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Main Street Ravenna is kicking off a series of walking tours of downtown Ravenna to raise awareness of the city's history, while raising money for the fledgling group.
The tours, which kick off June 24 at the Art on Main festival in Ravenna, will be led by local historian Jack Schafer, who also serves on the Main Street Ravenna board of directors.
Schafer said the first tour will focus on "The Riddles and Ravenna," and will be a one-hour loop of the downtown and all 14 Riddle blocks and factories. Schafer plans to tell tour participants the story of H.W. Riddle, who operated his carriage business out of buildings that eventually became architectural landmarks.
"The purpose is to raise awareness but also to raise money," he said. The group, he pointed out, is seeking to raise enough money to cover its initial expenses, including hiring an executive director. Although the tour is free, donations to the Main Street organization will be encouraged.
Tour participants are asked to meet at 2 p.m. that Saturday at the Ravenna Flagpole.
Schafer was a founder of Friends of the Flagpole, which organized a more formal tour of the inside of historic buildings in Ravenna during efforts to restore the landmark. Thousands of dollars were raised in the sold-out tour, which went toward restoration efforts.
Although this tour will be less formal, Schafer hopes this tour and the ones to follow will have similar attendance.
After the June start, tours will be hosted monthly on Thursday afternoons, with the same tour repeated on Saturday mornings, weather permitting. The next three tours are scheduled for July 13 and 22; Aug. 17 and 26; and Sept. 14 and 23.
Future tours are expected to cover several topics, including Boom-Town Ravenna 1870-1930; Post WWII Ravenna 1945-1985; Benjamin Tappan's Ideal Ravenna -- Ravenna's Grid, Public Square, Court House Park; Civic Ravenna -- Court Houses, City Halls, Town Hall, Post Office, Library; Ravenna's Historic Churches; Industrial Ravenna; Hidden Downtown -- What's Up the Stairs?; and Ghosts, Hangings, Murders -- The Famous and Infamous visit Ravenna. Depending on how initial tours go and upon weather, tours could continue into the fall and spring.
Ravenna's Main Street program is an affiliate of the national Main Street program, which helps cities revitalize historic downtowns. The Ravenna group is working with Heritage Ohio to bring the program to the county seat.