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WKSU is looking for the answers to the questions you have about Ohio in a project we call "OH Really?" It's an initiative that makes you part of the news gathering process.

The road to Blossom is paved with Steels Corners. OH Really?

Steels Corners Road near Blossom Music Center
Google Earth
Thousands of visitors travel on Steels Corners Road to Blossom Music Center every year. But is the road's name being spelled correctly?

Certain city, neighborhood, or street names always rouse spirited debate in newsrooms when it comes to spelling and punctuation. One instance in Summit County is also part of a question we received for our “OH Really?” team.

Whenever I drive through Cuyahoga Falls heading to Blossom, it’s a bit of a time trip for me, especially at one particular intersection. There was the Gold Circle department store, replaced by the offices of a chemical company. The Bob’s Big Boy next to it? That’s now a Mexican restaurant. Up the street, the State 8 Roller Dome and Akron Agora are both long gone, as is the BK Drive-In and its single hole of mini golf. They were all once clustered near the corner of State Road and Steels Corners Road. And that brings us to a question from Jon Secaur of Kent.

“My Dad—he wasn’t an ordained minister or anything—but he would speak at churches to fill-in for people on vacation. And there was a Steeles Corners Christian Church right there. That’s how I first knew of it, just as a little guy, going with my family to hear my Dad preach in that particular building.

“Growing up in this area, I’ve always known about Steele’s Corners, spelled S-T-E-E-L-E-S, three E’s altogether. And lately I’ve noticed a lot of stores and businesses and addresses have dropped that third ‘E.’ I’m assuming it’s named after somebody named Steele. I wonder who that is, and I think we’d want to honor them by spelling their name correctly.”

Take me to church
The church building is still there, now called Steeles Corners Community Church – three E’s, no apostrophe. I wasn’t able to get hold of their pastor because it turns out that Easter is their busy season. I did briefly speak with their business manager, who said the church was established in the 1950s. And all of their paperwork since then has shown consistently inconsistent spelling and punctuation for Steels Corners.

Steeles Corners Church.JPG
Kabir Bhatia
Steeles Corners Community Church was founded in the 1950s, and its business documents since then show a myriad of spellings and punctuation for "Steeles."

Taking the Falls
For some clarification, I reached out to Kelli Crawford-Smith. She’s with the City of Cuyahoga Falls’ Community Engagement Department and says this whole thing started with the Steele Family, with three E’s, and the road which bears its name today.

“According to engineering records, the road was originally opened in 1889, but at the time it was named Botzum-Wyoga Road.”

But people had been informally calling it “Steele’s Corners” since the 1830s.

“The road is named after Adam G. Steele, who lived in the area in the early-to-mid 1800s. He operated a water-powered mill at Mudbrook in the early 1800s in Northampton Township -- and now that land is in the city of Cuyahoga Falls. Mr. Steel likely lived on the road, but it's not possible to determine exactly where based on our existing records. There was a school at the intersection of State Road and Steels that was built in the early-to-mid 1800s and it was named Steele’s Corners School.”

Taking aim at nickname
So the area attracted a nickname which eventually stuck. But how is it spelled?

“Officially, it’s ‘Steels Corners.’ It's been spelled many ways throughout the years. It's been spelled ‘Steele’s Corners,’ ‘Steel’s Corners,’ ‘Steele Corners,’ and then ‘Steels Corners,’ which is how it's spelled now. Mr. Steele—we've discussed Adam G. Steele—spelled his name S-T-E-E-L-E. And then when the road was renamed in 1945, the ‘E’ at the end of the ‘Steele’s’ was officially dropped, giving us ‘Steels Corners’ with no ‘E.’

“We can't find in the records [why they did that]; it just says that when it was officially renamed they dropped the ‘E.’ But it had been spelled so many different ways. I'm sure in just trying to make things more fluid, or perhaps more standard, they dropped the ‘E,’ finally.”

Crawford-Smith says this is the first time the city received this question.

“It was kind of exciting for us because we got to dig into some old engineering records on our end and do a little historical research. It's not a commonly asked question so we're excited that it came to us because we learned something new right along with everyone else.”

So for now, we’ve learned that Steels Corners Road is spelled with two E’s and no apostrophe. And there’s nothing in the historical files to explain what happened to that third E and apostrophe which honored Adam G. Steele. Now, if we could just solve the mystery of Kamm’s Corners or Corner, there will be peace in the ideastream newsroom.

OH Really? is WKSU’s podcast which makes you part of the reporting process. Ask your question now:

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.