Horse and buggy ATM clip-clops back to Wellington’s LorMet

454
Provided photo
The LorMet Community Credit Union on North Main Street in Wellington is once more home to a horse and buggy. This time the art installation has been designed to withstand the elements.

JASON HAWK
EDITOR

If you heard the clatter of horse hooves up and down Route 58, it may have been the Wellington Transfer Co. buggy rolling into town.

It’s now permanently parked at LorMet Community Credit Union at 216 North Main St., breathing a bit of historical flavor into the branch’s ATM.

LorMet President Daniel Cwalina commissioned an Amish-themed horse and buggy at the branch back in 1999.

There was a little resistance at the time — he remembers one objection that it would paint Wellington as a “one-horse” town.

Instead, “Ye Old Automatic Teller Machine” became a celebrated monument to the past.

The community quickly embraced the piece and it became a destination for travelers seeking the hospitality of the white picket fence village. “It wasn’t going to be corny. It wasn’t going to be a caricature,” Cwalina said.

“We never believed that that being creative and complementing the historic village of Wellington’s rural charm, we would have established a southern Lorain County landmark,” said Cwalina.

Facing wear and tear from the weather, the wooden structure was removed in 2015.

That could have been the end for the ol’ horse and buggy.

Cwalina said the credit union had considered abandoning the idea of rebuilding the iconic ATM installation, leaving residents feeling disappointed.

“A few days later while driving by the Wellington branch, I saw a mother put her young son on the buggy for a picture,” he said — and that’s when he resolved to have the buggy rebuilt.

This time, it would be made to last.

Cwalina turned to the Lorain Body Shop & Collision Center at Joe Firment Chevrolet, and fabricator Jack Betka.

A master craftsman, Betka used steel to create the new horse and buggy in the image of a Wellington Transfer Co. coach.

In the 1800s, visitors who came to town via rail would find the company’s coaches ready to carry them to the Wellington Opera House, according to historian Al Leiby of The Spirit of ’76 Museum. The company would also deliver packages that came in by rail.

Cwalina said the new ATM piece is a tribute to “the unsung heroes, people who have great talents, work every day in the furtherance of the American dream.”

In the 20 years since the first buggy was built, LorMet has grown from a small credit union with $89 million in assets to $187 million today. Founded in 1936, it remains the oldest chartered credit union originating in Lorain County.