Westlake: The Origin of the Name

An advertisement in a 1930 calendar with a “Westlake” phone number.

Most people know that the city of Westlake began as Dover township, founded as such in 1811 and possibly named for a then-known landmark, Dover Point, along the shores of Lake Erie. Dover was a popular name for communities back then – there were 17 of them according to the 1850 federal census, five of which were in Ohio.

Eventually, there were only two remaining in Ohio at the beginning of the 20th century – Dover Village (having been incorporated from the township in 1911) in Cuyahoga County, and Dover in Tuscawaras County. Even so, it created confusion for delivery purposes. Mail, and even a fire engine ordered for Dover Village, was sometimes delivered to the Dover in Tuscawaras County. As early as 1915, the United States Post Office requested that Dover Village change its name to differentiate it from the other Dover, Ohio.

Finally, by 1940, a committee had been organized, the residents agreed to change the name, a poll was taken and the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas granted the new name of Westlake Village. However, the history books are silent as to where that name originated.

A Nov. 14, 1939, Plain Dealer article revealed that the choices from which residents could select a new name had been “Westlake, Clague Park, Claguewood (the first being the same name as that of the telephone exchange and the other two offered in honor of a pioneer family) and Park Ridge.” Thus, Westlake had been one of the local telephone exchanges in addition to Trinity, Spring, Edison, Orchard and others.

Some may remember phone numbers like TRinity 1-0222 (TR 1-0222) for the North Dover Hardware Co., EDison 1-4463 (ED 1-4463) for Babson’s Nursery & Garden Center or TR 1-3300 for city hall. In time, the alpha-numeric telephone numbers were standardized, and a mapping system assigned three letters to the digits 2 through 9. So city hall’s phone number became 871-3300 which it still is today. Not long afterward, area codes were introduced making phone numbers now 10 digits long.

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Volume 7, Issue 21, Posted 10:02 AM, 11.03.2015