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ISSUE 10 • OCTOBER 2011 • WWW.METROMONTHLY.NET HOMEPLATE
The monthly briefing on what’s going on in the in business, education, health care, sports and more.
Renner was Youngstown’s most-famous brewery. As ‘Remembering Youngstown’ goes into its third printing, we recall the landmark brewery. By Tom Welsh.
‘Explore the Mahoning Valley’ looks at three cultural districts in town. By Emmalee Torisk.
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Features a monthly wine column by John Webster, plus our guide to dining in the Mahoning Valley. Listings by cuisine, location and alpha.
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United Way kicks off Pacesetter Campaign
Show on new immigrants opens at labor museum
he United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley announced the beginning of the Pacesetter segment of the annual campaign at a tailgate style luncheon in late July at the United Way office. The Pacesetter Campaign is an early effort designed to “set the pace” for the annual campaign which kicked-off on Sept. 9 with the community-wide Day of Caring. Nearly 40 local businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations are set to conduct early workplace campaigns for the Pacesetter effort. Representatives from these Pacesetter organizations attended the kick-off event for lunch and to receive their campaign materials. The chairwoman for the 2011 Campaign is Dr. Cynthia Anderson, Youngstown State University president. The campaign goal is $2,600,000, a $100,000 increase over last year’s goal. The United Way has adopted the “Teaming Up for a Better Tomorrow” theme for the 2011 Campaign. The Pacesetter organizations for the 2011 Campaign are: AIM NationaLease, Altronic, LLC, American Red Cross, Associated Neighborhood Centers, AT&T Mobility, Belmont Pines Hospital, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Catholic Charities Regional Agency, Compass Family and Community Services, Emmanuel Community Care Center, Fox Youngstown, Gem-Young Insurance and Financial Services, Inc., Help Hotline Crisis Center, Inc., Hill, Barth & King LLC, Home Savings and Loan Company, Interfaith Home Ministries, HandsOn Volunteer Network of the Valley (HOVN), Huntington Bank, Macy’s Distribution Center, Macy’s Southern Park Mall, Mahoning County Career and Technical Center, Mahoning County District Board of Health, Park Vista of Youngstown, Potential Development Program, Sam’s Club – Boardman, Second Harvest Foodbank, Springfield Local School District, Struthers City Schools, Target – Boardman, Trumbull Industries,
ELECTRONIC IMAGE COURTESY OF JOAN PHOTO
PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS – Lynda Petrella and James Seabrook of East Palestine are the winners of JoanPhoto/Metro Monthly engagement photo contest. The future bride and groom beat other contestants for a series of engagement portraits by JoanPhoto. Pictured above: one image in the photo series.
Turning Technologies, United Methodist Community Center, Visiting Nurse Association, Wal-Mart – Austintown, Wal-Mart – Boardman, WKBN, WYTV, Youngstown State University, Youngstown YMCA, Yurchyk & Davis CPA’s, Inc. and the YWCA of Youngstown Plans are under way for the general campaign which will-kick off on Friday, Sept. 9 with the community-wide “Day of Caring.” The event is sponsored by Covelli Enterprises and hundreds of volunteers from businesses throughout the community will complete service projects at United Way funded agencies. For more information on the Day of Caring, or the 2011 Campaign, call 330.746.8494 or visit www.ymvunitedway.org.
St. Joseph the Provider School moves to Brier Hill Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. has announced that St. Joseph the Provider Catholic Elementary School will moves its school site from its present location in Campbell to the school building located at St. Anthony Parish at 1125 Turin Ave. in
Youngstown. The name of the school will remain St. Joseph the Provider. This move will occur with the opening of the school for the 2011-2012 school year. The major reason for this site change is that a large percentage of the St. Joseph the Provider students reside in city of Youngstown. Moving the school to Youngstown will enhance the school’s ability to better serve the students and their families, making transportation and participation in school events more accessible. Rev. Michael Swierz, former pastor of St. Joseph the Provider Parish, has been named the president of the school and will be responsible for continuing to develop the school in terms of marketing, development, finances, and physical plant. Cheryl Jablonski will continue as the school’s principal and the majority of the teachers will follow the school to its new site. Dr. Nicholas Wolsonovich, Acting Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese, endorsed the move, stating that the school should now be in a more strategic location to better serve the students and families.
