A brief history of early Dover home architecture
The first in a series of four articles on the history of homes in Dover – now Westlake and Bay Village – and the Westlake Historical Society's century-home plaquing program.
Have you ever wondered how old your older Westlake or Bay Village home is? The physical appearance of the house offers clues to the time of its construction.
After the log cabin stage, the earliest and wealthiest settlers to Westlake sometimes duplicated their Federal-style homes from back in New England. This house style is reminiscent of the rectangular shape of the hotel pieces in Monopoly with a symmetrical five-bay façade with central door. The fanlight was a common motif and delicate leaded glass window sidelights sometimes flanked the main door. The derelict 1833 Taylor/Lilly/Glendenning house at 28989 Center Ridge Rd. (across from St. John Medical Center) is a fine example of this style with later Victorian era alterations.
The 1840 Eli Clemens house at 29445 Detroit Rd. represents a transition from the Federal to a more common style for the area – Greek Revival. These homes often have gables facing the street that, with the right roof pitch and heavy trim with returns, recall the triangle-shaped pediment of a Greek temple. Other local examples include the 1834 Charles Hall house at the northeast corner of Columbia and Westwood roads, the restored Thomas Hurst house at 31156 Detroit Rd. and the 1845 Dexter and Amelia Tuttle house at 25547 Lake Rd. in Bay Village.
Until recently, Westlake had a Gothic Revival-influenced farmhouse west of the main post office and still has a very fine example of a Victorian Italianate house in the 1876 Clague House Museum at 1371 Clague Rd. However, most of the 180-plus century homes and buildings in Westlake are plain “no-nonsense” farmhouses with just a hint of classical or Victorian detailing.
We have found that it was not that uncommon in earlier, more frugal days to incorporate an older structure within a new house or move a structure from one location to another. The time of the U.S. Civil War was a watershed change in the construction of houses. Prior to that time most lumber used for the construction of homes was harvested and milled locally, after the Civil War lumber and the latest fashionable home styles were brought to Dover and other parts of the nation via railroad. The first railroad tracks crossing Dover Township itself came in 1881 or 1882. The presence of hand-hewn beams does not necessarily indicate an earlier date of construction because larger beams were sometimes hand cut even when other lumber was available in stock in lumber yards.
The Westlake Historical Society has re-energized a plaquing program for century homes in the city. Application forms can be obtained with a call to the Society at 440-808-1961 or with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. A $50 application fee defrays some of the cost of doing the research to determine if the home is one hundred years old. If it is found to be a century home, the applicant is notified and is eligible to purchase a personalized plaque with the approximate construction year from the Society for $75.
William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 23 years, I have recently resigned from Bay Village Planning Commission after moving from Bay Village to Westlake. I am the Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and a trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 31 years and am the father of three grown children and owner of two Shih Tzu's.