In 1920, a group of Black people from Oberlin founded a shareholding corporation called the On-Erie Beach Company and purchased a lot of land in Lorain, starting at Lake Erie and stretching south to Meister Road. They called the area “On-Erie Beach”, and it became a popular destination for Black people from Cleveland, Oberlin, and other local areas. Company picnics, holiday celebrations, fundraising events and political rallies were held on the lakefront portion of the property, while summer cottages were built on lots south of the railroad.
From its opening in 1921 through its closing in the late 1930’s, On-Erie Beach was one of many historically Black beaches around the nation where Black people could safely and comfortably enjoy summer activities.
All kinds of exciting things happened at On-Erie Beach. For example, on Labor Day in 1934, daredevil Dorothy Darby parachuted from a plane into Lake Erie, attempting to set a record.
The Black History Community Research Team at the Lorain Historical Society has been researching the founders and the legacy of the On-Erie Beach Company for the past three months. On Saturday, May 20, 2023, the Research Team took a field trip out to the property. Pictures below.
If you enjoy doing research and learning about local Black history, join us! Contact the Lorain Black History Project at (440) 209-2980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.