Downtown architectural tour set for Wednesday, Oct. 19
he Metro Monthly continues its monthly architectural walking tour of downtown Youngstown this month. It occurs at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The tour begins at the Civil War monument, located on Central Square. The tour will last approximately one hour. Mark C. Peyko, publisher and editor of The Metro Monthly, will lead the free tour, which will cover the history and development of the central business district. In addition, the tour will focus on historic landmarks in the area and recent developments along West Federal Street.
The tour will focus special attention on recent development in the downtown area. Peyko has a master’s degree in historic preservation planning from Eastern Michigan University. His degree focused on architectural history, preservation planning and American settlement. The architectural tour will be presented in memory of local musician and political activist Robert D. Fitzer, who died in 2007 after an extended illness.
METRO MONTHLY ELECTRONIC IMAGE | RON FLAVIANO
The tour will cover downtown landmarks and other points of local interest
omen of the World: A Photographic Journey of New Americans in the Mahoning Valley,” featuring photographs of immigrant women who now live in the Mahoning Valley, opened last month at the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor on Wood Street. The show, co-sponsored by Youngstown State University’s Center for Working Class Studies; the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Gerontology; and by the Center of Industry and Labor, will be on display for a month. The center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The exhibit is part of a larger project to profile “new” immigrants who live in the Youngstown area. Other parts of the project include a radio documentary, informational pamphlet and census data collection. The exhibit, featuring photos from awardwinning photographer and filmmaker Maria Bleahu, provides a glimpse into the lives of immigrant women from across the globe – China, Ethiopia, France, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Palestine, Peru, Russia, Syria, Ukraine and Vietnam – who currently live in the Mahoning Valley. Photos will be mounted alongside a short biography of each subject. Bleahu, a native of Romania, earned a bachelor of arts degree in anthropology and a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography, both from YSU, and is currently head of the video department at Stark State College in Canton. She received a filmmaking certificate from the New York Film Academy. One of her films, “The Fastest Gun in the West,” placed 14th at the Cannes Film Festival and won five award nominations at the Soho Film Festival in London. The “Women of the World” exhibit also includes a video presentation with excerpts from interviews with the women. Launa Buetell of MainStreem Music Inc. designed and created the video presentation, while Rosemary D’Apolito, YSU associate professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Gerontology, conducted the interviews. D’Apolito is also responsible for organizing various aspects of the project. Along with the exhibit, YSU and the Center of Industry and Labor are co-sponsoring a radio documentary featuring interviews from 20 immigrant women. The documentary will air on WYSU 88.5 FM. In addition, a 25-page pamphlet with the history, demographics and biographies of the women will be produced. The exhibit is made possible, in part, by the Ohio Humanities Council. For more information on the exhibit, contact the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor at 330-743-5934.
METRO MONTHLY | OCTOBER 2011
HandsOn offering volunteer placements
andsOn Volunteer Network of the Valley mobilizes volunteers, promotes leadership and transforms communities. For more information, call 330-782-5877 or visit their Web site at www.HOVN.org. At any time during the year, organizations have specific needs for long- and short-term volunteers. If you are involved in a group that would like to adopt a charity, call the HandsOn Volunteer Network and they can help you maximize your contribution. Many nonprofits need specific skills and talents that you may have. Looking for something meaningful to do? Check out our over 330 volunteer opportunities at www.HOVN.org. Some opportunities appear below. Youth Volunteer Corps – If you are a student looking for service opportunities and a chance to develop leadership skills, consider joining the HOVN Youth Volunteer Corps. The organization is accepting applications from student 13 to 18 years of age. Call Gretchen Brown at 330-782-5877 for more information.
United Methodist Community Center in Youngstown and Warren – Opportunities range from tutoring and mentoring children to setting up and tearing down at events. Big Brothers and Big Sisters – These organizations are looking for male and female mentors. Each asks that you sign up for a minimum of one year and that you see your little brother or sister at least two times a month. Meeting with a child even a few times a month will make a positive impact on his or her life. Junior Achievement – Volunteers are needed to teach Junior Achievement’s “Success Skills” class at Choffin Career & Technical Center on Feb. 9 from 8-11:30 a.m. E-mail Nicole at email@example.com or call 330-539-5268.
