Digging Dover

From brothel to orphanage: The history of 384 Fordham Parkway, Part 3

The former “house of ill fame” which had the address of 23930 Lake Road at the time, was occupied by John and Cora Humphrey in 1939 according to the first Bay Directory which came out that year. They continue at that address in subsequent Bay Directories until 1944 or 1945. Samuel Goldberg’s Home Centers Incorporated sold the subject home to the Humphreys in 1943. It was in 1945 when the address was changed from 23930 West Lake Road to 394 Fordham Parkway. The Humphreys are not listed in the Bay Directory for 1946.

The 1940 U.S. Census has husband and wife 55-year-old John G. Humphrey and 48-year-old Cora M. Humphrey occupying the subject house. He is listed as a chemical salesman and she the proprietor of a children’s boarding home. They both worked 52 weeks in 1939. He earned $1,500 in wages and she earned nothing in wages. They both stated that they earned other compensation exceeding $50 in value. Perhaps whoever organized the orphanage compensated the Humphrey’s with a housing stipend?

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Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:56 AM, 10.05.2021

Home to Jewish gangsters? The history of 384 Fordham Parkway, Part 2

As outlined in Part 1 about this house, Dr. David Francati of Bay Dental, the current owner of 384 Fordham Parkway, told me a number of stories about his home. He said that it was built by one of the owners of a brewery which bottled Gold Bond beer. That it was once known as a “love nest” run by “Madam” Christine Ritchie, the “gray-haired widow of a former lake captain” in the 1930s. That it was then an orphanage where some of the kids crossed an open porch to sleep in the attic. That it had a fire and then was repaired and turned back into a single-family home.

Could all of this be true? Beyond the incredible stories, the research had many unexpected twists and turns, partly due to Bay’s habit of changing addresses in that part of the city over the years! We covered the “love nest” part of the story in Part 1. Let’s go back to the beginnings of the house.

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Volume 13, Issue 18, Posted 10:11 AM, 09.21.2021

Strange history: 384 Fordham Parkway, Part 1

Long before the sensational Sheppard murder case there was another infamous criminal case in Bay Village. In 1938, Mrs. Christine Ritchie was arrested for operating a “house of ill fame” in what was labeled the “Love Nest Case” by the Cleveland News newspaper.

Dr. David Francati, of Bay Dental, the current owner of 384 Fordham Parkway, told me a number of stories about the home he has shared with his wife, Sheila, since 1993. He said that it was supposedly built by the owners of a brewery. That it was once known as a “love nest” in the 1930s. That it was then an orphanage where some of the kids crossed an open porch to sleep in the attic. That it then had a fire and was repaired and turned back into a single-family home. Could all of this be true of one 3,600-square-foot home tucked away along Lake Erie next to Cliff Drive in Bay Village, Ohio?

Dr. Francati shared with me a newspaper article from 1938 which corroborated the “love nest” part of the story. The article involved the case of an Elyria policeman who was arrested Jan. 18, 1938, leaving the property with a woman who was not his wife. He was charged with “entering a house for immoral purposes.” Anywhere from 20 to 50 cars were stopped leaving the premises that one day.

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Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 10:41 AM, 09.08.2021

Robishaw book update: Part 1, The 1980s

This is the first in a series of articles focusing on Westlake's growth from the 1980s to today.

William Robishaw completed the book “You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake … (And You’ve Got a Long Way to Go)” in 1993. This is much of what he wrote about the 1980s:

"The 1980 census figures indicat[e] a population of 19,483. Although the population was greater than ever, much of the western part of town consisted of vacant fields, and some empty woodlots.” Robishaw quotes a 1980 Cleveland Press article which emphasized that while new houses nationwide were getting smaller, the new houses in Westlake were getting larger.

"The city adopted a new Guide Plan in July of 1980, to direct future development of the use of the over ten-thousand acres within the city. This Guide Plan had been developed and recommended by the staff of the Cuyahoga County Regional Planning Commission … [a] revised version [was] adopted by Council in December of 1984.

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Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 10:13 AM, 08.17.2021

Charles Hublitz house, 24756 Detroit Road, circa 1924

Note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Reuben Osborn Learning Center re-opens July 11. The Center re-opens July 25.

It all started with a piece of wood with a shipping label on it. Daniel White said he has been finding labels on the back of woodwork as he remodels his Craftsman bungalow at 24756 Detroit Road. The return address on the label of 925 Homan Avenue, Chicago, confirmed that this woodwork was milled for Sears at one of their Ohio lumberyards in Norwood.  

