In 1797, Charles Parker, a surveyor with the Connecticut Land Company, built a cabin on the marsh, thus paving the way for other pioneers to establish what was then called the Western Reserve Territory. The city’s name originated in Greek literature - Mentor was the tutor of Telemachus, the son of Odysseus. Many other place names in the Western Reserve, including Solon, Euclid and Macedonia, were also inspired by the early Americans' fascination with the ancient world.
According to advertisements and rumors that spread from farmhouse to village, this new land in the West was not a grim wilderness, but Eden itself, an earthly paradise where the ground was level and fertile and the climate mild.
The pioneers traveled mostly by horse and brought covered wagons loaded with their possessions - a bed, a chest, some quilts and featherbeds and perhaps a trunk full of clothing. They also brought with them a sense of community, which resulted in the quick establishment of churches, schools and libraries. Over the years, this young farming community grew: foot trails became roads, and farmlands gave way to nurseries. Ultimately, Mentor became a major commercial center.
Today, Mentor is thriving economically and is home to the corporate headquarters of a number of large national and regional companies. International business also has a significant presence here, strengthened by the area’s easy access to the St. Lawrence Seaway and Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland. Manufacturers would be hard-pressed to find a better location for export business. This, of course, translates into abundant jobs for area residents. Mentor’s work force is highly skilled, with employers putting a tremendous premium on education and training. Satisfaction among employees is rated at or near the top of most state surveys, especially for local teachers, who average the highest salaries in all of Ohio.
Complementing the outstanding working environment is the city’s hunger for entertainment. On weekends and holidays, this area transforms into a large play center that brings out the child in everyone. Residents of Mentor and Lake County have many opportunities to fish, boat and swim, thanks to the presence of Lake Erie and the two rivers running through the city. Area beaches come alive in the summertime, with visitors migrating into the city from all over the state. Headlands Beach State Park, Ohio’s longest beach, is a popular destination with its barbeque and fire pits, camping and picnic sites, incredible views, and other amenities.
The city’s award-winning park system also turns heads, with many hiking and biking trails winding through wooded areas and lush green landscapes. Whether on or off the designated pathways, residents and visitors alike are astounded by the variety of wildlife they see, most notably birds. Lake County and its waterfront towns, including Mentor, frequently make headlines with rare bird sightings. More than 30 species of plowers, sandpipers, and other wading and shore birds can be observed along Lake Erie’s shoreline. Complete descriptions of the region’s bird population are outlined in local museums and other educational centers.
The city of Mentor has been blessed with some of the most fertile soil found anywhere in the country. In fact, the local nursery industry is a national leader and carries a legendary reputation in agricultural circles. Consequently, the area’s well-established wine industry is also nationally recognized, thanks to soil and climate conditions ideal for grape production. The largest winery in Ohio, the Chalet Debonne Winery, is located on the outskirts of Mentor, and many regional events take place here throughout the year. During the spring, the parking lot fills with hot air balloon and classic car enthusiasts drawn by the shows the winery hosts; summertime brings cookouts, typically accompanied by live music. Things settle down during the winter, with visitors coming inside for a nice dinner and a glass of wine by one of the warm fireplaces.
With all these attractions and more, it is easy to understand why local residents cherish their beautiful waterfront community. The area boasts an excellent educational system, an advanced public transportation network of roads and highways connecting the city to its neighbors, and a well-organized, well-balanced local government composed of leaders from the commercial, industrial and political arenas. Such leadership has translated into prosperity and riches for area residents in the forms of affordable housing, incredible amenities and awe-inspiring beauty. If attributes like these encompass what you are looking for in a community, then Mentor is definitely the right place for you.
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