Local residents share 'Memories at the Mac'

Suzette Lowe

Built in the late 1800s by the McIntosh family, the house on Henrietta Street is filled with memories.

Lovingly called “The Mac,” it recently saw the resurgence of local musicians performing on its steps. The Johnny Staats Project performed there to a sizeable crowd in early June.

Although much of the building was impacted by a devastating fire, the memories have survived.

Chuck Wise was part of a historic event that occurred at the Macintosh House, although he wasn’t truly aware of its importance at the time.

“I was only 8 years old,” he said. “But I got to shake hands with John F. Kennedy when he came to campaign in 1960.”

Wise’s family had moved to the town from Cowen after his father got a job at Kaiser Aluminum, the largest employer at that time.

“I remember sticking my hand out for him to shake and, of course, he did,” Wise recalled. “I knew it was really important to my parents but I wasn’t really aware of the significance. Now, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I was able to walk right up to him.”

For Wise, what was more important was all the days he spent swimming in the pool at the NYA Hall and the McIntosh House.

“I think I spent every summer day swimming in that pool,” he said. “And every Saturday, a lot of us kids went to the NYA Hall to go to KICKS. I can’t remember what that stands for but it was for employees and families of Kaiser. We got to see movies, eat popcorn and play games. We even had KICKS shirts we’d wear each time.”

Because at the time there were no restrooms in the NYA Hall, everyone eventually made it through “the tunnel” to the McIntosh to use the facilities.

For Robert “Bo” Hartley the NYA Hall and the McInstosh are intertwined.

“I must admit, my experiences were a little ornery,” Hartley said with a laugh. “If you had enough nerve, you could high dive off the roof into the pool. I never did that, but I shimmied down the back of the building a time or two.”

There’s no doubt in Hartley’s mind today that the city police knew he and his buddies were up there.

“There was a fountain at the east end and we’d be trying to hide behind it,” he said. “Looking back, I’m sure they knew because their offices were below the NYA Hall, but we never got in trouble.”

Just as Wise had his KICKS, Hartley had his Teenagers Club.

“If you were lucky enough to have a date, you were golden,” he said. “But most of us didn’t, so the girls would be dancing together on one side of the room and we boys would be hanging together on the other side.”

Hartley said the boys would be trying to get the nerve to ask a girl to dance but usually wouldn’t until the last dance.

“We’d be hitting the jukebox button multiple times until we’d get “Put your head on my shoulder,” he said. “That was always the last song.”

Eventually Hartley took a young lady named Bobbie Henderson to the dance. She later became his wife, and they held their wedding reception in the McIntosh House.

Hartley remembered another group call the 14 Club which organized formal dances. Some names involved, including Ritchie, Boso, Chambers and Hartley among others, are still familiar to Ravenswood.

“I attended one of those dances with Bobbie,” he said. “It was very formal. I remember I was in a white suit with a plaid cummerbund and Bobbie was wearing a floor length gown that I think was pink. One formal dance was enough for me.”

Hartley recalls the couples entering by way of the McIntosh House, leaving their outerwear at the hatcheck room, going up the stairs to a long room filled with food. They would then cross the tunnel into the NYA Hall where the dance took place.

"It was something to see," Hartley said. "That hatcheck position was one a lot of people wanted. You got some great tips."

The connection of the McIntosh House to the NYA Hall was also a strong memory for Dee Scritchfield.

“Getting to go into the McIntosh House was always an experience,” she said. “I would always just stop and take in all the decorations, furniture and history of that place.”

She recalls stopping at the piano on several occasions.

“I really couldn’t play but I couldn’t resist tickling the ivories,” she said. “When our graduating class came back to Ravenswood for the 100th year of football celebration, we made a point of getting our photo taken at the McIntosh building.”

Even though it was a community building donated to the town by the McIntosh family, Scritchfield said it was also a home to her and her friends.

“It was common to sit on the porch and chat or cool off after riding our bikes,” she said.

The McIntosh was also home to many civic groups.

Scritchfield said her son Jeremiah went to Cub Scouts at the Mac. The local Lions Club and the Ravenwood Civic Club, The Ravenswood Woman’s Club and he Women’s Democratic Club met there.

“Our family has been using the McIntosh for four generations,” Scritchfield said.

Renee DeLong’s fondest memory involves vying for Queen Daphne who reigned over the Ohio River Festival.

“That position was seen as one of importance and huge responsibility,” DeLong said.

While it was a fun experience for DeLong, she said it was a bit intimidating to be surrounded by so much history, particularly with the photographs.

“I do remember I did not win the title,” DeLong said with a smile. “Sherry Woods was chosen. I think I fit the Sandra Bullock character from the movie 'Miss Congeniality' much better.”

For Katrena Ramsey, who heads the Ravenswood Board of Parks and Recreation, ghostly encounters were part of her experiences at the stately home.

“I really don’t believe in ghosts,” she said. “But some strange things did happen. I spoke with Mary Jean McIntosh Davis whose family built the house and donated it to the city. She smiled and said, ‘I know the ones because I had them, mom had them, grandma had them, the same exact ones.’ So who knows?”

One thing Ramsey does know is that The Mac isn’t finished providing memories.

“We are going to do everything in our power to restore this historic treasure,” she said. “We have so many who love this place, who hold it dear to their hearts. There are many more memories to be made here.”