lake was a destination, and the interurban railcars were how people got around until the automobile and buses came along."

Scott said soon after he completed the buildings in 1999, he took up photography as a hobby and researched genealogy.

"We're thankful Larry donated the buildings to Heritage Avon Lake," Tomanek said. "For many of the people who lived through that time, they love to see this kind of stuff. "It's amazing to think of the items and memories of other things people have sitting in their basements.”

Contact this reporter at 440-871-5797.

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