hen Jodi Ray Young got her iPad mini two years ago, she started taking photos of old buildings in Akron.
She decided to start a Facebook page to post her shots, as well as historic photos that she came across.
At first, it was just Young and her son, Jordan Young, who were members of the Akron Ohio Historical Buildings Facebook page. By last Christmas, the number had grown to 650 or so.
But in the last few months, the number has more than tripled and now more than 2,300 people are members. They update the page several times a day, with new photos of old buildings or old photos of places long gone.
Young, 44, a registered nurse with Summit Adult Day Services from Lake Township, grew up in Akron and spent much time downtown when she was in high school at Akron’s Central-Hower.
But with her iPad, she began documenting things she saw, including abandoned houses, factories and historic buildings and places she would run across as she explored the city.
“It intrigues me to see what once was and no signs of it today,” she said.
Jim Schweitzer, 45, of Medina, an investigator for a law firm, is a regular on the page. “The Facebook page has the ability to connect us all to our city’s past,” he said.
Nicole Reed Boberg, 37, of Akron, recently posted a photograph of a home once owned by B.F. Goodrich, now the site of the AT&T building in downtown Akron. The home belonged to her great-great-grandfather, Dr. A.M. Cole.
“I love that so many people love this history in Akron and appreciate it enough that they are trekking around the city to take photographs to post,” she said.
One of those who travels around looking for old buildings and scenes to photograph is Richard Gulledge, 59, a Thistledown Racino retiree who lives in Akron’s Goodyear Heights neighborhood.
On a recent morning, he and his wife, Mary, and Young explored around Lock 10 of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail near downtown, looking for interesting things to photograph.
“The Aetna Mill used to be here,” said Young during the walk.
Earlier in the week, Gulledge had posted photographs of the Hower House in Akron, taken with the Sony Cybershot digital camera he bought after selling $500 worth of old baseball cards.
A Facebook member must request to join the group but all requests are approved, Young said. She said she is thinking about writing a history book about Akron after her two years of experience administering the fast-growing site.
Leianne Neff Heppner, president and CEO of the Summit County Historical Society, knows Young because she volunteers at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron and also is a member of the Facebook page.
“Jodi has done an amazing job in researching and sharing our local history,” Heppner said. “I’m really happy for her to receive notice, as she donates a lot of time and talent to helping local residents know more about their community. As a transfer to Akron, I love the collaborative and connective spirit of the city. Jodi is an important piece of that connection.”
Ann Shaul Garber, 62, who retired from the development department at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, said, “I’ve really enjoyed this page and love to reminisce about Akron, especially in the ’50s and ’60s when I was a child.”
Clifford Carter, 59, of Cuyahoga Falls, is impressed with the research so many have done in posting pictures and answering questions raised on the site. “A lot of my ‘whys’ have been answered through the knowledge of all those participating,” he said.
In recent weeks, discussion arose about a large home built in 1935 that once belonged to Russell Firestone, son of Firestone founder Harvey S. Firestone, that is now for sale in Fairlawn.
For an “Akron Then and Now” update, Young posted a photo of the church where Sojourner Truth gave her historic women’s rights speech in 1851 alongside a photo of what is at the site now: the Summit County Job and Family Services building on North High Street.
Akronite Harriet Chapman, a regular reader of the page, said it is great to connect Akron history with the wonders of social media.
“Those who love history, and the ability to observe the evolution of a place through photographs that mark time, truly enjoy being from a place like Akron, which has seen growth that paralleled the nation’s growth, and whose landscape of rivers, canals, farms, valleys, hills and fields is so interesting,” she said.
Young snapped photos of the spot near Lock 10 as she looked around for things to put up on the page.
“I’ve never been back here,” said the woman, whose first post was an old photo of a factory on Bartges Street at South Main. “It’s pretty neat!”
Because Young is so immersed in local history, she said she gets a big charge out of finding old images.
“It still fascinates me if I see a new picture because I have seen them all,” she said.
To see the Akron Ohio Historical Buildings page, go to www.facebook.com/groups/433582649997911/. Other Akron history Facebook pages are You Know You’re From Akron … with more than 6,500 members, and the History of Akron & Summit County Facebook page with more than 3,600 members.