He purchased the home from the estate of Charles W. Hublitz in 1980, who Daniel said was like a grandfather to him back in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, where Mr. Hublitz owned a farm.

The label on the wood was addressed to Charles W. Hublitz of North Dover, Ohio, by way of the B & O and Nickel Plate Railroads and delivered to the Bay Village Railroad Station. Sears had been selling building materials through their catalog starting in 1895, and whole house kits starting in 1908. The county estimated that the house was built in 1908. However, the house doesn’t look like any of the models offered in the early years.

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Volume 13, Issue 13, Posted 10:27 AM, 07.06.2021

The 1914 Clifton and Adeline Aldrich House, 28905 Osborn Road

Clifton Aldrich is the great-grandson of Aaron Aldrich III who constructed the beautifully preserved, circa 1829, home which still stands at 30663 Lake Road (on the south side of Lake Road just east of Bradley).

According to “Bay Village: A Way of Life” the Bay Village Aldrich family are descendants of George Aldrich who immigrated to America from England in 1634. Aaron Aldrich II was born in 1740 and served in the American Revolution. Aaron III and his wife Elizabeth Winsor Aldrich immigrated to Dover in 1816. Clifton’s grandfather William was their second child, born in 1817, he married Martha Bassett in 1840.

Clifton’s father William II was born in the Nathan Bassett homestead on Bassett Road (the barn still stands at 484 Bassett Road). William II married Jeanette Bates in 1862, and served in the Civil War. Clifton was their fifth child, born in 1878 in another now well preserved, circa 1862 historic home, which still stands at 366 Bassett Road.

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Volume 13, Issue 12, Posted 10:01 AM, 06.15.2021

You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake

In 1993 the Westlake Historical Society published a book titled “You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake … and You’ve Got a Long Way To Go” by William M. Robishaw. Mr. Robishaw, known as “Bill,” served as the president of the Westlake Historical Society for 14 years, in 1981 editing and overseeing the publishing of “A History and Civics of Dover Village,” from a manuscript written in 1930 by a Dover High School social studies teacher and one of his students.

The teacher, Reign S. Hadsell, taught civics in Dover from 1926 until 1930. Hazel Rutherford was one of his students who graduated from Dover High School in 1931. While Hadsell was the primary author of the manuscript, he credits Rutherford in the foreword with writing a number of the chapters. Mr. Robishaw, Dover High School class of 1939, took the rough manuscript and turned it into a book which was published with financial help of the Friends of Porter Library and the Westlake Historical Society.

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Volume 13, Issue 10, Posted 10:12 AM, 05.18.2021

Digging Dover - Bay Village: Century Home Plaques

Once again, the Bay Village Historical Society is offering plaques to the owners of homes in the city that are more than 100 years old. The plaquing program was temporarily suspended because the Cuyahoga County Archives were closed due to Covid-19. Therefore, the tax records that verify the date of construction were not available.

The County Fiscal Office lists a year built on the online property records. But these dates are only estimated and are notoriously inaccurate. We are currently working diligently to verify the age of homes for which plaques were requested shortly before or during the pandemic.

The plaques, made of cast aluminum and colored black and gold, are 10 inches by 14 inches oval, and include the words “Bay Village,” “Century Home” and the year of construction.

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Volume 13, Issue 8, Posted 10:39 AM, 04.20.2021

Digging Dover Westlake: Westlake Moses Cleaveland Trees, Revisited: Part 2

A second part to this series was needed to research one final previously designated Moses Cleaveland tree (MCT) on Cahoon Road. The records state that this tree, a pin oak, was somehow associated with a Mrs. Edward Jones.

We could not locate the original MCT card. Later, the tree was described as being at the rear of 1966 Cahoon Road in Westlake. Since, there is no 1966 Cahoon it seemed logical to investigate 966 Cahoon. The address was mentioned in a previous MCT article last summer and the current owners contacted the previous owners to see if a big tree had been cut down in the back of 966 Cahoon during their ownership which spanned from 1975 to 2002. Their answer was “no” but they said a big tree was cut down from the front yard by the city years ago. Legend was that the bend in the road at 966 Cahoon was originally created to go around this huge tree.

The 1940 U.S. Census records for Westlake Village were searched for both a Mrs. Edward Jones and information about 966 Cahoon Road. We found that 966 Cahoon was a rental property in 1939. The front part of the dwelling was rented to a Mr. and Mrs. Wealthy and their family. The rear was rented to a man named Valentine Beeman.

