-by Trustee Michael Cornelis
I wanted to share this with you, in case you had not seen this or may not know, that Frank Elmer had passed away. (Here’s the Dispatch obituary and here’s his bio from his company’s website.) And also you may not know that Frank and his first wife Ruth lived at my house, 862 Mohawk Street. I believe that they lived there during the late 1960s to the mid 1970s. The addition to the house, the garage on Macon Alley, cedar shake siding elements, and other updates are all Frank’s doing. We are grateful to live in a home that is a lasting tribute to Frank’s love and commitment to urban living and historic preservation.
We first discovered that Frank had once lived in and rehabbed much of our home quite by accident. Twelve years or so ago, Susan and I were hosting a wedding shower dinner party for some dear friends. We didn’t know everyone on their guest list. One lovely young lady came into the house and as I was taking her coat she turned to me and said, “you know, I think I’ve been here before.” I said, oh that’s nice or something and then she said, “no, I mean I think I used to live here when I was a very little girl”. So we got to talking and we gave her a tour of the house and as we were touring she asked me if we had replaced the garage. I said, “no I would never do that, I love that garage”. It’s got a weird but really cool and functional design. She then told me that that garage was her dad Frank’s design and that he was now an architect in the Short North. She remembered him telling her that that garage was the first design of his that he actually had ever tried to build by himself. So I told her, come out to the garage with me, I want to show you something. We all went out back to the garage, and there in the cement foundation is the handprint of a little girl named Anne. It was her handprint. She just started to cry a happy little cry. We all did.
Anne helped set up a lunch meeting at the Olde Mohawk for us with Frank and his second wife, also named Ruth. We then walked over to the house and he told us some awesome stories about renovating the house and living in German Village in the sixties. He was a cool dude.
Longtime Villager Connie Swain also knew Frank. She said: “Frank loved nothing more than to study and discuss urban planning issues. He was a huge help in the planning of Heritage America. If he lived here now, he would be all over the 3rd Street planning and be worried and vocal about the Livingston Ave. school property, and the 70/71 split.”
German Village is better place today because of people like Frank. May he rest in peace.