Local History

CSU Local History Special Collections Librarian Bill Barrow to speak at WPPL

Bill Barrow, Archivist and Special Collections librarian at Cleveland State University, knows a good deal about Cleveland and the Western Reserve of northeastern Ohio and has made it possible for others to access that info online. His on-going projects at CSU Library include:

  • Cleveland Cartography, a collection of historical and contemporary maps (active since 1996).
  • Cleveland Digital Library, an online reference library that includes digital images, maps, photographs, video, drawings, cartoons and electronic text about greater Cleveland and its history (active since 1997).
  • The Cleveland Memory Project, a gateway to CSU’s Special Collections that includes an online database of digitized images (active since 2001).
  • Ohio’s Heritage Northeast that allows simultaneous searching of six area libraries’ local history collections online.
  • SDS@BGSU, one person’s account of the 1960s in Ohio.
  • Cleveland History Blog of comments and information about local history matters.
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Volume 2, Issue 18, Posted 3:32 PM, 08.23.2010

The Washington Lawrence Mansion

Washington Lawrence, who was born in Olmsted Township in 1840, attended Baldwin University in Berea, Ohio. He was an associate of Charles F. Brush, the inventor of the arc light and the lighting of Cleveland’s Public Square in 1879. By 1886, the National Carbon Company was founded by Myron T. Herrick, James Parmalee, and Webb Hays. A large plant was built on Madison Avenue near 117th St. on the west side of Cleveland. Washington Lawrence became President of the company and served until his death in 1900.

Washington married Harriett Collister and reared seven daughters. In the 1870s, he and his family enjoyed coming to the Dover-Bay Colony in Dover Township to summer in the fresh air. Washington decided to purchase three farms east of the Dover-Bay Colony. They were situated along the lake from Clague Road east to the township line and south to the railroad tracks.

In 1880, he came into the possession of the Dover-Bay Colony next door and invited several prominent citizens of Cleveland to erect cottages on the park grounds. By the summer of 1892, life was going strong at the Colony with the addition of a golf course. In 1889, Washington built a clubhouse so the group had a place to congregate.

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Volume 2, Issue 18, Posted 2:03 PM, 09.01.2010

Hometown Heroes: Jack Miner

In 1944, United States newspapers were publishing eulogies and paying tribute to the fifth-best-known man in North America behind only Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, and Eddie Rickenbacker. The man receiving this tribute was Jack Miner, a noted naturalist and lecturer who was born in Westlake (then known as Dover Center, Ohio) in the year 1865.

Mr. Miner was one of 10 children living in a small frame house that stood near the intersection of Dover Center and Westown Blvd. Jack's English-born parents made a meager living in a brickyard located across the street from the family home. As a boy, Jack chose to work long hours in the brickyard instead of attending school because he was teased relentlessly about his fiery red hair and freckles. He only returned to school at the age of 12 because he was urged to return by friends Jack Rublin, Jack Klotze, Herbert Pease and George Hubbard.

During the years Jack was not in school, he spent hours learning the lessons of nature. The creek that ran near his home was both a play yard and a laboratory. Jack spent a great deal of time studying the creatures that crept and swam there, as well as the lessons he learned about bird life that would become his life's work.

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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 7:33 PM, 08.20.2010

Bay Bicentennial Committee picks 'Letters to the Future' winners

The Bay Village Bicentennial Committee has selected the winners of its "Letters to the Future" contest. Bay Village residents were challenged to write a letter of 300 words or less to the 2110 residents of Bay. Judging took place after the contest closed on July 10, and winners were chosen in three age groups: 16 years and younger, 16 to 64 years, and over 65 years. The letters will be placed in the city's 2010 Bicentennial Time Capsule which will be sealed on December 31, 2010, with an open-date of October 10, 2110 – Bay's 300th birthday.

The Observer will be printing each winning letter, beginning with this one by Caroline Dannemiller, winner of the 16 and under age group.