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:26 AM, 03.16.2021

Westlake's Moses Cleaveland Trees, Revisited: Part 1

The Moses Cleaveland Tree plaquing project was started in 1946 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Moses Cleaveland landing here in 1796. Its goal was to designate 150 trees that were growing in the Cleveland area when Moses Cleaveland arrived. Subsequent surveys were done in 1971, 1976 and later to check on the status and size of the originally designated trees and add new trees to the list.

What we learned is that the records for the 1946 designated trees were pretty solid but then the whereabouts of the list of subsequently designated trees, if there ever was one, is unknown. Also, the exact location of some of the trees was not clear.

Roy Larick, retired archaeologist and newly designated member of the Euclid Tree Commission contacted me disclosing his plan to create a master list of all of the known Moses Cleaveland trees, including precise locations and current status and size of the trees. He provided me with a list of trees in Westlake he compiled from my articles and other sources. It showed that nine trees had been designated in 1946, and one additional tree in each of the years 1971, 1976 and 1986 (12 trees total). His project eventually got folded into the goals of the Forest City Working Group under the City of Cleveland’s Office of Sustainability. They asked me to go into the field to gather as much information as I could about the trees.

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Volume 13, Issue 3, Posted 10:08 AM, 02.02.2021

A gift for all seasons

Benjamin Franklin said “Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have.” Thanks to Mr. Charles (“Tallie”) and Mrs. Carolyn Young, Bay Village Lakeside Cemetery is saved! They epitomize the kind of people that make Bay Village the fine community that it is.

“Retracing Footsteps” by Catherine Burke Flament is an excellent source for all things Lakeside Cemetery. Here are some of the facts gleaned from that book: The cemetery was founded in 1814 when Reuben Osborn’s sister-in-law and infant nephew were accidentally drowned in the Rocky River. Reuben donated some property on the north side of Lake Road for the first public burying ground in Dover Township. Eventually Reuben Osborn’s land was divided between his descendants and through the years the cemetery has been expanded to the approximately half-acre that it is today.

It was in 1877 that Reuben’s grandson David Deforest Osborn sold land to the trustees of Dover to expand the cemetery to the north, east and west of the original. At that time an additional 28-foot-wide piece of land to the east was purchased from others as well. David Osborn had grown up in his father Selden’s house which still stands at 29059 Lake Road, located diagonally southwest of the cemetery.

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Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 9:52 AM, 12.15.2020

A Westlake buried treasure map

In 2015, Case Western Reserve University professor Gary Previts emailed the mayor of Rocky River with a fascinating story. He explained that in the 1920s, boy relatives of his were out playing and discovered some muskets and scabbards/swords and brought them home. The mother of the house immediately threw their finds down the water well.

Attached to the professor's email was a hand-drawn map with the location of the well, marked with an “X”. The professor wondered if there could be any connection between what they found and Bradstreet’s Disaster which occurred in 1764 in what is now Rocky River?

Because the well was located on a farm on Center Ridge in Dover (now Westlake), just over the city line from Rocky River (east of today’s Berry-McGreevey Funeral Home in Westlake), the mayor of Rocky River, Pam Bobst, contacted the mayor of Westlake, Dennis Clough. Mayor Clough, knowing about my interest in history, forwarded the email to me and asked me to investigate.

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Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 9:59 AM, 12.01.2020

Bay Village: History of Dover Bay Colony’s Dodge Cottage

One would never suspect that the attractive French style home at 24715 Wolf Road (just east of Forestview) was once a Shingle-style summer cottage on Lake Erie for the prominent Dodge family of Cleveland.

Douglas Dodge’s ancestor Samuel was a carpenter who built a barn for an early settler in Cleveland. The settler paid for the barn with land instead of cash. Land on what would later become Playhouse Square. This helped make Samuel Dodge’s descendants wealthy. East 17th Street was once known as Dodge Street and there is still an alley named Dodge Court behind the theatres.

Douglas Dodge’s name does not appear on any recorded land deeds in Cuyahoga County, though his name does appear on a lawsuit his family filed against the City of Cleveland regarding their downtown land. It appears that he may have preferred golf to land ownership. Douglas' ownership of the cottage is based on information in the Bay Village Historical Society archives and their book “Bay Village: A Way of Life.” He is listed as one of the organizers of the Colony and a golfer. The names that do appear on the Dover Bay Park Association land records include Washington H. Lawrence, Myron T. Herrick and James Parmalee, other important Clevelanders of the Gilded Age.

