Welcome to Brunswick, Ohio. If this scene looks very familiar to you, then you’ve probably just awakened from a century-long nap, because this is the Brunswick of roughly a hundred years ago (note the horse-drawn vehicles in the parking lot in the foreground).
I have a bunch of pictures taken around Brunswick that I’m going to post at some point — you’ve already met Charles August Rohde and his wife Elizabeth (Woike) Rohde several times in photos probably taken within a crow’s flight of this scene — but I wanted to pause and wedge in this photo of the town square first. It’s printed somewhat lopsidedly on a postcard, on the back of which is written “Brunswick Center as it looked when we lived in Brunswick” and the initials “E.M.R.” Presumably this would be the comment of Edna May Rohde (née Wells), my great grandmother. I have reason to believe her people came from Penfield in the neighboring county, where historical township maps are full of parcels labeled with her maiden name.
This is the center of town, looking west along Center Road. I determined this first by a difficult, knucklehead method; studying the shadows and the angle of the corner sidewalk at the far right — which together can only match one compass orientation of the scene when you look at modern images of the intersection. After making this sharp-eyed calculation I noticed two very obvious, crack-a-skillet-over-my-head clues; first, although its church is gone, there exists to this day a graveyard just west of the intersection that is visible in the middle ground of our photo; and second, the house and barn in the distance are still standing on Center Road further west. Here’s a modern view:
Edna May married my great grandfather William Carl Rohde in 1909, and her annotation leads me to suppose this photo was taken around that time. I don’t think anyone in the family took it because of the fact that it’s a postcard and also because it had to have been shot from the steeple of the church on the southeast corner (visible at lower left in the second, recent photo). But because it was likely a purchased postcard, it could have been sitting around in a drug store rack for a while, and therefore it is not necessarily post-1909. I’m not good with horse-and-buggy dating, so I’m at a loss here.
I love this old photo just because of the elevation and sweep of it. None of my family or their kine are actually captured in this photo (that I know of), but they would have known this corner and this church, and maybe even the inhabitants of the house down the road. -mdf
Image archive ID:
About the physical photograph:
Photo printed on reverse of post card.
Written on back:
Ink: “Brunswick Center as it
looked when we lived in Brunswick
E.M.R.” (initials parenthesized in pencil)
Pencil: “Edna May Rohde”