Mr. Richard P. Lothrop (1926-2015) was a well-known figure in the Oberlin area. He was the first librarian at Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgeville from 1968-1988. There, he began archiving the School’s history. He served on Oberlin City Council for ten terms and acted as the town’s unofficial archivist for a number of years. He kept files and records on numerous topics and always was receptive to share his files and newspaper clippings on topics of interest.
Lothrop was named “Oberlinian of the Year” in 1996. As noted in an editorial in the Oberlin News-Tribune, folks around town most often described him as “helpful, kind, and dedicated.” An appropriate “pull quote” from the editorial might include, putting together “…his unyielding dedication to his hometown, his thousands of hours of dedicated to the local government and the historical significance of this community, and you have found the perfect Oberlinian of the Year.”
In 2007 I met Mr. Lothrop after he contacted me, having read an article in the Chronicle Telegram highlighting my Museum. The article mentioned I was a student at Lake Ridge. We met for lunch and struck up a friendship because of our shared interest in history and archival work. In a way, and at the time without knowing it, I had taken the torch from Lothrop to further his archival work in order to preserve and display Lake Ridge’s history.
Over the next nearly three years, we exchanged letters and clippings, and I kept him updated on the happenings at Lake Ridge. He attended my Lake Ridge graduation party in 2008. After 2009, we lost touch for one reason or another. Over the last year or so I had attempted to find him, but this effort continued to fail. Just recently I learned he was living at an assisted care center in Oberlin. An auction was held February 14, 2015 at his home in order to empty the family homestead as the house was recently sold.
As a side note, the home at 279 Elm Street in Oberlin has an interesting history that should be briefly explored. From Oberlin College historian Prof. Geoffrey Blodgett, we learn that the house was built in 1889 when a number of professors from the Oberlin College Conservatory purchased property at the west end of Elm Street. This area was known as Hawley’s Orchard, where several new houses were constructed. These houses were built in a “Shingle Style” that was being widely used during that era. Edgar G. Sweet, a professor of pianoforte and singing had the particular house of this sketch constructed by Charles Glenn, known as the “busiest home builder in Oberlin” at this time. Blodgett notes, “In any event, it is perhaps the most innovative of Oberlin’s homegrown contributions to the eclectic Queen Anne phase in American architecture.” The Sweets built a new house farther west on Elm St. after WWI, and at that time Oberlin Chemistry Professor Alfred P. Lothrop purchased the house (he was an Oberlin student from 1902-1907, originally from Leominster, Mass.). Richard, his son, grew up there. In 1960 he purchased the house, returning to the family homestead.
At the February 2015 sale at the Sweet-Lothrop house, I was able to acquire a number of items from his wide and varied collection. Some of these items include: a beautiful antique wooden game table; stacking bookcases with glass doors; a unique miniature clock owned by Alfred Lothrop while a student at Oberlin; numerous books, including “General Catalogue of Oberlin College 1833-1908” and several books given to Richard Lothrop as a boy which are inscribed; a clock made and given to Richard Lothrop marking his retirement from Lake Ridge; a Seth Thomas clock (Mr. Lothrop was a collector of clocks); and other miscellaneous items.