Mahoning County Dog Warden and Trumbull County Dog Kennel – Dog walkers are needed to exercise and socialize with dogs awaiting adoption. Weekday and weekend hours available. To volunteer in Mahoning County, call Trish at 330-740-2205. For Trumbull County, call Gwen at 330-675-2787. United Way of Trumbull County – Volunteers will assist United Way’s communications and marketing committee with activities, special events, materials design and preparation, Caring Club enrollments, and the group’s golf tournament. Contact Brian Musick at 330-369-1000. Centers for Dialysis Care – Volunteers will call bingo for patients receiving dialysis treatment. This popular patient activity is fun and meaningful for volunteers. Call Kristen Gallagher at 330-540-0102.
HandsOn Volunteer Award Committee – Each year, HandsOn Volunteer Network hosts a community volunteer awards celebration. We are looking for talented and engaged volunteers to assist us in the planning and implementation of the awards celebration. If you have an interest in helping us recognize community individuals and groups for their commitment to service, call 330-782-5877 or email at info@HOVN.org Reading Buddies Wanted – Reading Buddies spend time one-on-one with students in first, second, and third grade helping them improve reading and comprehension skills. Volunteers work flexible schedules during the school day at Kirkmere, Paul C. Bunn, McGuffey, Williamson, or Taft elementary schools. If you are looking for an opportunity that has definite impact, this is the one. Contact Marlene at 330782-5877 or mbraunlich@HOVN.org for more information. Goodwill Industries – Goodwill Amblyopia Screening volunteers visit pre-schools to perform” lazy eye” vision screening on 4- and 5-year olds and report any problems to the Amblyopia Program Coordinator.
Compiled from local reports.
METRO MONTHLY • OCTOBER 2011 9
Remembering the Renner
BY TOM WELSH SPECIAL TO THE METRO MONTHLY
Editor’s note: The following article was originally published in 1994. It appears in “Remembering Youngstown: Tales from the Mahoning Valley,” now in its third printing. This is the last installment of an occasional series culled from the book.
he 75 anniversary of Prohibition passed quietly in 1994 – with nearly as little fanfare as the moment Youngstown’s city breweries closed their doors in compliance with the 18th Amendment. The Renner Co. operated the most famous of these local breweries, but the city had five at one time or another. Cleveland boasted more than a dozen. In fact, before passage of the ill-fated Volstead Act in 1919, there were roughly 1,500 breweries across the United States. Upon Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, Youngstown’s Renner Co. was one of 750 that reopened for business. Five decades later, fewer than 50 American breweries were functioning. By the early 1980s, the site of the Renner Brewery had sat vacant for nearly 20 years. Pike Street, which once connected Oak Hill Avenue and Market Street on Youngstown’s South Side, is closed today. Covered with debris, it bears scant resemblance to 19th-century photographs of the cobblestone thoroughfare were draft horses hauled wagons of beer. The homes that ran the length of the roadway were torn down during the Urban Renewal era, and only the ruins of the Renner Co.’s old keg house suggest the site of a thriving business. In such a setting, it’s difficult to envision this account of the plant’s post-Prohibition reopening, published in the Youngstown Telegram on June 28, 1933: “Twenty-four bottles teetered down a conveyor at the Renner Brewing Co., banged into a steel crate and Youngstown’s first legal beer
in 13 years was ready for a thirsty public … Full production will be reached at the plant late today when 70 workmen in two shifts of eight hours each turn out 4,000 cases and 300 barrels every 16 hours.” Nearly three more decades would pass before the Renner Co., crippled by national competition and demands for expensive new technology, closed its doors
RENNER WAS THE MOST FAMOUS OF THE LOCAL BREWERIES, BUT THE CITY HAD FIVE AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER. permanently. Gilbert “Gib” James Jr., of James and Sons Insurance Agency, described the decline of the brewing company founded by his maternal grandfa-