Dear Reader,

I hope you will enjoy my letter
In it will be some description, complaint and positive things about Bay Village.
Almost everyone here right now loves soccer.
Never use weed killer companies on your grass (they ruined my garden.)

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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 4:25 PM, 08.20.2010

The water tower in Huntington Reservation

At the turn of the century, many wealthy Clevelanders had homes in the city and beautiful estates in the country. Huntington Reservation, on the shores of Lake Erie, was the former country estate of John Huntington (1832-1893), a prominent Cleveland industrialist and philanthropist.

John Huntington was born in Preston, England. His father was a mathematics teacher in the English school system. He made sure John had a good education. In 1852, John immigrated to the United States and Cleveland, Ohio.

He went into the roofing business with his brother, Hugh, and was successful. He soon became a respected Cleveland businessman, and his company was contracted to roof an early oil refinery by John D. Rockefeller. Mr. Rockefeller offered the brothers payment in cash or stock, and John, daring to adventure a little, accepted part payment in stock. He acquired considerable wealth by this venture and eventually a partnership in the Standard Oil Company.

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Volume 2, Issue 17, Posted 9:27 AM, 08.18.2010

The Peterson Family Buildings on Dover Center Road

As you sit at the traffic light facing east on West Oviatt and Dover Center Roads in Bay Village, your eyes see a two story brick building with a sign that reads “Bay Hair.” To the north is a wooden building with a garage behind.

Today, these buildings belong to the John Peterson family. William (Bill) Blaha, who built the buildings, was John Peterson’s grandfather. William Blaha married Mary Januska in 1908 and their daughter, Marie Blaha Peterson, was John Peterson’s mother. In 2007, Marie’s beauty parlor became the longest continuing business in Bay Village when it celebrated 80 years. Five generations of this family have made Bay their home.

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Volume 2, Issue 16, Posted 7:44 PM, 08.06.2010

A history of the Martin's Deli building on Bassett Road

On the north end of Bassett Road is Lake Road and the old Sadler (Saddler) property (Lot #92). Sometime after the Lake Shore Electric Interurban track was laid through their property in 1897, the Sadler family sold a strip of land south of the track on the west side of Bassett Road and a two story building was constructed. The building fronted on Bassett Road with two large windows on either side of the front door. On the first floor was a store with parking in front. Upstairs were living quarters.

Across the street was the Thompson grocery store. It was housed in the old wooden Methodist Church building moved in 1909 from the corner of Lake and Bassett Roads to the interurban tracks. When this building burned down around 1911, the Thompsons moved their store across the street into the empty building.

Bill Sadler and a book about the Lake Shore Electric Interurban tells us the building was built by Mr. Pencik, and he leased it to the West Shore Supply Company in 1919. The West Shore Supply Company was opened to satisfy the needs of the farmers in western Bay and Avon Lake. The store sold grain, grape growing supplies, rope, feed and shovels, among other things. It was similar to the Cahoon Store on Dover Center Road near the railroad tracks. With few good roads, the tracks were the way to transport goods and people.

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Volume 2, Issue 15, Posted 9:10 PM, 07.22.2010

The history of Capoba Lodge

In celebration of Bay’s 200th anniversary landmark year, the Historical Society will feature a series of articles about various Bay Village structures and their history. The first is the history of the 459 Cahoon Road historical house located at the corner of Wolf and Cahoon roads.

This house was built as a result of a special friendship between two pair of sisters and the tremendous generosity to the City to create the first library in Bay Village.

The Cahoon sisters had two friends named Mrs. Pope and Mrs. Bailey. Mrs. Emma Paul Pope was the widow of the Cahoon sisters' minister, Rev. Pope, from the Methodist Episcopal Church in Cleveland. The other friend was Emma’s sister, Mrs. Olive Paul Bailey-Kennard. Both were widowed.

After the Cahoon sisters retired from teaching, they sold their Cleveland home and moved to the Rose Hill farm in Bay Village to live. In 1910, the generous Cahoon sisters built a house south of the barn on their farm to provide their friends with a place to live.

