‘Look here,’ project lures visitors to view Warren' through the years

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The heading on an 1864 photo of West Market Street mounted on a metal stand on Courthouse Square says “Look Here.”

The photo shows a wide, dirt road extending much farther into the grassy area than what exists now on the square.

“This was all like graze land,” explained Melissa Karman, director of the Sutliff Museum in the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. As shown in the photo, it was a place where horses were tied up on both sides of the street while their owners managed their affairs in the business and governmental district.

The photo also shows the 1863 Defiance Building on the south side of Market Street that is still there today, looking much like it does now, though it was renovated several years ago. The photo stand is located just across from Nova Coffee.

On the other side of Courthouse Square is a photo stand showing the second county courthouse, which was located more centrally in the square than the 1895 courthouse that exists today. A photo on High Street shows the buildings and cars as they looked in the 1950s.

Karman and Meghan Reed, director of the Trumbull County Historical Society, say the photos are among 10 that have been installed in various locations downtown to bring interesting historical images closer to the people.

“We have these photos in our collections that nobody ever sees, and it shows the progression of how Warren became what it is today,” Karman said.

The images were born from a similar project in the Over-the-Rhine District in Cincinnati, said Karman.

“It seemed like such a good idea,” she said. The historical society and Sutliff Museum obtained about $5,000 through the Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Neighborhood Success Program. The city matched that to provide the funding for

Warren’s project.

Reed says she hopes it will encourage people to reflect on the city’s heritage. “I hope people will use it to think about what our identity is as a community.”

Reed says she thinks it has been well received.

“I’ve observed people stopping to look at them, particularly parents with children, using it as a teaching tool,” she said. She was able to observe lots of people enjoying it during the Warren Homecoming celebration last fall.

The photo stands are part of a revitalization effort for the city that includes new landmarks such as Modern Methods Brewery on David Grohl Alley and Nova Coffee, Reed said.

“There is a lot more foot traffic [downtown], and nonprofits here [such as the Trumbull County Historical Society and Sutlff Museum] can play a part in that,” she said.

The photo stands are meant to be semi-permanent, with the ability to put different photos on the stands or move the stands to different locations.

The historical society is located in the 1807 John Stark Edwards Home, 303 Monroe St. NW, the oldest remaining house in Warren.

But the historical society is expanding into the former Ohio Public Defender’s Office building at 328 Mahoning Ave. near Courthouse Square. The facility will be called the Cultural and Education Center.

The historical society is expanding in other ways, retaining Reed as its first full-time employee two years ago and seeing its membership grow 500 percent in the past three years.

The historical society also asked the county commissioners in November to consider providing the organization with $75,000 in 2019. The money would enable staff to focus its time on local history activities and projects compared to spending 75 percent of its time on fundraising, as it does now, Reed said.

One goal would be to expand history programs to areas outside of Warren, like creating a historical driving tour and a driving-tour booklet to make people more aware of Trumbull County locations of national significance, such as the Clarence Darrow Octagon House in Kinsman and Underground Railroad sites along state Route 45.

The Sutliff Museum’s focus is the things Levi and Phoebe Sutliff did during the anti-slavery movement of 1820 to 1870. The museum is on the second floor of the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library on Mahoning Avenue.

Reed and Karman both have a master’s degree in history.

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