Ashtabula Museum in the Beginning

This is the way the Ashtabula Maritime Museum looked in June 1984, a weekend after it opened. Read The Youngstown Vindicator Story to learn the story of its creation.

Ashtabula Museum Fulfills Veteran  Mariner’s Dream

By Ben Marrison

Vindicator Staff Write (The Youngstown Vindicator)

Sunday, June 16, 1984

Ashtabula- When the Ashtabula Harbor Marine Museum opened its doors last weekend, it was a dream come true for Paul Petros, a local resident and longtime mariner.

“It’s a dream Paul’s had for 50 years,” said Gordon “Duff” Brace, who with Robert Leng and Clint Ekenstein helped Petros see his dream become a reality.

Petros said the primary reason for his efforts was to let others get a “touch of all the history that started here in the Harbor.”

Now, after years of work, visitors can come and see some of the artifacts from the history these men lived. There are more than 350 items in the museum – all donated.

The artifacts, some which date back as early as 1904, will be divided up categorically and placed into separate rooms.

There are flags; scale models of ships that traveled the lakes; photographs dating back to 1906; lanterns; gauges; depth finders; one of the first outboard motors every made; and a collection of miniature tools hand made by Warner “Spike” Pearson.

Two items are located outside the building – an anchor and a ship’s wheel.  The wheel came from the Matthew Andrews, but none of the men have determined where the anchor came from. Brace explained, “There are no markings on it and no records telling us if any ships went down where it was found.”

Petros believes the anchor may have come from a ship that sank in the early 1900s,

Brace added, “By the size of the chain and the ancho itself, we know it was made in the 1880s.”

Petros as well as the other Refurbishing Committee members, have many tales to tell about the artifacts and of their experiences on the lakes and will share them with visitors if requested.

Petros recalled an instance on November 5, 1975, when he drove Edmund Fitzgerald shipmate Ransom Cundy to the docks. “I was sitting in the mess hall with him when the captain came in asking about a couple of the sailors. When they left, I shoo hands with both of them. That was the last time I saw him – the ship went down five days later.”

The Museum, located at the easternmost point of Walnut Boulevard, is open Thursdays through Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. The committee expects to hold its grand opening on Labor Day.

The building has quite a history. It was built in 1896 and used as a lightkeeper’s home. Afterwards, the Coast Guard owned it, and then it was turned into a Boy’s Club.

“After the city took over the building, we bought it,” Petros said.

He new the building was where he wanted to put a museum. “I brought nine or ten ship captains up here and they all said the same thing – this is the ideal place for a museum.”

“Everything in the building was donated by someone in the area” said Brace.

The donations were not just “the usual” donations, they said, as one donor, who wished to remain anonymous, gave $20,000 to the fund.

Another donation of note was by the Glidden Paint Company. The company donated all paint needed to refurbish the building, and also “sent n interior decorator in to figure out what rooms should be painted what colors,” Leng said.

Price of admission is $1 for adults and 50 cents for students between the ages of  12 and 18. Children under 12 will be admitted free.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s