Kathie Purmal, Exec.Director











Painesville, Oh

     For nearly two decades the Lake County Historical Society’s Clam Crew has turned out the most delicious clambake in Ohio.  Hundreds of clambake connoisseurs and aficionados attest to this fact each fall as they leave that year’s bake fully satisfied with this delicious fall specialty.  Located on the grounds of the beautiful and historic Lake County History Center, the GREAT WESTERN RESERVE CLAM BAKE is a traditional ( N.E. Ohio style) clambake with 1 dozen little neck clams, ½ barbeque chicken, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, cole slaw, rolls and butter.  What makes the LCHS bake especially delicious is the clam chowder provided by Hellriegels Inn in Painesville.  After checking in, guests are invited to stop at the Chowder Tent and then perhaps a quick stop at the Wine and Beer Bar selling ice cold beer and crisp white and red wines.


     Following tradition, the televisions will be on in the museum, barn and bar to capture any Browns action or sporting event filling the airways.  Guests are also invited to play some horse shoes or visit the Historic Living History Village on the site as they wait the serving of the clams.  The bake is served buffet style from 1pm-3pm.  The event is open until 5pm, but the Clam Crew insists the flavor is best if served within this two hour period, so guests make it a point to come early.  Should the weather turn inclement, service will be in the event barn and inside in Heritage Hall.


      After dining, guests are welcome to enjoy the live music, enjoy a beverage from the bar, play some corn hole or horse shoes or visit the museum.  The Lake County History Center Museum is located on the grounds and visitors will definitely want to save time to visit the special Civil War exhibits that line the three main exhibition halls.  The exhibits cover the Civil War experience from the Underground Railroad in Lake County to the surrender of Lee at Appomattox. Due to the construction of a new exhibit, the “Civil War Little Theatre” will be closed during the bake.


     Clambakes are common in N.E. Ohio this time of year, however, few realize the only clambakes in Ohio are in this part of the state.  Many partake of the bakes thinking they hale back to the early 1800s when the first settlers came into the Connecticut Western Reserve bringing their New England culture with them and thus a taste for clambakes.  However, clams have a very short life span on the trail and any pulled from Lake Erie were not popular with  New England pioneers and the bake disappeared from local culture before it even began.  However, 100 years later, the popularity, growth and speed of the railroads changed the culture of N.E. Ohio.  Trains traveled between Cleveland and New York within 20 hours.  Wealthy Cleveland families sent their sons to Ivy League colleges back east and families formed connections and made visits to the east.  Wanting to bring back souvenirs of their travels, turn of the century hostesses turned to the unique and welcoming informal “Clambake” they had experienced with their east coast hostesses.  They could afford to have the clams and other New England goodies sent in iced barrels carried by speeding rail cars from the east.  Once here, these hostesses, primarily on estates in the Little Mountain area, Kirtland Hills and Waite Hill hired local residents to help set-up and serve the clambake.  The practice spread into the wealthy homes in Mentor  and west into Millionaire’s Mile in Wickliffe.  As more help was hired, more local residents had their first taste of a clambake and delighted in what they were eating.  As railroad shipping became less expensive, this popular fall event gained popularity among the regular residents of N.E. Ohio, and the tradition spread.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Make this fall your time to enjoy this traditional N.E. Ohio favorite.


     Guests attending the bake at the Center are reminded that Reservations are limited and required for the Great Western Reserve Clambake.  Contact the Society at 440-639-2945 for credit card reservations.  Reservations may also be made online at Cost is $25 for members / $28 non-members.

An extra dozen clams are $8.00 and kids meals of pizza and hot dogs are $3.00.  The Lake County History Center is an 8-acre site located at 415 Riverside Dr., Painesville Township, just minutes of I90 at the Rt. 44 exit. Visit the website or call for directions.