ther as “part of a larger trend.” The postWorld War II domination of national conglomerates that squeezed out the Renner Co. would eventually undercut the area’s locally owned retail stores and steel manufacturing plants, as well. James, a trustee at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, frequently assembles artifacts to create historically authentic interiors. His most visible project is the Western Reserve Village at the Canfield Fairgrounds. James’ collection of memorabilia from the Renner brewery, however, combines his love of family and history. Among the mementos he has collected are bottles, trademarks, documents, photographs and the weathered lid of a nineteenth century beer keg. More importantly, he carries memories of a way of life that has all but vanished – one that James feels should be remembered. The story of Youngstown’s Renner brewery actually begins in the village of Dannstadt, near Swartzburg in southern Bavaria, where George Jacob Renner Sr. was born in 1835. Immigrating to the United States in 1849 – supposedly to avoid service in the Kaiser’s army – he settled in Cincinnati with his parents. In 1853, after attending brewing school in nearby Covington, Ky., Renner married another German immigrant, Sarah Oppelheim. The second of the couple’s 12 children, George J. Renner Jr., was born 1856. It was George J. Renner Jr. who purchased Youngstown’s City Brewery in SEE RENNER, PAGE 10
METRO MONTHLY | OCTOBER 2011
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RENNER, FROM PAGE 9
1885, reportedly following a trampâ€™s advice that the building was up for sale. Located on Pike Street, the brewery had been established by Matthew Sieger in 1861. Efforts to expand and update the Pike Street brewery were temporarily set back by an 1890 explosion and fire that killed the plantâ€™s engineer and traumatized Rennerâ€™s 7-year-old son, Emil. A 1982 article in Western Reserve Magazine by Gene DeCapua detailed the late Emil â€œSpitzâ€? Rennerâ€™s account of the incident. Renner recalled that he and his mother had just returned from a performance of â€œUncle Tomâ€™s Cabinâ€? at Youngstownâ€™s old Opera House when she asked him to fetch a pitcher of beer from the nearby brewery. â€œTo get through the cellar, you had to go through the boiler house. There was a terrific explosion, and it blew Mr. Richeterâ€™s head off, right at his shoulders. It knocked me against the ice machine and the lights went out, but I managed to get out.â€? Renner added that the force of the explosion blew the boilerâ€™s hood across the Mahoning River. Faced with over $80,000 in damage, George J. Renner Jr. was granted a $35,000 loan â€“ without security â€“ from the president of First National Bank. An additional loan, from a Pittsburgh-based malt salesman, provided the brew master with the resources to upgrade the plant and improve distribution. At this time, Renner introduced amber bottles as a supplement to traditional wooden beer kegs. Around this time, George J. Renner Sr. was also independently operating a brewery in northeastern Ohio. Two years before the explosion in his sonâ€™s plant, Renner Sr. had purchased and upgraded a primitive plant in Akron. James recalled his great-grandfather as a tough-minded immigrant who spoke broken English but â€œran the show.â€? According to James, the elder Renner bequeathed four hospitals and two churches to the Akron community upon his death. His son was also civic-minded. For instance in the late 1880s, the Youngstown brewer financed the building of St. Josephâ€™s Roman Catholic Church, which stood on the corner of Rayen and Wick avenues on Youngstownâ€™s North Side. James suggested that George J. Renner Jr. was a traditional German patriarch â€“ a serious man, who read avidly, consumed a large afternoon meal of sour meats and dumplings, worked long hours at this brewery and relaxed by playing golf at Mahoning Country Club. But if Renner focused on simple pleasures, successful entrepreneurs of the era â€“ before the advent of Income Tax â€“ were expected to live in style. The younger Renner was no exception. On Dec. 16, 1905, the Youngstown Vindicator announced the brewerâ€™s plans to build on the North Side â€œone of the finest residences in this city.â€? Projected to cost $40,000, the SEE RENNER, FROM PAGE 11
METRO MONTHLY | OCTOBER 2011 RENNER, FROM PAGE 10
