Medina Public Square - West Side

Walking along Medina's Public Square you will encounter some of the most interesting shops in the county: Dan's Dogs, Whitey's Army Navy, Ormandy's Trains and Toys, Studio Knit, Hershey's Barber Shop, All Fired Up Pottery, and the Dress Bridal Boutique. Cars and semi trucks will patiently wait for stop lights to change and crossing pedestrians will be rushing to the House of Hunan or Main Street Cafe to eat. Kids will play in the gazebo, the old cannon or the water fountain. But if you look up at the architecture of the buildings you will begin to see a Medina Public Square that was much more than a quaint drive through passage from north to south. You will begin to see a community rich with stories about bygone times of temperance, depression, heroes home from war, and families that have built a legacy of community values and created a sense of nostalgia for visitors and residents alike.

According to local lore, Medina was first founded by a group of settlers that raised a flag on the square for the first time in 1818. With a tub of home brew, the first citizens of Medina named the streets of Washington, Liberty, Jefferson and Court by noon. The small village has grown as it nears its bicentennial but has remained faithful to its love of country, faith and community.

The west side in particular harkens back to a day when farmer's wagons relied on the economic heart of the county for supplies, news, and trade. This economic center remained stable through the mid-twentieth century, complete with several grocery stores, meat markets, clothiers, lunch counters and hardware stores. Changes ensued in the Eisenhower Era with the growth of the northern corridor of Route 3 and the construction of I-71 just east of Medina's town center. As the north side of town expanded, the Medina Square became riddled with aluminum signs pointing visitors to the modern shopping plazas of North Court Street. In 1967 the Community Design Committee set out to assist building owners with restoring the square to the Victorian Era in which it rose like a phoenix out of the great 1870 fire that left it in shambles. The result is a picturesque backdrop for the specialty shops that call Medina home today.

Images

Mr. Bronson's Corner

Mr. Bronson's Corner

Once outlined by hitching posts for horses on the Wooster Pike stagecoach line, renovated into a mid-20th century drug store, and now a favorite for coffee, pastry, and ice cream, what is now Cool Beans Cafe has always played an intregal part in Medina's development. Cool Beans Cafe is presently located on the spot where Captain Badger's log cabin once stood, the first building on the Medina Public Square. Captain Badger likely lost his home in a fire, however Hiram Bronson, Medina County Sheriff in 1842, acquired the lot and built a mercantile store there. Bronson believed that Medina would prosper, and prosper is exactly what it did. Mr. Bronson kept his business running until 1861. Image courtesy of Medina Community Design Committee View File Details Page

Mrs. Letterly's Saloon

Mrs. Letterly's Saloon

Upon entering 241 South Court Street, you enter one of the oldest buildings on what was once known as the Mechanical Block of the square. The cornerstone in the building reads 1879; local historians assumed that this was when the building was rebuilt after the fire of 1877. However, local historian JoAnn King uncovered details about the store's history in 1874, five years before the store's supposed reconstruction. In 1874, 241 South Court Street was better known as Mrs. Letterly's Saloon. Local bars, or "tipling shops" as they were sometimes called, were places that were targeted by the Women's Temperance League of Medina. The organization made several trips to Mrs. Letterly's asking her to stop selling liquor. On the first visit, Mrs. Letterly facetiously agreed to stop selling liquor - if the organization would reimburse her for all of her alcohol. The next time that the Temperance League darkened Mrs. Letterly's front stoop, she invited them in. Trying to pass the blame, she explained to the women that her alcohol sales weren't the town's real problem -- the real problem was those in Medina who brewed their own hard cider in the privacy of their own cellars. The Temperance League returned twice more to sing hymns and pray outside of the saloon. Upon their final visit, Mrs. Letterly finally gave up her resistance. When the virtuous Prohibition women raised the money to buy Mrs. Letterly's alcohol, the bar was converted into a restaurant. Meanwhile, the League took Mrs. Letterly's liquor and poured it out in the street gutters, much to the dismay of those passing through on the Wooster Pike. Mrs. Letterly's Saloon eventually closed its doors but would became a bar again in the 1940s. In the meantime, the Cooley fountain located on Medina's square was dedicated to commemorate Cleveland Temperance leader Lathrop Cooley. Image Courtesy of Erin Straslicka View File Details Page

The Bustling West Side, 1800s

The Bustling West Side, 1800s

Because the Public Square was the central shopping mecca for Medinians, it was always crowded. Notice the multitude of carriages parked and the crowds of people walking down the sidewalks. This community reliance on the square continued until the 1990s, when large box stores moved to the northern corridor of Medina on Route 42. The Medina square transitioned from the location for buying staple items to what it is today: home to some of the most unique specialty stores in the state. Image courtey of the Medina County Historical Society View File Details Page

Cannon's Grocery Store

Cannon's Grocery Store

Cannon's Grocery Store In 1926, in what is now Grammercy Gallery, Mr. Cannon opened one of the most prominent grocery stores in Medina. In 1942 Mr. Cannon's daughter Ida took over the reigns and became an iconic Medina figure until 1972. People can still remember her glasses perched upon her nose as she made pleasant small talk and bagged all of the groceries by hand, tying a colorful ribbon around each bag for a personal touch. Medina residents also recall the huge block of cheese Ida had sitting on the counter, looking more aged and molded each time shoppers came in for more groceries. Perhaps the most comical memory residents have of Cannon's Grocery is of the delivery boys racing the old "Cannonball" up and down the city streets: Ms. Cannon's 1930s station wagon was used to make special home deliveries. Image courtesey of Medina County Historical Society View File Details Page

West Side, 1956

West Side, 1956

Parking was at a premium on the square in the 1950s. Still the location of a grocery, drug store, and office supply store, the 1950s boomed in Downtown Medina. After WWII, Medina experienced the greatest growth it has ever seen. Once they came home from war, GIs left the big cities, like Cleveland, and started families in small towns like Medina. People were able to work in Cleveland and live in "sleeper towns" like Medina with the expansion of the interstate highway system, including the construction of I-71 in the 1950s. Currently this location is home to Main Street Cafe at 17 Public Square. Image courtesey of Medina Community Design Committee View File Details Page

The Clock on the Square

The Clock on the Square

Picturesque images of Medina wouldn't be complete without a picture of the Cast Iron clock. George F. High owned a jewelry store on the square and placed this timepiece outside of his shop in 1911. Image Courtesy of The Cleveland Memory Project View File Details Page

Audio

Temperance Union Oath, 1850

Once a stopping point for many travelers heading south from Cleveland, the Cleveland connection is difficult to erase from Medina's core. However, the Wooster Pike did more than bring overnight guests to town. The Women's Christian Temperance Movement began in Cleveland in 1850. This anti-alcohol movement quickly spread to small towns including Oberlin, HIram and Medina. The proponents of temperance were encouraged by Lathrop Cooley, leader of the Franklin Circle Church in Ohio City. His second wife dedicated the marble fountain located on the Medina Square to commemorate her late husband's work. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

“Medina Public Square - West Side,” Discover Medina, accessed July 20, 2017, http://discovermedina.org/items/show/5.
Tour navigation:  Previous | Tour Info | Next

Share this Story