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 9:27 AM, 11.03.2020

Westlake: New homes to be built in antiquated subdivision

One definition of an antiquated subdivision is a subdivision that consists of building lots which do not meet current development standards. In 2017 it was estimated that Florida has 2.1 million vacant lots in antiquated subdivisions. Westlake had at least 49 such vacant lots in one subdivision named Lagrange, southwest of Meadowood Golf Course, until the city's Planning Commission recently voted affirmatively to assemble four of the narrow 40-foot-wide sublots into one nearly acre-sized lot, and five other 40-foot-wide lots into two nearly half-acre lots.

The developer is a master at finding bits and pieces of undeveloped, sometimes unusable land, and entering into purchase agreements with the current owners to make something useful out of them. One of the problems with antiquated subdivisions is that often the individual sublots are owned by many different individuals who are not interested in working together. This is what has stymied previous developers over the years who have tried to build out Lagrange Subdivision.

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Volume 12, Issue 20, Posted 10:14 AM, 10.20.2020

Tracing the history of 2404 Dover Center Road

Most of the century homes in Westlake are vernacular farmhouses – meaning they were built with no architectural style or pretensions. The house at 2404 Dover Center Road is different. It has elements of both the Queen Anne and Shingle styles. Queen Anne because of its turret and asymmetry and Shingle style because it is covered in shingles and the rest of its massing is simpler and more modern then a fussy Victorian home.

Its rusticated sandstone steps and foundation and thick Doric porch columns also have an element of the Romanesque. It is one of the most handsome and well-preserved homes in Westlake.

The Cuyahoga County Archives remain closed so the exact date of construction cannot be determined from the tax records at the archives. The County Auditor lists the date of construction as 1913 which is plausible but seems late for this style of home.

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Volume 12, Issue 16, Posted 9:18 AM, 08.18.2020

Researching the history of Native Americans in Dover

Ken Keeler was born in Westlake around the city’s Sesquicentennial – 1961. He and his family have been longtime members of the Westlake Sportsman’s Association which at one time owned large tracts of land in Westlake. He continues to live in Westlake and has always loved hiking the fields and woodlots in the city.

In the 1980s he explored the former Jurgemeier farm, near the southwest corner of Crocker and Detroit roads, when the soil was scraped into huge dirt piles to flatten the ridge where the Promenade Shopping Center was being constructed. He told me about how in a matter of minutes he unearthed a Native American knife made of red flint, a sizable chunk of unworked flint and other tools made of a stone that is not indigenous to this area. This leads him to believe that it was the site of a long-ago Native American camp or village.

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Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 10:06 AM, 07.07.2020

Locating ancient Native American earthworks in Dover Township

Today, the nearest existing Native American earthworks to Dover are the Fort Hill Earthworks in the Rocky River Reservation. They are believed to have been constructed by what is known as the Early Woodland Indians over 2,000 years ago. They are a set of three long earthen walls and ditches built on a shale cliff 90 feet above the Rocky River. Before part of Dover Township split off to become North Olmsted, the southern boundary of Dover was the current location of Brookpark Road. This places Fort Hill less than a mile south of the old Dover Township line.

The “Archaeological Atlas of Ohio” compiled by William C. Mills and published in 1914 by the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society (precursor to today’s Ohio History Connection), shows that there were five known Native American burial mounds identified within Dover Township. This is more identified burial mounds than any other township within Cuyahoga County except for Newburgh Township (which had nine).

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Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 9:53 AM, 06.16.2020

More early artifacts found in Dover

Jack Dianiska has lived in his Henry Road home behind St. Raphael’s for 60 years. He contacted the Observer after the first Digging Dover column about Native American relics found in Dover. He had several incredible stories to tell.

He was excited to read about the stone mortar that was found along Cahoon Creek, uncovered when the former Zipp’s manufacturing site was being cleared for the Cahoon Ledges cluster development. What he was excited about was that he found a stone pestle in the same location at the same time! The pestle and mortar would have been used to grind nuts.