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Volume 2, Issue 14, Posted 2:11 PM, 07.09.2010

Bay genealogical workshops help attendees 'climb' family trees

On June 17 and June 19, the Martha Devotion Huntington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) held genealogical workshops at the Bay Village branch library as part of Bay Village’s Bicentennial celebration. Those attending began to learn how to “climb” –  branch by branch and limb by limb – their family trees.  

“Climbing Your Family Tree” introduced the methods and resources of genealogy - finding and documenting successive generations of ancestors. Who knows, a Duke, an Earl or an American Revolutionary patriot may just be lurking somewhere in your past!

Speakers included Doris Gorgas, Martha Devotion Huntington DAR Chapter Regent; Vicki Catozzi, Western Reserve Historical Society research librarian; and Nancy McGrew, County Public Librarian and DAR Chapter Treasurer. Presented were two methods of record searching for past relations: a manual search of actual documents and records and an electronic search using the how-did-we-ever-get-along-without-it Internet.


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Volume 2, Issue 13, Posted 7:57 AM, 06.21.2010

Our county’s great treasure: the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument

When our nation went to war with itself in 1861, as North fought South, Bay Village and Westlake (Dover Township at that time) sent its sons to fight for the union, as did every community in the country.

While these men, and others, are honored every year on Memorial Day, those who served in that “War of Brothers” from our county are honored every day with the historic tribute to them that stands on Cleveland’s Public Square – the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

All of us who grew up in this area have seen and or visited it as it proudly stands in the heart of Greater Cleveland, artistically reminding us of the sacrifices made for our freedom in every war. This unique and wonderful monument – perhaps the finest in the country - was completed in 1884 and features a 125-foot spire made of polished black Quincy stone with six bronze bands listing the names of 30 battles in which soldiers from Cuyahoga County fought. It’s surrounded at its base by a Memorial Room and walkway of Medina red sandstone.

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Volume 2, Issue 11, Posted 6:33 PM, 05.28.2010

The story of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. The day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868, by General John Logan. It was observed later that same month on May 30 by placing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

The first state to recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890, all northern states had recognized the day. After World War I, the holiday changed from only recognizing Civil War dead to those fallen in all American Wars. In 1971, Congress changed the National Holiday to the last Monday in May.

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated with many local parades and observances including the placement of American Flags on the graves of fallen service personnel. Arlington National Cemetery currently places American Flags on all 260,000 graves, and has since 1948. They then patrol 24 hours a day over the weekend to insure that each flag remains standing. 

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Volume 2, Issue 10, Posted 9:41 PM, 05.14.2010

Westlake-Dover history housed at the Clague Museum

Located at 1371 Clague Road is a beautiful stately old home that was restored by the Westlake Historical Society. Robert Clague originally came to this area from the Isle of Man and purchased 78 acres of land around 1830. The Clague House, built in 1876, followed a log cabin and then a small frame house first constructed on the property.

Robert and his wife, Margaret, raised nine children and were known for being a very close-knit family. The last two surviving members of the Clague family, Walter and Sophronia, donated their land to the Village of Dover (now Westlake, Bay Village, and part of North Olmsted) for a park, with the provision they be allowed to live in the family home until their passing.

When the Clagues finally deeded the family land and home to the Village of Dover in 1929, Victoria Clague was against the idea and fought the dedication. As a result, her name does not appear on the Clague Family Monument located in the park across the street from the Museum. 

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Volume 2, Issue 9, Posted 10:10 PM, 04.30.2010

Looking back: Hometown heroes

Like U.S. Presidents, the state of Ohio has given birth to more than its share of astronauts – reportedly 24. While Neil Armstrong and John Glenn are the most notable, Westlake's own Col. Robert Overmyer is a distinguished member of this proud group.  

