The Sylvanus and Mary Crocker House, 29242 Detroit Road, circa 1853

This painting depicts the Crocker family property at the northwest corner of Detroit and Bassett roads. Photo courtesy The Nordgren Family

The Westlake Crockers were descendants of families who first settled Massachusetts in the 1600s. Jedediah Crocker was a Revolutionary War veteran who purchased large tracts of land in Euclid and Dover townships. His holdings included Original Lot (O.L.) 52 – the land where Crocker Park, The Promenade and the Atrium Office Building are now located – and O.L. 63, which includes the land northwest of Bassett and Detroit roads where the subject home is located.

“Pioneers of Westlake, Ohio: Settlers in 1820 and Their Families” by Jeanne Workman has a wealth of information about the Crocker family, as does research prepared by the current owners of the subject house. Jedediah and his wife, Sarah, were founding members of what later became Dover Congregational Church. Their oldest son, Noah, with wife, Betsey, and three children were among the very first pioneers in Westlake, immigrating to Dover in 1811.

Jedediah and Sarah followed, moving from Euclid Township in 1816, with six of their other nine children. Their daughter Betsy started the first school in Dover Township, and was the second bride in Dover. When Betsy was married, her sister Philena took over the school. In 1820 Jedediah served as township trustee. Jedediah died in 1841 at age 80, Sarah died in 1855 at age 92. 

According to information in Dover Congregational Church records, their granddaughter Sarah Philena Crocker, a member of Dover Congregational, occupied their circa 1840 Greek Revival home into the early 1900s. It was located on the northwest corner of what is now Cedarwood and Detroit roads. It was later converted to the Cedarcrest Sanitarium before it was torn down to build the Atrium Office Building in 1978. The 1977 Ohio Historic Inventory form for this then soon-to-be-demolished home lists the original owners as Barnabas Hall but this first-person account conflicts with that attribution. The Barnabas Hall house was more likely located where McDonald’s at West Bay Plaza now exists.

Noah not only began clearing land in 1811 on O.L. 63, it is said that he also worked at a furnace in Elyria. He was also at various times Justice of the Peace, as well as clerk, treasurer and trustee of Dover Township and he was Cuyahoga County Commissioner in 1825. He and Betsey had eight children before he died at age 44 in 1827.  

Jedediah and Sarah’s youngest son, Sylvanus, eventually purchased the subject property from Jedediah in 1839. Sylvanus was born in 1807 in Lee, Massachusetts. He lived with his parents in Euclid Township from 1811 until he moved with them to Dover in 1816. He married Mary O’Brien and they had four children between 1846 and 1857. Mary had emigrated from Clarkson, New York, in 1835. A large portrait of their daughter, Sophronia, who died at age 7 in 1864, hangs in the front parlor of the Clague Museum in Westlake. It is said that they built the home at 29242 Detroit Road in approximately 1853, however it is possibly older.

An 1852 property owner’s map of Dover Township shows “J. Crocker” as the owner of the subject property and a symbol indicating a structure in the location of the subject house. As stated above, Jedediah died in 1841. Unfortunately the tax records to examine for clues of the actual construction date are not available at the current time due to a move by the Cuyahoga County Archives.

The four bedroom, one and a half bathroom, 2,514 square foot home and 1.3 acres with large barn is currently for sale for $325,000. While it is situated on Detroit Road, it is set back far from the street on a parklike lot with hidden drive to Bassett Road which gives it the feel of an estate, and of course it is just steps from … Crocker Park.

William Krause

William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 28 years. I served on the Bay Village Planning Commission for 5 years. I was a member of the Reuben Osborn Learning Center Steering Committee. I am a Board Member and Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 36 years and am the father of three grown children, grandfather of two and owner of two Shih Tzu's.

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Volume 10, Issue 5, Posted 9:36 AM, 03.06.2018