FOR SALE: PARK, WWI MONUMENT
Council voted to seek bids on land
For sale: One city monument to residents who died in World War I.
Veterans groups, history buffs or sculpture enthusiasts will get a shot at buying Lorain’s monument to the city’s native sons who died defending freedom in the Great War.
On Nov. 5, Lorain City Council voted to sell two parcels of land that make up Victory Park, the triangle-shaped plot at the intersection of West Fifth Street and West Erie Avenue.
The Council vote came less than a week before Veterans Day, the national holiday that started as Armistice Day, commemorating the end of fighting in World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
The Lorain land includes the large white “V” for victory and the monument, which is a pedestal and statue of Victory, carrying a sword and palm frond to symbolize triumph.
Safety-Service Director Dan Given determined the land is among numerous parcels that the city owns, but that are not needed for city purposes.
Given also “has determined none of the parcels of real property were dedicated to the city for use as park land,” according to the city legislation.
Councilwoman at-Large Mary Springowski opposed the move, as did Ward 4 Councilman Greg Argenti and Ward 8 Councilman Joshua Thornsberry.
“The reason I’m opposed to this is because this is the World War I memorial, the memorial to the Great War,” Springowski said. “This is the angel that withstood the Great Tornado of Lorain and it’s a testament to the resilience and the perseverance of not only this city, but of this country.
“And I am very opposed to taking that away from the residents of this city, and I think that it needs to remain.”
If maintenance is needed, Springowski said she would commit to help and the city should sound the call for volunteers to assist.
“It is a very important memorial,” she said. “We cannot forget these brave soldiers who defended this country during the Great War.”
Ward 6 Councilman Angel Arroyo Jr. asked if the monument would stay in the city and if any veterans groups opposed the sale.
So far, no opposition has
surfaced, said Mayor Chase Ritenauer.
It was unclear if the memorial would move.
Ritenauer said if there is a winning bid, the statuary could remain, but the city does not want to see the parcels fall into a state of disrepair.
The memorial could find a new home at Memorial Row in the northern part of Lakeview Park, said Councilman at-Large Mitch Fallis.
There is merit to moving it there because the monument would be among other tributes in an area with more public parking and visitors, Fallis said.
A veterans group has expressed interest in the property where the monument sits, he said.
It was unclear exactly when the city would solicit bids for the land.
The park sits next to the Disabled American Veterans Louis Paul Proy Chapter 20 unit at 1319 W. Erie Ave.
Springowski said she and her friends called it “the angel statue” when they were children.
It was the only thing left standing when houses across the street were flattened in the Great Tornado of 1924.
On a personal note,
Springowski said she had ancestors who fought and were killed in World War I.
She pleaded with Council to hold onto Lorain tradition and leave the park alone.
“It’s almost like we’re digging up a grave,” Springowski said.
The war memorial was dedicated in 1922 with great fanfare, according to an article from local historian Dan Brady.
Brady has written about Victory for his online archive, Brady’s Bunch of Lorain County Nostalgia.
After the statue was erected in Lorain, the frond and sword blade apparently
were lost in the Great Tornado of 1924, according to Brady’s blog.
They were restored in 1948 by August Nabakowski, and Brady found a Black River Historical Society photograph that appeared to show the restored monument sometime shortly after that.
Victory became a victim of vandalism when the sword blade and palm frond disappeared.
In 2013, civic and veterans groups, including the DAV, began a new restoration effort. Lorain resident Ed Ferraro recreated the blade and palm frond in Victory’s hands.
Lorain City Council voted Nov. 5 to sell two parcels of city-owned land that make up Victory Park, Lorain’s monument to her native sons who died in World War I.
A statue at Victory Park, Lorain’s monument to her native sons who died in World War I, is part of what Lorain City Council voted Nov. 5 to sell.