“Firestone Park has many stories to tell, and the Legacy Trail is the necklace on which the chapters of its lore are strung like precious gemstones.” Cindy Tyler of Terra Design Studios so describes the destinations in the park which are designated as stops on this historic stroll. The brief narratives which follow describe each of these and the photos and/or artists’ conceptions of some detail their appearance.
It is important to understand that the Legacy Trail includes both the historic Firestone markers as well as those relating to Columbiana’s early history.
Although the key points of interest are primarily in the park proper, a case can be made for including several historic structures in the Firestone Cemetery.
The Firestone Memorial where Harvey and Idabelle Firestone and their children are all interred is a stately monument that dominates the cemetery. Its majestic size, white stone, and classic circular form are immediately evident to anyone entering the cemetery. Beautifully maintained over the years by an endowment from the Firestone Foundation, it proclaims Mr. Firestone’s gratitude to his hometown. It is a history lesson and a family tree, all in one, for visitors to explore.
The other noteworthy structure in the cemetery is a building which has become to be known as the “Stick House”. Its rare architectural style dates back to the late 19th century and is also a combination of the Queen Ann Style. Originally a chapel, it has intermittently been an office, tool shed, and a storage chamber. The roof has been replaced but it is estimated that $15,000 to $20,000 will be needed to complete the restoration. Upon completion it may become a columbarium for above ground storage of funeral urns. The Upper Room Fellowship has been instrumental in donating and advocating for its restoration.
There will be two entrances, formally, to the Legacy Trail. One will be at the newly formed gateway across from the pool house, the other will be via the Lilac Stroll Garden facing East Park Avenue and the stairway into Firestone Cemetery.
The Firestone destinations will include the spot known as “Harvey’s Lookout”, now designated with a historical marker noting the date and details of the Firestone gift of the park to the town of Columbiana. History tells us this is the spot where Mr. Firestone stood and watched as the park was being developed and constructed.
Another destination will be the Lilac Stroll Garden, a recreation of the lilac allee envisioned by Mr. DeForrest as the connector directly on axis with the Cemetery.
The newest and most exciting of the destinations honors Idabelle Firestone. Coined the Idabelle Firestone Gathering Place and Garden, it will be the central feature of the Legacy Trail Loop. It will showcase beloved heritage plants favored in the 1930’s and have an amphitheater lawn and gazebo for community events and musicals.
Another area adjacent to the Lilac Stroll Garden, will be the Great Tree Lawn. Woven among the 85 year old tree giants will be a new generation of tree champions named for Bradford Tingle for whom the Great Tree Lawn and the entire park renovation and restoration is dedicated.
The local historic destinations are two in particular, with others to be named or developed in the years ahead. Hanna’s Cabin, the site of the oldest homestead in Columbiana County, will be memorialized with a specially constructed Ruin, and Hanna’s Spring, the reason for the homestead that was freely shared with weary travelers will be developed into a beautiful spring garden.
The Legacy Trail will also continue across the roadway, past the football stadium, and end up at the Three Pillars and David Tingle Memorial Garden at Mirror Lake dedicated to Harvey Firestone and his great friends, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Tentative plans also include a nostalgic stop at the lake where carvings of “George and Gracie”, the swans of local lore will be resting on the shore.