Brunswick Area Historical Society - 4613 Laurel Road, PO Box 714 - Brunswick, OH  44212 - email -

Activism started early: Brunswick at 50

 By 'Sam' Boyer, Sun News


One of a series on the early days and development of Brunswick and Brunswick Township, celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year.

The Civic Corporation held many fundraisers to help local causes. Here, from left, are Peg Heintz, Ellen Crook (who kept the photo) and Joan Taylor planning another event.

Volunteers were the heart of Brunswick from early days to its boom years. Over the years there have been many civic-minded groups, but in the early 1950s one of the most significant in the history of the town was formed. It was the Brunswick Civic Corporation. You’ll hear more about it in coming stories.

Its constitution said the organization “ . . . is dedicated to the improvement of our sanitation, health and safety standards — and dedicated to the principle that the general welfare of the people in our community is worth working and fighting for.”

The document also has as an objective to encourage citizens to take a more active interest in the affairs of the community and makes a point of being “absolutely” non-partisan, non-sectarian and non-profit in its scope.

Luckily, one of its first members, Ellen Crook who moved here in 1954 with husband Clayton (later police chief) kept many of the records and photos of those days. Her daughter, Claudia Beeching, has passed them on to be preserved.

In 1956 an attorney, John K. Jensen, was corresponding about his work on behalf of the individual residents and the Civic Corp. On Sept. 4, 1956, for instance, he had a conference with Lou Crane and D. Elwood regarding sewage disposal problems created by residential development in Brunswick Township and possible remedies; review of the township zoning and building regulations and a preliminary survey of the area.

Both Crane and Elwood had large lakes on their properties along Sleepy Hollow Road. Crane, whose family moved here in 1953, was owner of Sleepy Hollow Lake and, according to his son, Greg, the popular Olympic-sized pool built in 1959 on the property was the result of pollution making the lake unsafe for swimming.

By July 1957, the group joined the Brunswick Chamber of Commerce in petitioning Governor William C. O’Neill asking for an investigation of sanitary conditions in Brunswick Township (remember, all five square miles were still a township).

Charles Monroe, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, and Peggy Heintz, secretary of the Civic Corporation, signed the letter with three separate petitions, each with dozens of signers. Interestingly, some of the signers also added the number of children in their household – perhaps as an incentive to the governor to take note. For instance, Edward and Therese McGoun noted they had five children; Raymond and Mary Fenner listed two children, as did Emil and Doris Rucky.

Later that month, the group’s president, Alfred Pistone, received a letter for H.O. Way Laboratory Service in which a person who investigated sewage disposal said he found, “a deplorable condition in a supposedly modern residence section. The danger of an intestinal epidemic in this area is GREAT.”

On Nov. 23, 1957, the county hired Ken Hotz to be an engineer. He was 23 and was hired by Wayne Anderson because of the housing surge in Brunswick. “I had a little drawing table in the basement of the courthouse until February 1959 when the trustees asked the commissioners if I could work in Brunswick and they would provide a part of the town hall, rent-free. They agreed.”

At the time, there were some sewage “package plants” in Brunswick built by developers the Franklin Brothers in the area of Andrea Drive, Marotta & Glazer on Huntington Circle, POC on James, Alwin Wolff on Substation and Cherry Lane. Hotz said the Department of Health had jurisdiction but wanted them to be taken over by the county sanitary engineering department. There were also two water systems – Franklin Brothers and Moxley with wells next to the high school (now Edwards Middle School).

The county also had another plant in its control, the Chippewa Plant.

In Brunswick, “There were so many wells being drilled and so many problems with running out of water,” Hotz remembers, “one Christmas day, the water ran out and a trucker had to haul water in to supplement the well water.”

He also remembered on 24-degree day in January that a well pump seized up and Don Swingle, a local plumber, had to pull that well casing and repair it.

Then the township incorporated and John Dinda became mayor. “He called and asked me to be the village/city engineer. We checked with the attorney general and they found no conflict of interest – and I had a young, growing family and needed the income,” he said.

So from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Hotz was working for the county and from 4:30 on, he worked for the city. That arrangement continued until 1969 when he moved back to Medina as sanitary engineer (in the Hale Dining Hall at the fairgrounds which had been used for Jungle Larry’s animals.”

Richard Allar, who was Hotz’s assistant engineer, then took over the job here.

Some of Hotz’s other memories were of Route 303 being 18 feet wide with huge trees forming a canopy over its two lanes. ”I remember you could drive 60 miles an hour on 303.”

Also, every spring you could count on flooding somewhere in Brunswick and angry people coming to council meetings because there were no storm sewers. The Huntington and James sewer plants would be covered with water.

When Alwin Wolff was mayor, city water came to Brunswick. “It was a 50-mile water line with 2600 connections,” Hotz said. Wolff also insisted on ditches to carry away the storm water.

Now retired and living in Medina, Hotz and wife, Norma, spend much of their time in Florida.