Pictures of the past: New book coming out about Avon Lake

1955 Sparkle Market

Avon Lake

Avon Lake history is now more available at the turn of a page of “Avon Lake,” part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.

Written by Gerry Vogel in collaboration with the Avon Lake Public Library and Avon Lake Historical Society, the book is a collection of photographs depicting the history of Avon Lake, with some pictures and maps dating back to the late 1800s.

The book will come out Monday, and all proceeds will go to the Avon Lake Public Library Foundation, the Friends of the Library and the Avon Lake Historical Society.

Vogel, who is also the assistant director of the library, said it took about three years and many people to put the book together. He joined the historical society because it met at the library and was asked to speak about the history of the library. The society wanted to publish a book with photographs, as other communities had done through Arcadia Publishing. He offered to help collect pictures and information from what ended up being about 60 individuals, organizations and businesses. A number of donors are from out of state, having family who used to live in Avon Lake.

The library took a larger role in the book, and Vogel became the writer. After the contract was signed and the deadline set for photos, he was “locked in my office or here at home to write the book.”

In preparing the book, Vogel received support and guidance from Nancy Abram, historian for the historical society.

In putting the book together, Vogel said he started with stickers on his walls, which moved on to sheets of paper with sticky notes.

It was difficult choosing which pictures to select for the book, he said. At least 100 pictures of the CEI plant were submitted. One of the pictures fit the format well enough for Arcadia to be used as the cover art of the book, which depicts a work crew in 1926 building stack No. 1.

“Some of them I wished we could have used in the book but there was a space consideration or too many photos of this or that or not enough of that or this,” he said.

It was hard work going through stacks of photos and researching, and then fact checking, all of the information to go along with the pictures. Once he found a fact that was unsupported by another, he said it became a web of what was the truth and how he could get closer to it. He doesn’t envy people who do this type of work all the time.

“This book, it’s a nice, friendly ramble down memory lane, but you also can’t make stuff up and you don’t want to get stuff wrong,” he said.

Originally from Kitchener, Ontario, Vogel said it was difficult at times to put together a book on the history of Avon Lake not having grown up in the community. At the same time, that made it easier because he brought a fresh eye to the work.

“I don’t have any preconceived notions of what should or shouldn’t be in the book,” he said. “I was patient. I listened, watched and read.”

The whole process was humbling for Vogel to learn the history of the city. It was interesting for him to learn what people did through the generations with their families, farms and businesses.

“I’ve only been here recently myself,” he said. “I’ve chosen to stay and have a family here and see why other people did here, too, once upon a time.”

Contact Bryan Wroten at

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