Mr. Dianiska wondered if the man who found the mortar – which I've only heard about but haven't seen – had ever contacted me. He hasn’t. Later, when Mr. Dianiska and I met (with masks of course), I was able to hold the pestle and it had the same finely crafted balanced feel in my hand as the stone celt mentioned in the first article. He also found a grooved stone ax in the dirt pile. Both the pestle and the ax were dated by an expert in stone tools as from the Early Archaic period.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:10 AM, 06.02.2020

More Native American artifacts found in Dover

According to archaeologists it was during the Late Archaic period, about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago (1,000 to 3,000 BC) that the native inhabitant population increased greatly in northeast Ohio. This is based on the sheer number of archaeological sites and dramatic increase in the number of stone grinding implements and “hardware” found in northeast Ohio. This stone “hardware” includes hooks and net sinkers used for fishing.

About 20 years ago, Denise Rosenbaum, clerk of Westlake City Council, found what her brother-in-law called “Indian sinkers” at Huntington Beach. A quick perusal of the internet shows that the most common form of net sinker, found worldwide, is a flat stone, notched on two sides, used to hold a net on the bottom of a body of water. Not much effort is put forth to make these net sinkers because they are easily lost. The ones that Denise found have holes drilled in them.

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Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:42 AM, 05.05.2020

Archaic relics found in or near Dover

The glaciation 25,000 to 50,000 years ago brought granite boulders from Northern Canada to Dover. It is the same glaciation that many scientists believe eventually brought the first humans to the Americas over a land bridge from Siberia.

It is between 16,000 and 13,000 years ago that archaeologists agree there was widespread habitation of the Americas by humans. Dr. Brian G. Redmond, Curator of Archaeology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH) states that the first human inhabitants who stepped into the ecological mosaic of northern Ohio were here more than 10,000 years before French Europeans first ventured into the area in the 1600s.

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Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 8:59 AM, 04.21.2020

Then and Now in Dover, Part 5

Part five in a series on the "real photo postcards" (RPPCs) of early 20th century Dover, now Westlake and Bay Village.

1890 Residence of George M. and Cerisa M. Winslow at 2840 Dover Center Road

In 1850, 34-year-old John A. Winslow and his 40-year-old wife, Ann Winslow (nee Silverthorn), and their sons David and Edward, all born in England, first show up on the U.S. Census for Dover Township, Ohio. He is a laborer and owns no real estate in 1850. In 1856, for $100, he purchases a quarter-acre parcel near the southeast corner of Dover Center and Center Ridge on what today is a portion of the Rite Aid drugstore parking lot and builds a home. By the 1860 Census, George and Ann have added 8-year-old Maria and 5-year-old George M. Winslow to the family, and John is listed as a farm laborer.

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Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 10:05 AM, 03.03.2020

Then and Now in Dover, Part 4

Part four in a series on the "real photo postcards" (RPPCs) of early 20th century Dover, now Westlake and Bay Village.

Residence of Dr. and Mrs. Christopher W. Stoll of Dover

This Leiter RPPC postcard shows the residence of Dr. and Mrs. Stoll. This home was most likely located at 2543 Dover Center Road. Christopher W. and his wife, Eva S., Stoll owned property at this address in the early 1900s. They most likely occupied the house pictured on the postcard during the time that their new house, circa 1912, was being constructed behind it.

The postcard shows an older home with a sidewalk in front of it which most likely would have occurred only near the center of Dover at “Dover Centre” – the intersection of Center Ridge and Dover Center roads. A Hopkins map of 1858 shows five buildings constructed in a row beginning at the northeast corner of Center Ridge and Dover Center roads. We think the home pictured on the postcard is the northernmost building depicted on the 1858 map. A 1914 Hopkins plat book shows the new masonry house which is currently located there with no other structure in front of it.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:06 AM, 02.18.2020

Then and Now in Dover, Part 3

In the Volume 11, Issue 2 edition of the Observer, published Jan. 22, 2019, can be found the first Digging Dover “Then and Now” article based on postcards shared by Westlake resident Bob Collins. The printed version of the article included photographs of three postcards with typewritten captions, and a current picture of the same three views, now. The online version, which can still be accessed, includes five “then” and five “now” pictures.

In the last edition of the Observer, Volume 12, Issue 2, published Jan. 21, 2020, was the first “Now and Then” article. It includes the circa 1910 postcard photograph of either the Oviatt or Cahoon sawmills and a current photograph of what was possibly the Oviatt sawmill site as well as another photograph showing a bridge in Rocky River with a Lake Shore Electric trolley car dangling over the edge.

In an effort to confound future researchers, this article will be called “Then and Now in Dover, Part 3.” Because after all, the “Then and Now” articles have only been published “now and then” (with nearly a year’s separation between the first two articles). So, let’s get back on track (pun intended).

