MANSFIELD, Ohio - One local Mansfield man stumbled upon something so unexpected, its discovery points to the city's historical roots. While working to expand his restaurant, Rick Taylor found a network of caves.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we want to get the bones back to where they need to be,” said Taylor.
And that’s all he was looking to do for his new restaurant Hudson Essex. So he started renovating in the front of the old electric building on North Franklin Avenue and worked his way to the back.
“We were just taking stumps out of the hillside,” he said.
And that’s when he came across something weird.
“I was very surprised,” said Taylor. “It’s really cool, it’s like finding a, I don’t know a silver dollar on the street.’
That silver dollar came in the form of an underground cave that was 15- feet deep.
“Wow, it’s my lucky day,” he said.
“This is where they started,” he said standing inside the Cave describing where the natural part and the manufacturing part of the cave separate.
“We knew that there were caves around, we just didn’t know if they’d survived,” explained Scott Schaut, curator at the Mansfield Memorial Museum who’s been working on brewery history in the city for the past fives years.
Turns out it’s one of a few caves created in the city, and this particular one dates back to about 1867, before prohibition.
“They’re actually cooling tunnels because when you ferment the beer it’s hot. “We didn’t have refrigerators, we didn’t have electricity,” said Schaut.
Today, the cave may take on a new identity.
“I’ll make it as nice as I can, maybe we’ll have events down there,” said Taylor.
It's a hidden gem discovered, but if you know Taylor, he’s not quick to boast.
“I’m just the guy that happened to be lucky enough to own the property,” he said.
Though history buffs know it’s a bit of a gold mine.
“So much has been destroyed, that this is even a bigger deal now than it would have been let’s say 20 years ago,” he said.
Schuster said the discovery is right on point as they’re planning a celebration—five years in the making— of the cities breweries in 2019.