Folks tour Kirtland Temple with visitors bureau
If the Historic Kirtland Temple had a dollar for all the Northeast Ohio residents who say they’ve driven past the place hundreds of times over the years, yet never stopped to visit, it would likely have millions more dollars in its coffers.
Just ask Director Seth Bryant, who says he hears that story over and over again from folks who, despite living within a few dozen miles — or less — of the national historic site, have never taken the time to tour the 182-year-old structure.
He even posed the question during the first Lake County
Visitors Bureau Brown Bag Gathering, which happened at the temple from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 13.
“How many of you have driven past the temple — I don’t know — a hundred times and thought: ‘I should go and visit that,’ and this is the first time that you’ve been inside?” Bryant said following a tour and brief question-and-answer session inside the iconic building.
Easily more than a dozen of the event’s attendees raised their hands.
It’s just that kind of response the Lake County Visitors Bureau is trying to hedge through its new branding campaign, Remarkable Lake County OH, and the events it has planned to manifest it.
According to Lake County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Scott Dockus, the initiative aims to highlight 10 of tourism’s subdivisions which exist throughout the county: agriculture; attractions; cities and villages; events; fine arts; heritage; lodging; outdoors and wineries-breweries-distilleries.
After the tour of the temple, Bryant and Dockus interacted with the group about tourism in Lake County, where it’s headed and what they want to see happen with it in the future.
“Lake County is an incredible
place,” Bryant said, adding that the business and agency representatives in attendance have an opportunity to work together to achieve commerce and tourism goals, along with providing area residents with access and exposure to all the smallest of the state’s 88 counties has to offer.
“So,” he said, “How do we connect all of our places together and get people visiting - and not just out local residents. How do we expand that?” he said to the crowd of nearly 30, which included representatives from the Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, Lake Metroparks, the Willoughby Western Lake County Chamber of Commerce, along with residents
of various Lake County and other Northeast Ohio communities.
One agency representative said he thinks the gathering was a great one and that it just goes to show how collaboration can work to the county’s benefit.
“It’s fantastic,” said Lake Metroparks’s Assistant Chief of Outdoor Education. “I’m really looking forward to the impact this series is going to have on everybody getting together and working together. It’s a great way to showcase the county and put its many treasures on the map.”
Dan Maxson, who works with the Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, as well as serving as docent at the Old Stone Schoolhouse
in Concord Township, which is adjacent to the park system’s Greenway Corridor, said shortly before the temple tour that many people likely aren’t aware of how many places of historic interest lie within Lake County’s 228 square miles.
“I think people don’t realize how many hidden gems there are in Lake County,” Maxson said. “We’re the smallest county. But I’d venture to say that we have the most artifacts.”
He added that “its’ nice to see Scott (Dockus) and the Lake County Visitors Bureau take such an active interest in preservation. I think it’s good.”
Following the temple tour and the event’s namesake luncheon, some Lake County residents agreed.
“I liked it,” said Mentor resident Mike Hearn, who came to the event with his wife, Kate. “I was very impressed with the building, itself. It definitely wasn’t what I’d expected.”
Hearn admitted he’s one of the thousands who have driven by the national historic landmark likely thousands of times over the years, yet hadn’t stopped in until the Feb. 13 event.
Both Kate and Mike agreed they’d come back again and that, now having seen it after all these years, would recommend it to others.
Another Lake County resident, Linda Toth from Painesville Township, said she hadn’t been in the temple since going there for a field trip while she was still enrolled in the Painesville City Schools decades ago.
Also volunteer with the Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, she said she learned about the Brown Bag Event by wordof-mouth.
“I thought it was a great event,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. It’s been many years since I’ve been here, as a child.”
She added that she “absolutely would recommend” a visit to the site, as well as any other Lake County Visitors Bureau Brown Bag Gathering.
“Oh yes!” Toth said. “I would definitely come to the next one.”
Dockus said the Brown Bag Gatherings are planned to happen every other month and will highlight one of the aforementioned subdivisions of Lake County tourism.
As the hour-long, inaugural edition wound down and attendees disbursed, Dockus said he thought it was a success.
“I thought it went well,” he said. “We had, I think, 27 people who signed up and we had a nice mix of residents, chamber (of commerce) members, destinations and businesses. So that was good.”
Bryant agreed, confirming he thinks the event will likely help bring attention to the temple.
“Oh, I think it went great,” he said, adding that he thinks the right message was delivered. “Lake County has some amazing places. Kirtland Temple is one of them. Come and visit.”
“I think people don’t realize how many hidden gems there are in Lake County. We’re the smallest county. But I’d venture to say that we have the most artifacts.” — Dan Maxson, who works with the Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse, and serves as docent at the Old Stone Schoolhouse in Concord Township
Visitors to the Historic Kirtland Temple Feb. 13 step inside the building, some for the first time.
Kirtland Temple Director Seth Bryant talks about the temple’s history Feb. 13 during the inaugural Lake County Visitors Bureau Brown Bag Gathering.