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:44 AM, 02.04.2020

Now and then in Dover

Many collectibles cherished by previous generations have little market value today. One exception are postcards, especially Real Picture Post Cards (RPPCs) which command high prices. One reason for their popularity is that they provide a glimpse into daily life during a time when few people owned their own cameras.

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Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:55 AM, 01.21.2020

History of street names in Westlake, Part 2

Part two of a two-part series.

One of the more interesting streets in Westlake is Horseshoe Boulevard. As originally platted, Horseshoe Boulevard continued along Sperry Creek south of Center Ridge, touched Clague Road between Hedgewood and Smith roads, continued south along the creek, intersected Westwood then extended west toward Hawkins, south toward Walter, then west toward Columbia parallel with Maple Ridge Road.

We are not sure if the name Horseshoe came from the fact that the street as originally conceived had a horseshoe shaped route through Dover Village, because it originally was a horse trail along the creek or because the circa 1900 Horseshoe Inn at 23123 Center Ridge Road was located approximately 700 feet east of where the street intersected Center Ridge.

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Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:21 AM, 12.17.2019

History of street names in Westlake, Part 1

Part one of a two-part series.

Margaret Manor Butler wrote “Romance in Lakewood Streets,” published by the Lakewood Historical Society in 1962. In the book she states that Detroit (Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, Detroit Road in Westlake) “was the original Indian path heading to the city of Detroit, an important settlement of the French during the French and Indian War.”

As for Hilliard (Hilliard Road in Lakewood, Hilliard Boulevard in Westlake) she states: “New York lost a keen teacher but Cleveland gained an enterprising business executive when Richard Hilliard came to the Western Reserve in 1820. Starting in the wholesale dry goods and grocery business, he expanded his interests to land speculation. Among his purchases was one hundred acres in the vicinity of Hilliard Road at Madison [Road]. Although we have no record of his having lived in Lakewood, the street was named in his honor. He became one of Cleveland’s most outstanding citizens, serving as Mayor of the Village in 1830, and as an organizer or trustee in many civic ventures. He built a mansion on the present site of Cleveland Public Auditorium, where he resided until his death in 1856.”

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Volume 11, Issue 23, Posted 10:09 AM, 12.03.2019

How glaciers shaped Dover

"A History and Civics of Dover Village" by Hadsell and Rutherford states that the rounded granite boulders (called glacial erratics) found dotting gardens and woods in the area were first brought to Dover between 25,000 and 50,000 years ago from northern Canada by glaciers two to three miles thick.

Dr. Brian G. Redmond, curator of archaeology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, wrote an article available online titled “Before the Western Reserve: An Archaeological History of Northeast Ohio.” In it he states: “The landscape of northeast Ohio is a relic of the great Late Pleistocene Ice Age. The rugged terrain, which begins just south and east of Cleveland, is known as the Glaciated Allegheny Plateau, an ice-scoured portion of the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

"This land was once covered in thick Beech-Maple forest and small lakes and bogs left behind by the glaciers. The steepness of these ‘heights’ is set off by the nearly flat Lake Erie Plain that hugs the south shore of Lake Erie from Buffalo to beyond Toledo.

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Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 9:33 AM, 11.19.2019

The Lora A. and Russell A. Pease Home, Part 2

The book “You’ve Come a Long Way Westlake” by William Robishaw, published by the Westlake Historical Society, has genealogical information about the Pease family in Dover. What becomes immediately apparent is that the Pease family were “movers and shakers” in the community at one time. During the years when most in the community made their living as farmers, they did not.

According to this book, Russell A. Pease was a doctor who practiced in Dover and the surrounding area. It also explains that Russell was the son of Herbert Pease and the grandson of James and Asenath Abel Pease. Asenath was a granddaughter of Lorenzo Carter, the first permanent settler of the city of Cleveland, who built a cabin on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River in 1797.

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Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:31 AM, 11.05.2019

Dover Gardens may be the area's oldest tavern

Dover Gardens Tavern has had many lives and now has a new face. The owners recently re-faced the exterior of the landmark at 27402 Detroit Road with new siding.

About five years ago it was questionable if the business and the building would survive after an out of control pick-up truck smashed into the building during a police chase, seriously injuring 13 people. The old timbers held and now the building looks refreshed and ready for many more years of good times for patrons.

The existing building dates to at least 1874 when a hotel and grocery building with a similar footprint is shown in the same location on 66 acres straddling Detroit Road, owned by C. Brenner. The same building is shown on a 1927 plat book with two outbuildings on an 8.78 acre parcel owned by Anton and J. Michelich. Tax records indicate jumps of value in both 1871 and 1881 though the county lists the year built as 1890.

