Cooley historical marker contains error

George L. Cooley grew up and was most likely born in the house built by his grandfather, Asher Cooley, at 2871 Dover Center Road. Photo by Will Krause

The one thing that I am hoping for Christmas from Santa is a corrected Cooley historical marker under my tree. In an ongoing effort to bolster the importance of the Asher Cooley house at 2871 Dover Center Road, an error on the Ohio Historical Marker needs to be corrected. The marker was dedicated in 2015 and placed next to a meandering driveway off Dover Center Road, east of the current police station.

The marker, as well as the promotional material written at the time, states of George L. Cooley, the subject of the marker: “He was born on a farm at the northwest corner of Dover and Hilliard Roads in Dover Township.” This is not true. George L. Cooley was most likely born and raised on the family homestead, known as the Asher Cooley house, which still stands at 2871 Dover Center Road, south and across the street from the Porter Library drive which connects with Dover Center Road.

The inaccurate words could be chiseled out and replaced with “He was a born on a farm near the southeast corner of Dover and Center Ridge Roads in Dover Township.” With a little more research we may be able to say: “He was born on his grandfather Asher Cooley’s farm on Dover Center Road in Dover Township.”

After Asher died in 1853, the homestead was purchased from the estate by George L. Cooley’s father, John McCrea Cooley, and it was where John and his wife, Lucy, raised George L. and his siblings. The Asher Cooley homestead was passed on to Arthur Cooley, George’s older brother in 1895, before John died in 1907.

The property then passed on to Arthur's wife, Flora, when he died in 1927. When Flora died in 1933 it passed on to Arthur and Flora’s three children. In 1944 their son, Dr. Richard S. Cooley, sold the family homestead to Frank and Claribel Power. The home remains in the Power family today, though it is currently up for sale.

At the time of the marker placement in 2015, I was asked to research the proposed location of the marker to make sure that it had been owned by George L. Cooley. It was, but only after the death of his wife, Clara. Clara Elizabeth Hall Cooley was deeded 34 acres of land by her parents, Reuben and Matilda Hall, in 1888, shortly after she married George L. Cooley.

It was on this land, in about 1890, that George L. Cooley constructed a house which was located just north of the driveway between the old Westlake Municipal Building and the Police Department garage. It was there that George and Clara raised their family.

The land remained in Clara's name until she died in 1927 and it passed to their seven children, subject to her husband George L. Cooley’s dower rights. The circa 1890 house was most likely torn down when the old Municipal Building was constructed in 1954.

A “milk house” that George had built with his sons during the Depression survived at least until 1969 and was the location of the first offices of what later became Westlake’s Planning Department.

One thing is clear, Santa delivered many gifts to Cooley children up and down Dover Center Road for many years. Hopefully he always checked his list twice and got the right gifts to the right Cooley children!

William Krause

William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 29 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 was a Board Member and Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and am a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 37 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 24, Posted 10:03 AM, 12.18.2018