These historic sites offer a peek into Lake County’s past

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Kirtland Temple is just one of the remarkable places to visit in Lake County, Ohio.

By Mimi Vanderhaven

Punxatawny Phil may have just predicted an early spring, but, hate to break it to you, this is Northeast Ohio—and we’re probably in for a good dose of winter weather to weather.

Rather than holing up in your own home, why not explore fascinating heritage homes and sites here in Lake County?

“The plethora of historic sites open to the public are just a few of the many attractions found in remarkable Lake County, Ohio,” says Scott Dockus, executive director of the Lake County Visitors Bureau.

Here’s a short list of places:

James A. Garfield Mansion, Mentor
In 1880, the soon-to-be 20th president of the United States used his front porch to greet well-wishers as he kicked off his campaign. The carriage house has been turned into a visitors’ center, featuring exhibits exploring Garfield’s life and career. Don’t miss the open house on President’s Day, Monday, February 18, with lots of fun historic activities—presidential trivia contests and crafts—for youth and adults.

• Louis Penfield House, Willoughby Hills
Surrounded by 30 wooded acres, this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home is a structural marvel. Built in 1955, it fits his vision of organic architecture in harmony with nature, with walls of windows and natural woodwork. You can make overnight reservations to stay in this stunning three-bedroom abode.

• Kirtland Temple, Kirtland
Take a walking tour, from basement to bell tower, of this national historic landmark and learn about how the Church of Latter Day Saints utilized it back in the 1830s. This was the first temple built by Joseph Smith and his followers. It served as the center for community life for thousands of Latter Day Saints. By 1838, all but 100 were gone. Enjoy interactive museum exhibits that seek to answer the question why this happened.

• Lake County Historical Society, Painesville
Behind-the-scenes tours take you through the historic 143-year-old building that was once the Lake County Poorhouse. And, for the brave, ghostly Haunted Lantern Tours are given the second Thursday of the month (February 14 and March 14). This eerie, fun-filled adventure is illuminated only by hand-held lanterns and meanders through places where shadows and ghostly figures have been sighted.

The Lake County Visitors Bureau is located in the heart of downtown Painesville at One Victoria Place. Call 440-975-1234 or check out