Friends of the Flagpole work toward goal of raising $150,000 for restoration

Michael Jermann

A 120-year-old iron flagpole in downtown Ravenna has become the center of attention for a small group of citizens trying to raise money to restore and maintain the historic landmark.

The Friends of the Flagpole Association, a community-based organization established to preserve the flagpole, has raised almost $80,000 of the $150,000 needed to repair and preserve the flagpole.

“The $150,000 will go toward restoring the flagpole, installing mood lighting and putting up a fence around it,” said Peggy DiPaola, who co-founded Friends of the Flagpole.

According to DiPaola, the 150-foot flagpole was constructed by the Van Dorn Iron Works Company of Cleveland and was built in the same manner as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which had been built four years prior.

The flagpole is located just miles down the road from Kent’s own historic monument, the Franklin Hotel, which is currently undergoing its own restoration, though the flagpole predates the hotel by nearly 30 years.

After its construction, the flagpole acted as focal point of the town and its political center during the early 1900’s. Presidential hopefuls such as Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft all spoke beneath the flagpole, DiPaola said.

“The flagpole is a significant and unique landmark in Ravenna,” Mayor Joseph Bica said. “It makes the community stand out in Portage County.”

The city of Ravenna has not put any funds into the restoration project, but it is helping Friends of the Flagpole by providing website access and letters of support. Once the money has been raised, city crews will also help with the disassembly, reassembly and installation of the restored flagpole, Bica said.

The money for the restoration comes only from donations by individuals and local businesses, DiPaola said.

James Coll, owner of the Triangle Pharmacy, located next door to the flagpole, said that he planned on donating $100 to the restoration fund.

“I think it’s worth saving,” Coll said. “That flagpole has been a part of Ravenna and its landscape for a long time.”

“I say keep it,” said Scott Hutchinson, nephew of the owner of Guido’s Pizza of Ravenna, located across the street from the flagpole. “I know my uncle will probably donate some money to the restoration.”

The catalyst for the movement to restore the flagpole began after an inspection showed it was in need of significant repairs, Bica said.

According to the group’s website, the flagpole was moved 15 feet from its original site in 1923 in an operation that took all of 12 minutes.

Contact Michael Jermann at [email protected].