New book on Medina shows grand structures from then and now

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Fred Fierch, a retired social studies teacher for the Orleans-Niagara BOCES in Medina, holds a copy of his book, Medina Through Time. Fierch will sign copies of the book from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday at The Book Shoppe, 519 Main St. The cover of the book shows the Washboard Willy’s Laundromat on Starr Street, and the site’s predecessor, a foundry.

MEDINA – Fred Fierch always had a hunch that Medina was different from small towns with its many historic buildings in the downtown, and grand old churches and residences built from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

But it wasn’t until he was working on a local history book that he appreciated Medina’s vast collection of historic structures.

“Medina has a real preservation attitude,” he said. “A lot of it is still here.”

Fierch has his fourth book out and it features historic photos of Medina buildings contrasted with how the sites look today. In some cases, grand old structures have been replaced with modern homes or commercial buildings. But many of the buildings are largely unchanged after more than a century.

Provided photo

Provided photo

These photos show Medina Memorial Hospital, top, at Prospect and Eagle streets. This property was originally the home of A. L. Swett, one of the premier industrialists in the village of Medina. Mr. Swett sold this house to the hospital organization and it opened as a care facility on March 17, 1910. It contained nine beds and a staff of
three. It remained Medina’s hospital for about 15 years, Fierch writes in his book.

The author highlighted 92 sites in Medina. He said the community was a vibrant business hub in the late 1800s and early 1900s – “The three main things were the sandstone, the foundries and the furniture.”

His book gives readers a tour of the community from more than a century ago. So many of the ornate houses and commercial sites remain. Some buildings, such as the current Napa Auto Parts, had tall towers. That site was a hotel. Some churches, such as the Presbyterian Church and United Methodist Church, are shown when they had steeples.

The top photo shows crews digging a trench and working to install a sewer on State Street. “This is a wonderful picture of the effort required to create things that are today too easily taken for granted,” Fierch writes. “The row of men digging a trench which appears to be about ten feet deep and perhaps four feet wide seems to be endless! Notice how far back from the crest of the ditch the dirt is piled. How did it get there? Manpower, to be sure. Certainly they always worked with their feet in water.”

The bottom photo shows a current view of the State Street.

Fierch looked through more than 500 historic photos of Medina before settling on the 92 sites to be featured in the book. He looked for spots that remained in good shape and well known in the community.

He hopes readers we learn about Medina’s grand past and continue to help preserve the sites in the future.

“I hope they will appreciate the village, what it was and what it is,” he said.

Fierch will sign copies of the book from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at The Book Shoppe, 519 Main St.