Tour of Wick Avenue Marks Youngstown’s 227th Birthday

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley Historical Society celebrated the city’s 227th birthday Thursday evening. 

The annual birthday event, in partnership with Youngstown CityScape and the city, was celebrated with a cake and walking tour of the history of Wick Avenue. 

Traci Manning, curator of education for the historical society, said most historians put Youngstown’s birth date around June 27, but this year they celebrated a little bit early. 

Manning said the event has taken place at various locations over the years. This year it started at the Arms Family Museum. 

“On really beautiful nights, we can have over 200 people out at this event,” she said. 

The walking tour included dignitaries from the city speaking about Youngstown’s settlement. The tour followed Wick Avenue, looking at various historical locations and what was there before the building of Youngstown State University.

“This is a great mixed audience,” Manning said. “We are going to have families here with small kids. We are going to have adults that want to come out and learn some history. This is one of those nights where we see one of the most diverse and broad audiences of any of our events.”

Wick House was built by industrialist George Dennick Wick.

Some of the highlighted locations included Greystone (the Arms Family Museum) and the home of George Dennick Wick.

Wick was a local industrialist involved with Youngstown Sheet and Tube, General Fireproofing Co. and a lot of the major industries in the area, Manning said. She said by 1912, his health was starting to decline and a doctor recommended he take a vacation.

Manning said he decided to return home after spending some time in Europe and getting better. On the return home, he bought first class tickets on the Titanic for everybody in the family.

“I know Titanic has been in the news a lot lately, and that family was actually on the Titanic,” Manning said. “George Dennick Wick passed away that night, but his wife and their daughter were able to come back and live out the rest of their lives here.”

On the other side of Greystone is the Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church, which was the home where Olive Arms grew up, Manning said. 

“One of the things Youngstown is most known for is The Butler Institute of American Art,” Manning said. “That building has been there for a little over 100 years, but a lot of people don’t know that the collection actually started in Joseph Butler’s home.”

Butler’s home caught fire around 1917, and part of the collection was lost, leading him to want to create an alternative location to store the art. Manning said that is how the art museum came to be what it is today.

The Butler Institute of American Art on Wick Avenue in Youngstown.

One of Manning’s favorite locations to learn about was the history of the World War II barracks that were on YSU’s campus. They were later repurposed to become campus buildings after the war ended.

About 15 sites were included in the walking tour. 

“We have six stops, and at each stop there are two or three different houses or former houses that we are going to be taking a look at,” Manning said. 

The walking tour, about an hour long, started at the Arms Family Museum and ended near the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s Main Library.

Manning said many people love coming to see the old photographs and learn about the changes in the city.

“It is really important to see how things have grown and changed over time with the vision of some of our community leaders over the last 200 years, whether the industrial leaders that used to live here or the community leaders we have today that have turned Wick Avenue into this hub of art and museums and culture and higher education,” she said.

Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church in Youngstown.

Youngstown has seen many changes over the years. 

“If we were back in the founding of Youngstown, this would have been wild forest land as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve,” Manning said.

Manning said over time the area became farmland, and by the late 19th century, Millionaires Row emerged.

“What’s really changed from probably since the 1920s or 30s is really tearing down some of these historic buildings to build new YSU campus buildings,” she said. 

Last year the event was a partnership event at the B&O Station Banquet Hall. Manning said more than 100 guests attended.

Coming up in September is the historical society’s Founders Day Open House.

“We are going to be right back here with a new Wick Avenue walking tour,” Manning said. “Instead of heading towards downtown, we are actually going to head away from downtown.” 

For more information about tours and upcoming events, click HERE.

Pictured at top: Traci Manning, curator of education for the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, outside the Arms Family Museum.

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