Leonard M. Moore built the house in 1906. He was a bank trustee, businessman, contractor, Secretary/Treasurer of the Lorain Lumber and Manufacturing Co., located at the foot of Ninth Street near the river, City Council Member and Mayor. Mr. Moore was born in a white house next to the Moore House, but it has since been torn down.
Moore's passion, a businessman and civic leader, was a park for the citizens of Lorain. He is remembered for this civic undertaking. As the story unfolds, he was interested in the city purchasing land that happened to be outside the city limits, for the park. At the time, the border of the city was at the corner of Fifth and West Erie Avenue. There was much opposition. Many did not want to spend city funds to buy land outside the city because they felt there was more than enough to be done inside the city. Mr. Moore decided he needed to run for City Council to support the idea. He was successfully elected for a term as City Council Member, between 1914 and 1916. The Council would still not approve the plan. In 1916, he ran and won, the race for Mayor. One of his first mayoral actions was to encourage the City Council to purchase property for a park; Lorain finally got Lakeview Park.
The Moore House, the future home of the Black River Historical Society, located at the corner of Reid Avenue and Fifth Street, next to the Moose Lodge, was initially intended for demolition by its owners. Lorain Community Development was approached in 1991 with a request for a permanent home by BRHS. In short order the City Council passed legislation for Community Development to pursue the project and shortly thereafter federal money was made available for the project. Research was done on Moore House's suitability as a museum, and only a year later, the architectural restoration bid was awarded. The contract for construction was awarded in 1993, with the keys being tuned over to BRHS in September 1994.
Exhibition areas are generally fixed with some items rotating off display from time to time, to be replaced with a better example or the need to rotate sensitive artifacts off display. The rooms in the home are defined by their common usage in the early 20th century. The spaces are a mixture of historic room displays and collections exhibition.
The Foyer (front entrance) has a registration area with an introduction to the home.
The Living Room has displays on the Moore Family, Leonard M. Moore (businessman and Mayor) and Conrad Reid, Black River's first Mayor and first business owner (trading post on the west bank of the river's mouth). Additional displays include those on Lorain schools, past businesses and the Palace Theater (recently renovated). Another great Lorain treasure, the Lorain Lighthouses, has a display that includes a lighthouse lens similar to one used until recently. Read about the Lorain Lighthouse here.
The Dining room has a beautiful tile-faced fireplace, one of five in the house. Collections in the room include Calendar plates dating to 1905 (donated in memory of Audrey Spaid), donated early china and glassware and a treadle sewing machine.
The Pantry and Kitchen have a collection of early 20th century utensils along with a GE electric refrigerator from 1928 and a Magic Chef stove (need date) made in Lorain at the American Stove Works (Long Ave. and 13th St.).
An open oak stairway leads to the second floor Landing. The wallpaper is mid-Twentieth century, but is similar to turn-of-the-century wallpaper. On the landing walls, are images of Lorainites who have made a name for themselves across the country and some of BRHS's extensive collection of Lorain images.
Continuing up the stairs to the second floor, the Master Bedroom has displays of Lorain industry and transportation. Equipment used by an operator at the Lorain ship-to-shore radio station the night the large ore carrier, the Edmond Fitzgerald, sank on Lake Superior is displayed. Lorain was the hub for radio traffic on the lakes during the era.
The Fashion Room displays ladies' hats, shoes, and dresses used by Lorainites; some attributed to specific owners. The floor has a bump caused by the 1924 tornado, when a beam twisted. Although damaged, about 100 neighbors came to stay at the Moore's house that evening; their homes had been totally destroyed in the ferocious storm.
Grandpa's Room has military, sports, police and fire fighters equipment and a 4' x 6' aerial picture of Lorain from 1945. It shows the harbor, bridges and downtown, below the shipyard and steel plant.
The Children's Room has dolls, toys, trucks, a Jenny Lind crib and clothes. The center of attention is a dollhouse made by Louis Keller, with furnishings by Mary Elizabeth Keller.
At the base of the stairs to the basement there is an abbreviated display of Dr. Leonard Pratsch's Lorain optometrist's office. The majority of the basement is used for business and curator's offices and provides workspaces for individuals wishing to do research. Banks of file storage hold BRHS's documents and images of Lorain and the surrounding communities.