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Volume 11, Issue 14, Posted 10:07 AM, 07.16.2019

Holy Moses! More Moses Cleaveland trees

One of the benefits of all the recent rain is that the trees in Westlake and Bay Village, both young and old, have never looked so lush.

After my article “Moses Cleaveland Trees in Westlake” appeared in the June 4 edition of this publication the editor was notified of another plaqued Moses Cleaveland tree still extant in Bay Village. It is located in a fenced yard at 24919 Sunset near the southeast corner of Sunset and Forestview roads.

The plaque identifies it as a black oak plaqued in 1971 during Cleveland’s Super Sesquicentennial Anniversary (175 years). As the photograph shows, it is displaying the dieback of some of its branches that naturally occurs in trees of great age.

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Volume 11, Issue 13, Posted 9:52 AM, 07.02.2019

Moses Cleaveland Trees in Westlake

A recent Observer article by Kay Laughlin about Moses Cleaveland trees in Bay Village stated that the last few original Moses Cleaveland trees were gone – that they had all succumbed to lightning strikes or Lake Erie. This led me to wonder how many were left in Westlake.

The designation of Moses Cleaveland trees began in 1946 as part of the celebration of the sesquicentennial of Cleveland’s founding in 1896, spearheaded by the Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve. The idea was to identify 150 trees that had been growing when Moses Cleaveland first arrived in northeast Ohio to survey the Connecticut Western Reserve.

The Committee on Moses Cleaveland Trees of the Sesquicentennial Commission was chaired by Arthur B. Williams, curator of education at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. It was estimated that there were thousands of such trees deep in the remote parts of the Cleveland Metroparks where they were still pretty much inaccessible to the public in 1946.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:25 AM, 06.04.2019

The Nickel Plate Railroad, Part IV

According to Taylor Hampton’s “The Nickel Plate Road,” the initial passenger cars for the Nickel Plate were constructed by the Pullman Palace Car Company in Chicago. They were painted a dull red or reddish-brown color with several gilt stripes around them.

The coaches were finished in cherry, the first-class ones having frescoed satinwood ceilings. The seats were upholstered in crimson plush and had backs six inches higher than ordinary ones. The coaches had toilet rooms and a ladies salon with marble washstand with comb, brush, mirror and towel.

The coaches were heated, lit by oil chandeliers, had large windows and provided with a bucket, an ax, and a saw for use in case of accident. The Cleveland Herald stated that: “In fact although not literally nickel-plated, everything was found to be thoroughly gilt-edged.”

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Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:11 PM, 05.06.2019

The Nickel Plate Railroad, Part III

The Rocky River “Dummy” Railroad provided a portion of the original route for the Nickel Plate. At least one source says that a “Dummy” Railroad was so called because the steam engine was concealed in a streetcar-type body so that the engine would induce less fear in horses. In these early years streetcars were still pulled by horses so horses were familiar with them.

Other sources say “Dummy” meant the engines were smaller, produced less steam and smoke, and were extremely quiet relative to other types of locomotives. The Rocky River railroad was a narrow-gauge line with a small engine, so this could be possible.  

A third theory is that “Dummy” referred to the fact that the engines were not smart enough to turn around (because they had no turn table) so they had to back up for a return trip. This last reason may be the most plausible for the Rocky River line because early maps do not show any way for the train to turn around at either end of the single-track route.

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Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 9:48 AM, 04.16.2019

The Nickel Plate Railroad, Part II

As stated in Part I of this series of articles about the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, it was the editor of the Norwalk Chronicle newspaper who is credited with christening the railroad the “Nickel Plate.” As early as March of 1881 he described it as the “nickel plated railroad.”

Commercial nickel plating had begun in 1870 and was beginning to attract attention by 1880. The editor said he came up with the name on the spur of the moment when printing some notices for a public meeting to be held in Norwalk to discuss what the townspeople were willing to offer to have the railroad come through their town. It was a common practice at that time to offer free right-of-way and cash incentives to lure a railroad to pass through your town, similar to the vying for Amazon facilities with tax incentives today.