Although born in Lorain in 1936, Overmyer always considered Westlake his home. Young Robert's family moved to Canterbury Road, and he entered Westlake schools in the first grade. Overmyer graduated from Westlake High School with the class of 1954.

During the summertime of his high school years, Robert worked at Dean's Greenhouse on Porter Road. The income from this summer employment made it possible for him to attend college after graduation.

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Volume 2, Issue 4, Posted 12:23 AM, 02.20.2010

Looking back... Fashion in the 1890s

The Westlake Historical Society is proud to present "Clothing Styles in the 1890s" by Dr. Marie Albano, D.D.S., Museum Clothing Curator.

The 1890s brought delightful fashions for women after restrictive fashions of the 1880s. Clothing became softer and more practical. The 1890s brought a whole new entourage of exciting new things. Authors such as H.G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw were popular. The safety razor was invented and Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee. Freud was writing his papers, Marconi invented radio telegraphy, and Ford was building cars. Eastman had perfected the Kodak box camera. Edison's electrical lamps were lighting homes.

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Volume 2, Issue 1, Posted 8:50 PM, 01.10.2010

Looking Back: Celebrate a Victorian Christmas at the Clague House Museum

Christmas in the late 1800’s was not commercial – it had more to do with family, food, and the exchange of handmade gifts. Christmas trees in that time period were more simple. People often made homemade ornaments such as cornucopias of paper filled with fruit, nuts and candy. Strings of popcorn and berries were draped across the branches of trees. Beautiful shaped cookies were hung for treats on Christmas day. Often the gifts were also wrapped and hung from the branches. Also popular were molded wax figures of angels and children.

Many ornaments were made of cotton-wool wrapped around an armature of metal or wood and trimmed with embossed paper faces, buttons, gold paper wings and "diamond dust," actually powdered glass. You can experience a traditional Victorian Christmas Tree at Westlake’s Clague House Museum.

Bring your family and friends for an opportunity to enjoy the beautifully decorated tree. Bring your camera and capture a new family tradition. The Clague House (located at 1371 Clague Road) is open every Sunday through December 20th from 2 – 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, check our website at www.westlakeohiohistory.org or call 440-471-4090.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 10:05 PM, 12.03.2009

Looking back... Clague Monument reaches milestone this month


How many times did you go to Clague Park this year? Maybe your family enjoyed the swimming pool, played little league baseball, or enjoyed the playground equipment. Maybe you enjoyed the super 4th of July Fireworks presented by the City of Westlake. Why is the park known today as Clague Memorial Park? 

Robert Clague and family originally came to Dover Township (now known as Westlake, Bay Village, and part of North Olmsted) around 1835. They purchased a 78 acre parcel of land and built the Clague Home in 1876 which stands today at 1371 Clague Road. The Clagues were farmers that became very successful selling apples, berries, and various fruits far and wide. They were also known for helping others, and able to lend money when necessary. 


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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 6:52 PM, 10.20.2009

Cemetery walk

The Westlake Historical Society will be joining the Porter Public Library to host a cemetery walk on Oct 25, 2009. We will meet at the Evergreen Cemetery, 29535 Center Ridge Road, at 2:00 p.m. and enjoy a guided tour of some of Westlake's notable citizens. Mr. Mel Maurer will lead the tour as well as our own Dr. Marie Albano, who will share about the Clague Family. Mr. Maurer will end our tour with a concentration on the life of Mr. Porter. We will arrive back at the library for further conversation and refreshments. Please join us for this very informative and historical afternoon. Please feel free to call the Westlake Historical Society for more information at 440-471-4090

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Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 6:52 PM, 10.20.2009

A look back... School days

As the last days of summer wind down, I’m sure many of you have noted some of our local trees have already begun to change to the beautiful hues of fall. The sun is setting a little earlier each day and a new school year is already underway.

Before the City of Westlake was established, our area was part of a larger area known as Dover Township. This area included nearly all of what is today Westlake and Bay Village, and a few square miles of North Olmsted.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 1:53 PM, 09.22.2009