By Kate Blake
I’m a big history fan. Whenever I travel, I love historical tours and opportunities to go through old
homes. It’s fascinating to see and think about how people went about their daily lives in the past before
all the technological advances we have today. I credit this interest to my dad and the family vacation we
took to Gettysburg when I was in junior high. So when Lauren Bajda in our YP group starting talking
about wanting to plan a historic trolley tour of Parma, I was definitely in!
Our tour was this past Thursday night, July 13, and it was so much fun! We started at Stearns Homestead which I drive by all the time, but have never stopped to visit. It’s true that we don’t always tend to do the
tourist activities right in our own communities. We got to tour Stearns House built in 1855, the Gibbs
House built in 1920, and the historic Yankee style barn that was the first building on the property, built
Starting with the barn, I couldn’t believe how large it was! It’s amazing thinking about how they built
this in 1850. We saw so many animals, including horses, a pig, rabbits, baby bunnies, and chickens.
Geese, cats, and goats were also throughout the property. Then we went through the main two houses,
which were so interesting to see inside. There are a lot of great artifacts in both houses that give you a
good sense of the time period. If it has been some time since you visited Stearns, or you have never
gone, I strongly recommend stopping!
Following our time at Stearns, we boarded the trolley for our tour around Parma, which included Shiva
Vishnu Temple, German Central, and German Lutheran Cemetery. I never realized this small historic
cemetery was right behind the gas station there on Pleasant Valley Road. We continued over to Tri-C
which was originally the location of Crile Hospital, a military hospital for soldiers and veterans. We also
stopped at Greenbrier Commons in Parma Heights where we saw the George Washington historical
marker and the First Brick Road in the US historic marker at the intersection of Pearl and Olde York Rd.
This was another historical marker that I never realized was there! Local historian Pat Nickols provided
great narration and facts throughout the ride.
A couple fun stops throughout the tour included Sweetie’s Soda Shop and the original fire station on
Snow Road. At Sweetie’s, we were able to get off the trolley, get an ice cream, and mingle with other
trolley guests. Seeing the original fire station was also really cool, and we were able to get a 10-15
minute tour inside. Built in 1922, the original fire and police station is now home of the Southwest
Italian American Club. Our last stop of the night was at the Jesuit Retreat Center. The Director offered
to come on board to share a few words with us about the history and background about the Center,
which was a really great way to conclude the night.
Overall, it was a fantastic event getting to learn more about Parma’s history and meet new people, and I
hope we host another trolley event like this soon!