West End (Erie Gardens) is a neighborhood steeped in the history of both Port Clinton and the United States, but there is relatively little public recognition of this fact. I propose that a monument or historical marker be erected to honor the West End’s unique role in Port Clinton, based on the reasons outlined below.
Erie Gardens was built by the federal government around the beginning of World War II to house defense workers at the Erie Ordnance Depôt.
Rapidly built using prefab construction methods characteristic of federal wartime housing, it was intended to alleviate the housing shortage faced at that time in Port Clinton and other factory towns nationwide, as economic production resuscitated in the transition from the Great Depression into World War II. Erie Gardens is a well-preserved reminder of the World War II homefront, which proved so vital to US and Allied victory.
After the war, the neighborhood’s housing stock was turned over to the private market and has constituted a vital part of Port Clinton’s community ever since. With narrow streets but ample community spaces,
West End’s layout facilitates the good-neighbor tradition that has existed there since its first days outside of federal control. West End residents have met the challenges and opportunities of their location with robust community organizations, including the Community Action Commission in the late 1960s and the West End Conestoga initiative.
Lest a crucial part of Port Clinton’s past be forgotten, it is fitting to dedicate a marker in a visible location within West End that will describe and memorialize the neighborhood’s story. I believe this would be a worthy cause for the collaboration of West End residents and anyone interested in preserving the history of Port Clinton.
Gaberiel Lucas DeFreitas
New York, N.Y.