Akron Life - February 2010

Walks Of Discovery

Russ Musarra 0000-00-00 00:00:00

Charmed by Chestnut We were enchanted by the name—Chestnut Crossing— before we knew anything else about the charming spot along the eastern end of Chestnut Boulevard in Cuyahoga Falls. And, of course, we assumed it had a history worth exploring. What’s that old advice against assuming anything? The name Chestnut Crossing is of recent vintage, according to Jennifer Syx (pronounced like the number six), the Falls’ deputy community development director. It refers to the extremely short commercial section of the boulevard running west from Fourth Street. How short a section? Would you believe 140 paces? That’s the distance between two pairs of decorative stone markers that flank the street. While the name and markers are new, the business district has roots. “This has been a small commercial area for decades,” Syx said. “It’s a quaint area we wanted to highlight.” To do so, the city paved the crosswalk in red brick, added black pipe fencing on both sides of the street and decorated the sidewalk with more black pipe in the shape of bicycles, all designed to maintain the area’s charm, Syx said. A curve was added to the crossing’s section of the boulevard to slow vehicular traffic, she added. The dry cleaning establishment at 440 Chestnut Blvd. Has no sign but it occupies half of a red brick building bearing the name Empire etched in stone across the top. I went inside while Ayers focused on the subject of his illustration. Owner Elie Akiki, who also operates the Magic Shears hair salon next door, isn’t impressed by the decorative improvements. He complained that the city took away parking instead of adding spaces as needed. A sign in the window of the Chestnut Treasure Hut invites passers-by to “Come Find Your Treasures” but the place was closed, as were a pizza and chicken shop And the Chestnut Laundromat the day we were there. Other businesses along the south side of the boulevard included a dance studio, a dry cleaner, two hair salons and an art gallery. Across the street the Boulevard Tavern, the Chestnut Beer Garden, another salon and a dental laboratory dominate the commercial landscape. Artist Ayers recalled going to one or both of the bars with his Beacon Bomber teammates after softball games around 1980. We didn’t stop in either but Vicki Ritterbeck, who works at the Chestnut Beer Garden, told me later that building dates to 1919. Kelly Tannous, owner of Eclipz Salon & Spa at 443 Chestnut, said her business has been there 30 years and that her husband, Adib, operates the dental lab. That was as much history as we could glean from the neighborhood until I spoke to Madeline and Libert Bozzelli, whom we remembered used to live at the other end of Chestnut, where it meets Sackett Avenue on the west side of State Road. The Bozzellis, who now live elsewhere in the Falls, shared a few memories of their years in the neighborhood. Bozzelli, a former member of both the Summit County and Falls City councils, said the name Chestnut Crossing was new to him, too, although he recalled watching the area develop during his 18 years on the city council. They lived on Chestnut for 27 years after their family outgrew their first home on the next street, Grant Avenue, which he built in 1950 “with one hammer and one saw,” and added on to three times, Mrs. Bozzelli recalled. She added a final note that brought us back to the Crossing and slightly beyond. “I used to spank our sons when they went that far down the street because of the gorge,” Mrs. Bozzelli said, referring to the eastern terminus of the boulevard across Front Street from what today is the site of the Sheraton Suites

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