Willoughby Historical Society: An Inside Look

Willoughby Public Library patrons who have used the study rooms, shuffled through the CD collection, or made a trip to the drinking fountain probably noticed a closed door covered in posters related to historical preservation. This crucial gem is the Willoughby Historical Society’s Collection Room. 

Founded in 1961, the main mission of the Willoughby Historical Society is to: 

“enhance the quality of life in Willoughby by continually expanding, preserving, maintaining and making available the artifacts, materials and collections that have shaped our shared history” 

A smattering of these items include: directories, yearbooks, pioneer history, maps of all types, and dozens of photographs. This collection is open to the public. Library staff can assist patrons getting into the room. 

Personally, I appreciated the postcard and photo collections of Downtown Willoughby the most during my visit in the Collection Room. These images, along with the written contents show how the area changes appropriately with the times while proudly maintaining many of the original structures, an eclectic collection of Greek, Gothic, Italianate, and Classical Revival styles. The dedication to maintain original architecture is significant. Over 65 buildings and sites in the downtown area are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Below, you can see both nostalgic similarities and stark differences in these images.

Constructed in 1884, The Willoughby Hardware building stands strong at the corner of Erie St. & W. Spaulding Street. Today, it is home to Fiona’s Coffee Bar & Bakery and offices on the above floors.  

Historic photo of Downtown Willoughby, Ohio
Photograph donated to Willoughby Historical Society, year unknown 
Historic photo of Downtown Willoughby, Ohio
Digital photo taken December 2023 

Known today as the Homestead Bed and Breakfast (est. 2006), this 1884 Italianate Victorian structure has been utilized as a church, railroad boarding house, speakeasy, personal family home, and was at one time home to the Fine Arts Association (now located on Mentor Ave.)

Photograph donated to the Willoughby Historical Society, year unknown
Photograph donated to the Willoughby Historical Society, year unknown
Digital photo taken December 2023 

The corner of Erie St. and 2nd Street over a span of 140 years. That yellow roof marks Mullarkey’ Irish Pub (est. 1996), known for providing an array of domestic and imported beverages and delightful live entertainment.

Postcard donated to the Willoughby Historical Society; top photo shows area during the 1880s, bottom photo shows area during the 1980s
Digital photo taken December 2023

A series of Erie Street throughout the years in postcards:

Digital Photo taken December 2023

Once home to a charming bookshop, this area of Euclid Ave. is now occupied by a variety of shops and restaurants, including Paninis.

Talk to a Willoughby Library employee today about exploring this time capsule.


About Us. (2024). Willoughby Historical Society. Retrieved March 12, 2024, from https://www.willoughbyhistoricalsociety.org/about-us-1

S., Boyd. (2022, October 19). Downtown Willoughby Among Ohio APA Great Places Award Winner. City of Wiloughby, Ohio. https://willoughbyohio.com/downtown-willoughby-among-ohio-apa-great-places-award-winner/

Willoughby Historical Society (2024). Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library. Retrieved March 12, 2024, from https://we247.org/research-learn/student-resources/willoughby-historical-society/

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