The Ravenna Flag Pole
At a height of 150 feet, the Ravenna Flagpole has been a focal point of the downtown Ravenna Landscape since it was first built for Ravenna Township in 1893 by the Van Dorn Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The structure is a rare example of the use of iron structural components developed for use in the construction of bridges and monuments of civic expression. It is composed of a 100 foot riveted steel lattice box lower structure and a 50 feet welded tubular steel pole at the top.
The design and structure of the Ravenna Flag Pole is closely related to other structures such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France and a similar flag pole in Palmyra, New York. Originally there were three similar flag poles erected in New York State but today only the Palmyra Pole remains.
On the move
The Ravenna Flag Pole has been moved twice since it was first erected in 1893. The first move came in 1923 when it was moved 15 feet from it’s original location to widen the road for the increased automobile traffic. Amazingly, this first move took a total of 12 minutes after workers jacked up the pole 8 inches and lowered it onto rails put in place for the move.
In 2011 concerns began to develop concerning the structural integrity of the flag pole. Additionally, several incidents occurred where individuals took it upon themselves to climb the pole requiring rescue by the Ravenna City Fire Department. Trustees began discussions about how to address the flag pole. Suggestions ranged from making repairs, to giving it away, to demolishing the landmark all-together. Trustees finally decided to commission an engineering study to determine the structural integrity of the pole. The resulting engineers report called for $206,000 in repairs which was in addition to the $40,000 spent for the study and work to run a camera inside the main support beams. The nearly quarter of a million dollar price tag nearly doomed the pole, which originally cost $800 to build in 1893.
Friends to the Rescue!
Realizing the historical value and significance of the Ravenna Flag Pole a grass roots effort soon began in the form of the “Friends of the Flag Pole” a non-profit group led by local attorney Peggy DiPaola and Businessman Jack Schafer. The group set out to raise $150,000 and within six months the group raised more than $70,000 toward that goal. Donations continued to flow in, not only from Ravenna residents, but from supporters all over the world.
Trustees agreed to a reprieve for the flag pole to allow the group to raise the necessary funds so that it could be restored. The group succeeded and on July 29, 2014 the flag pole was disassembled and taken to Newbury Sandblasting in Geauga County to be stripped down to bare metal, repaired, and re-painted. On October 22, 2014 the beautifully restored pole made it’s way back into downtown Ravenna and was re-erected on it’s newly poured concrete base. By October 24, 2014 the pole was back home, overlooking downtown Ravenna once again.
New and Improved
The 2014 restoration not only restored the flag pole to all it’s original glory – several additions and imrpovements were added as part of the project as well. As one of the original concerns for Trustees was that of individuals climbing the polce, a secure yet decorative iron fence was erected around the base of the pole. Additionally, a programmable lighting system was installed on the pole to allow for the pole to be illuminated in varying colors and color transitions as needed.
Today the Ravenna Flag Pole again stands proud overlooking our town. It not only serves as a structure where we may proudly display our nations flag, but also as a source of pride and a reminder of what can be accomplished when citizens group together and put their minds toward a common cause.