EFFORTS TO EXPAND AND UPDATE THE PIKE STREET BREWERY WERE TEMPORARILY SET BACK BY AN 1890 EXPLOSION AND FIRE THAT KILLED THE PLANTâ€™S ENGINEER AND TRAUMATIZED RENNERâ€™S 7-YEAR-OLD SON, EMIL. Georgian revival mansion was designed to include 14 main rooms and numerous bathrooms and pantries. It stands on Park Avenue near Stambaugh Auditorium. Ursuline Sister Rosemary Diebel recalled visiting her Uncle â€œSpitz,â€? aunt and cousins at the mansion. She described the magnificent marble staircase, which stretched from the main vestibule to the second floor, and a banquet room featuring golden fixtures and furniture. James remembers well-attended parties where, true to the times, men socialized in one room and women in another. The same year that George Renner finalized plans for the familyâ€™s new residence, his son, Emil â€œSpitzâ€? Renner â€“ a former baseball and football star at The Rayen School â€“ joined the company as a salesman. In 1913, as the business expanded, George Renner officially changed the name of the plant from the City Brewery to the Renner Brewing Co. Five years later, the name was shortened to the Renner Co. Following the Volstead Act of 1919, the Renner Co. made a brief and unsuccessful attempt to market a half-percent malt beverage called â€œR-E-N-O.â€? Unfortunately, the process used to boil the alcohol out of the â€œnear beerâ€? left it with a burnt taste, and the brewery quickly suspended operations. When the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition passed in the spring of 1933, â€œSpitzâ€? Renner was firmly at the helm of the brewing company. Anticipating a $200,000 expenditure to upgrade the plant, Renner hired a then-fledgling contracting company headed by Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. for the remodeling project. In that same year, Renner introduced technology for canning his product â€“ making transportation easier. Given the option of a flat-topped and cone-shaped can, smaller brewers like the Renner Co. selected the latter, because it enabled them to use their old bottling equipment with only slight adjustments. The advent of the tractor-trailer also helped the Renner Co.
MAHONING VALLEY to triple its distribution. These same advances, however, ultimately made it easier for national breweries to compete with local breweries in their home markets. Still, in 1953, Robert Renner â€“ who assumed presidency of the company in 1949 â€“ could announce at that yearâ€™s annual board meeting that Renner beer had outsold all other beers in the Youngstown area for the first time in the companyâ€™s history. But by then the Renner Co. was often losing as much as $50,000 a year, James noted, and the family brewery in Akron ceased production in 1957. Furthermore, technological advances in the industry enabled national breweries to eliminate the bitter edge in their product â€“ resulting in what was termed â€œtastelessâ€? beer. Hearty Renner brands â€“ such as â€œOld German,â€? â€œYellow Brand,â€? â€œGolden Amberâ€? and â€œGrossvaterâ€? â€“ were beginning to seem old-fashioned. As late as 1961, the Renner Co. â€“ amid much publicity â€“ introduced flat-topped cans. But in the late spring of 1962, demolition for Youngstownâ€™s new arterial highway system seriously damaged the Pike Street breweryâ€™s cavernous garages. (The company filed suit against the Ohio Department of Transportation on June 30, 1962, and eventually accepted an out-ofcourt settlement of $82,000.) Some interpret the setback as the â€œlast strawâ€? in what was becoming an uphill battle for survival. In any event, in November of 1962, the Renner Co. ceased operations. The Youngstown Vindicator reported that the plant closed â€œbecause of the depressed financial state of the immediate distribution territory and because of the insurmountable competition of the large national breweries that have come here with their products at local prices.â€? That same year, the Renner Co. signed a contractual agreement with the Fort Wayne-based Old Crown Brewing Co., permitting them to market their products under Renner trade names until 1976. In 1963, the Pike Street brewery was purchased by the Andrews Avenue Realty Co., which announced plans to remodel the structure for use as a light industrial warehouse. When the plan was abandoned, a portion of the brewery was razed. Fifteen years later, the remainder of the vacant plant was virtually destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. Today itâ€™s difficult to mesh old postcard images of the turreted, German-style brewery with the ruin that sits inauspiciously below the former Southside Medical Center. Ironically, years after the Renner brewery closed its doors, an increasing number of Americans are turning to darker, full bodied beers â€“ either imports or those produced by microbreweries; and some of the very elements that fell out of fashion with 1960s consumers, such as the Renner Co.â€™s elegant labels and bottling, are now considered upscale and desirable.
WWW.METROMONTHLY.NET 11 9EARS OF %XPERIENCE IN THE 4REATMENT OF (AIR ,OSS