Remembering Dover Bay Country Club

Washington Lawrence's sons-in-law play golf at Dover Bay in 1895.

Another golfing season is coming to an end. In Bay Village back in the early 1950s, the once thriving nine-hole course at the corner of Clague and Lake roads would still be going in use on a beautiful, sunshiny fall day.

We can revisit the history of the club by enjoying a Plain Dealer article written by Cornelia Curtiss announcing the celebration of the club’s 50th birthday in 1945.

"Dover Bay Country Club, second oldest in the district, is about to celebrate its golden anniversary.

With the coming of the early spring, members of the club, which is on the lake shore west of town, are anticipating a long season of golf and other attractions which the club offers.

The Dover Bay Club has a long history which is interwoven with the development of Cleveland from a small city to a great metropolis. It was back in 1887 that W. H. Lawrence organized the Dover Bay Park Association, the roster of which included names of many of Cleveland’s old and substantial citizens such as the Herricks, the Hickox family, the Cobbs, the Roots, the Dodges, Zerbes and Ranneys.

At that time most of these families lived around Pearl Street (now W. 25th Street) and Franklin Ave and Franklin Circle was a beauty spot with its fine homes. Under leadership of Mr. Lawrence the present Dover Bay clubhouse was built in 1888. At the time it was expected the city of Cleveland would develop westward. Members and their families went to Dover Bay for the summers, driving in their carriages and over the bridle paths. Between 1891 and 1894 eight summer homes were built in a semi-circle near the clubhouse. These were generally without kitchens as the owners and their families had meals at the club. Six of the houses still stand, four being owned by the Fuller, Jaster, McDonough and Hughes families. [Today, there are two houses still standing.]

It was in 1893-94 that, after a fashion, golf was first played at Dover Bay. Three or four makeshift holes (they were called links in those days) were laid out in 1895, a year after the Cleveland Country Club nine-hole course in Bratenahl was built. Dover thus remains the second oldest club in the district.

As the years went by, changes and modern additions were made on the greens and the paving of Lake Road necessitated variations in the layout of the greens.

Came 1904, and the old Dover Bay Park Association reached its end. The Century Club of that day then tried out the experiment of using the property as the country part of a town and country club scheme. Town headquarters were in the present Guardian Building [in downtown Cleveland]. After the Century Club went of existence the grounds were taken over for the beginning of what grew into the Westwood Club, now located father west. Then in 1915 the Dover Bay Country Club as it exists today was organized and ever since has been a thriving institution. Clevelanders flocked to Dover Bay, to the cottages and to the clubhouse which took summer guests and it became a gay social center. A large dance pavilion on the bank of the lake was the central point around which club life revolved. It had a large fireplace and was entirely enclosed by windows. The masquerade parties held there were famous. A few years ago the pavilion was torn down because of erosion of the bank near which it stood. Some of the past presidents of Dover Bay have been William Webster, Willard Fuller, Al Hawley, Harry Dill, S. S. Hughes, and Ralph Stewart.

Present officers are: Henry S. Ibsen, Ralph Stewart, W. E. Jeuergen, C. L. Bethel, S. S. Hughes, A. L. Bailey, Jack Hodges, J. S. McKeighan, Ross Betts, Nick Sheehan and Kenneth Rossborough.

The club will be formally opened for the season in May and through the summer anniversary celebrations will be planned."

In the mid-1950s, the course was sold to a developer who developed ranch style houses called suburban contemporaries. The mid-century modern homes are still standing.

Read More on Snippets of Bay Village History
Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:08 AM, 09.17.2019