“He was the mildest man I ever knew, with always a kind word for everyone” -a friend of Charles N. Crandall.
Crandall Avenue and Crandall Park in Youngstown are named after his family, which donated much of the land for both Crandall and Wick Park. Crandall lived across the street from Wick Park in a big stone house on Broadway, a well built three story home that is still standing.
He was a quiet man, often seen walking the streets around his home, smoking a long stogie, or attending events at Stambaugh Auditorium, described in his Vindicator obituary as “a lone bystander on the fringe of the crowd.” This lone bystander never married but devoted himself to civic affairs throughout the city of Youngstown. He was devoted to his church, Trinity Methodist Church, giving liberal sums to the remodeling of its building and a gift of $110,000 to Mt. Union College, affiliated with the Methodist Church and for which he was a trustee. He also gave $100,000 to an endowment fund of what was then Youngstown College. Upon his death the bulk of his remaining estate was left to the Youngstown Hospital Association.
He was one of Esther Hamilton’s candy butchers and a member of the Optimists, the Chamber of Commerce, and a number of fraternal organizations. He was active with the YMCA from its beginnings in Youngstown, serving as secretary for its southern camps. He avidly supported the work of the League of Women Voters.
He was able to do all this as an independently wealthy bachelor. His father, Nelson Crandall married Sarah Stambaugh, daughter of pioneer John Stambaugh, the father of Henry H. Stambaugh, after whom Stambaugh Auditorium is named. Nelson Crandall made his fortune working for David Tod‘s Brier Hill Iron and Coal Company. He acquired farm land encompassing much of the North Side of Youngstown, and it was from these lands that Charles Crandall and family donated the land as well as developing the residential neighborhoods around the park.
Born in 1870, Charles Crandall found himself heir to a fortune. It allowed him to pursue a quiet life of civic service, painting, and horticulture. He did all the work on the well-tended gardens around his home. A salesman, mistaking him for a hired gardener, scolded him for not calling “the lady of the house.” He was known as an amateur naturalist who could identify any flower or weed presented to him. One of the few luxuries he allowed himself was summer vacations at Lake Chautauqua, enjoying the concerts and lectures offered there each year.
Nelson Crandall devoted his life to acquiring a fortune as part of one of Youngstown’s early industrial enterprises. His son, Charles N. Crandell spent his life disposing of it in charitable work. He had no heirs. As it turned out, much of Youngstown was heir to his fortune. He died just shy of his 81st birthday after a 20 month battle with cancer. I like to think that the quiet beauty of Wick Park and Crandall Park and the remnants of stately beauty in the built environment of the areas around these parks reflect the character of this quiet man who loved beauty.
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!