A look at the research used to determine century-home status

The Westlake Historical Society has recently determined that this house at 2650 Clague Rd., once owned by John W. and Katherine Hawkins, dates to 1873.

[The third 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.]

One of the homes recently researched by the Westlake Historical Society at the request of the owner is at 2650 Clague Rd., on a portion of Original Lot 49. This home is a simple farmhouse in a gable-wing configuration with the gable facing the street. Notes and a sketch from Melanie Olm, a former historian with the Society, state that when a previous owner, Mrs. Crane, was doing a remodeling project she found an 1865 newspaper in the wall. However, Ms. Olm found that the 1860 and 1870 appraised values remained the same on the piece of land that the house is located on.

In 1813 Abijah Crosby purchased all 160 acres of O.L. 49 from Nehemiah Hubbard. The land passed through three other owners until Sheldon Johnson purchased all of it in 1835. In 1837 Sheldon Johnson sold 75 acres of the part of O.L. 49 currently under 2650 Clague, by 1857 he had re-purchased it. For the year 1859, assessed values were given for buildings on land separate from the land itself– and no building values are given for any portion of O.L. 49, which by that time was divided into three parcels.

The 1865 will of Sheldon Johnson states: "I give and bequeath to John W. Hawkins fifty acres of land of the farm on which I now reside in Dover Township. … I give and bequeath to Luvina Hawkins wife of John W. Hawkins fifty acres of land of the farm on which I now reside. … I hereby nominate, constitute and appoint John W. Hawkins the Executor of this my last will and testament.” It is not clear where the house that Sheldon Johnson resided in was located, there is a slim possibility but no direct evidence that it was moved or incorporated into the subject home.

Years ago, researcher Melanie Olm found that the 1872 tax records show Sheldon Johnson as the owner of the property on which the subject house is located, the 24 ¾-acre parcel is valued at approximately $30 per acre, the same as the abutting acreage. However, in 1873 the same acreage is valued at $995 total, an increase of $258, while abutting acreage remained at the same value. This rise in valuation was the first that Melanie Olm was able to find for this property in the tax records which was not accompanied by a general rise in value for all properties and also not occurring on surrounding parcels.

An 1870 tax map does not show any structures on the Sheldon Johnson parcels. An 1874 atlas map does show a structure on the easterly frontage of a 24 ¾-acre parcel shown as owned by J.W. Hawkins.

Therefore the year of construction has been narrowed between 1870 and 1874 with a probable date of 1873. Katherine Hawkins, widow of John W. Hawkins was the next owner of the property. We believe that the structure shown on the Hawkins parcel on the 1874 atlas map is the house at 2650 Clague and it should be here-after designated the John W. and Katherine Hawkins house.

For more information about the Westlake Historical Society's plaquing program for century homes in the city, call  440-808-1961 or westlakehistory@yahoo.com. 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 Krause

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.

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Volume 4, Issue 23, Posted 9:38 AM, 11.13.2012