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Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:43 AM, 04.02.2019

The Nickel Plate Railroad, Part 1

The first railroad in the United States was operating in 1828. By 1881 Ohio had 70 rail lines and 5,912 miles of track. It was in February of 1881 that a group of investors met in New York City determined to build a railroad connecting Buffalo with Chicago to compete with William H. Vanderbilt’s Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad. A survey of the route may have begun as early as 1879. The first board of directors included Daniel P. Eels of Cleveland’s famed Euclid Avenue Millionaires' Row.

The railroad was organized under the name New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad. It was unusual to build a 520-mile trunk line all at once but that is exactly what they planned to do. Many small towns between Cleveland and Fort Wayne, Indiana, fought for the privilege of having the new railroad go through their town. Norwalk and Bellevue, Ohio, competed intensely and it was the editor of the Norwalk newspaper who is credited for nicknaming this new railroad the “Nickel Plate.”

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Volume 11, Issue 6, Posted 10:13 AM, 03.19.2019

Tracing Milo Kutchin's travels through Wisconsin, Columbus and Dover, Ohio

When individuals have a question about a building in Westlake one place they look for answers is Westlake City Hall. If it is an older building they tend to get referred to the Westlake Planning Department, where I work as assistant planning director.

Descendants of Milo Kutchin showed up one day with a number of family pictures. I believe they knew that Milo had lived on First Street and that he had run a drug store on Dover Center Road near the railroad tracks in the early 20th century. Most tantalizing was a photograph of a trim brick building complete with a pharmacy trade sign consisting of an over-sized mortar and pestle mounted on a pole in the sidewalk. The question they posed: Could this building have been located in Dover?

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Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 AM, 02.19.2019

Dover/Westlake Then and Now

Eighty-three-year-old Bob Collins has resided in Westlake for close to 70 years. He says that it was his high school history teacher here that got him interested in history. One way this has manifested itself is his collection of postal cards.

Early postal cards could be printed with a photograph on one side in the same way that a Christmas card can be printed today with a family photograph at Costco. A number of the cards that Bob owns have been printed and re-printed in local history books but the level of detail that can be captured and printed digitally today was not possible even a few short years ago.

Bob shared the collection with me last summer and my plan is to share them with Observer readers along with a recent photograph of the same location. I have tried to duplicate the location and angle of the new photograph as closely as possible with the old photograph.

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Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 10:04 AM, 01.22.2019

With Landmark closing, Westlake loses another link to farming roots

With the recent closing of the Landmark Lawn & Garden Supply at 677 Dover Center Road, another link to Westlake’s agricultural past is gone. Landmark was a lawn, garden and pet supply business that had served the area for over 75 years. This family-owned operation also delivered bulk landscape supplies for do-it-yourself projects. Landmark Lawn & Garden Supply was located on Dover Center Road, right next to the railroad tracks.

Before it was known as Cuyahoga Landmark Inc., it was the Dover location of the Cuyahoga Farm Bureau Co-Op Association Inc. According to Case Western Reserve University’s Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, the Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau was organized in 1915 to provide farmers in the county with a vehicle for collective action in representing, promoting and protecting farm interests.

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Volume 10, Issue 21, Posted 9:54 AM, 11.06.2018

Wild Goose Jack, Part 2

Part two in a series on Westlake native Jack Miner.

Jack Miner was an eminent naturalist, conservationist and humanitarian who in 1904 established a bird sanctuary on the north shore of Lake Erie at Kingsville, Ontario, Canada. In his autobiography, “Wild Goose Jack,” Miner writes that it was Dover Ditch and Cahoon Creek which were where he played and began educating himself in the things that would later make him world famous. He loved Dover as his hometown until he died in 1944.

According to “You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake…” by William Robishaw, when Jack Miner died, he was the fifth-best known man on the North American continent, determined by a poll of United States newspapers. The poll ranked only Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh and Eddie Rickenbacker as more well known.

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Volume 10, Issue 19, Posted 9:50 AM, 10.02.2018

Wild Goose Jack, Part 1

Part one in a series on Westlake native Jack Miner.

One of the advantages of volunteering for the Westlake Historical Society is being able to see newly donated items. On a recent Sunday during my hosting the open house of the Clague Museum I was looking through a box of books donated by the family of dear Roger and Lollie Cooley, longtime Westlake Historical Society members who have both died recently.

A book that caught my eye was an autobiography of one of Westlake’s most famous native sons, Jack Miner. It was inscribed to Roger and Lollie by Jack’s descendant Kirk Miner. The Cooley and the Miner families have an association that goes back to around the time that Jack was born in Dover Township in 1865.

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Volume 10, Issue 15, Posted 9:43 AM, 08.07.2018