Westlake Bicentennial

Dover's fire department comes together

Frank Sauer, a mechanic who owned a garage and auto agency on Center Ridge Road, served as a volunteer fireman in the 1920s. Dover did not have a fire truck so Frank decided to build a pumper for the volunteers. He took the chassis from an old Cadillac, and converted it into the village's first fire engine in 1926. Prior to this, Dover had a hand pump brigade.

In 1937, Frank was hired as Dover's first fire chief. He retired in 1966 at the age of 83 and Edmund Geiger became the next fire chief.

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Volume 3, Issue 13, Posted 6:51 PM, 06.28.2011

Scouts continue to serve community

The Westlake Historical society is honored to have four young men working with us as they pursue the rank of Eagle Scout. Evan Keleman and Rick Kolar of Troop 208, Brian Amsted of Troop 77 and Jacob Ogonek of Troop 225 are working on various projects to fulfill the requirements for completion of the Eagle Scout. The twelve points of Scout law are "Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent."

We see examples of this from the young men as they work toward the goal of Eagle Scout.

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Volume 3, Issue 13, Posted 6:48 PM, 06.28.2011

New T-shirts help celebrate Westlake's Bicentennial

The city of Westlake and the Westlake Historical Society are offering a limited quantity of Bicentennial T-shirts. These stylish, high-quality shirts display our Bicentennial logo on the front – and they are only $12 each!  

Here is your opportunity to purchase the official Westlake Bicentennial T-shirt. The shirt is available in normal adult sizes, and can be purchased at Westlake City Hall, the Rec Center, the Westlake Community Center, and the Clague House Museum. For more information, please contact city hall at 440-871-3300, or the Westlake Historical Society at 440-721-1201.

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 2:22 PM, 06.14.2011

Where's Dover the Bicentennial Bear?

Hey kids (of all ages), "Dover" the wandering Bicentennial Bear from the Westlake Historical Society has found another interesting and historical place! Every month, Dover travels to a different location in Westlake and reports back to us on what he finds.

This month, Dover Bear left the Clague House Museum and traveled to Dover Center Road and also to Center Ridge Road. He wanted to learn more about barns and the significant role they played here in Westlake.

Dover Bear also learned a lot about the farming that took place here many many years ago. He learned that at one time Westlake was the second largest exporter of grapes in the United States.

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 2:23 PM, 06.14.2011

We want you!

Volunteerism can start at any age. I remember being about eight years old when my parents took my brothers and I to the boyhood home of Abe Lincoln in Hodgenville, Ky.  

There was a rain storm brewing and we arrived at the cabin just after the wind had blown through. My dad told us to look down and help pick up the various items that had been brought in by the storm. When we had finished, we were greeted by a very nice woman who gave my brothers and I a candy bar for helping out.

She thanked us for helping to take care of history. Obviously, this made a lasting impression on me. I felt very happy that I helped to take care of history. In fact, I had taken care of Abe Lincoln's boyhood home, if just for a brief few moments.

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 2:22 PM, 06.14.2011

The division of Dover

At the end of the 19th century, the city of Cleveland was growing at a healthy pace. Many who lived in Cleveland wanted a place where they could escape the city and summer homes became popular. Many preferred what the lakeside could give them – beaches, cool lake breezes and a vacation style of life.

A number of wealthy families began buying property along the lakeshore in North Dover. As tax rates climbed, those with expensive property closest to the lake did not feel they were equally represented. They petitioned to establish a separate village and on July 20, 1901, the Hamlet of Bay became independent of Dover Township.

From one large community of early Dover we now have two wonderfully unique and different cities.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:24 PM, 06.01.2011

Dover's first public high school is built

Until 1898, the highest level of public education offered in Dover was the eighth grade. Students wishing to continue their education enrolled in private, tuition-based academies. On May 10, 1898, the Dover Board of Education decided to establish a high school in Dover.

At a board meeting two months later, it was agreed that the high school would be located on the township property known as the fairgrounds at the center of town (now the site of Lee Burneson Middle School). The classes were to be held in the now-vacant Dover Academy building.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:23 PM, 06.01.2011

Bicentennial event at cemetery celebrates old and new

On May 21, the city of Westlake and the Westlake Historical Society, as part of the Bicentennial celebration, dedicated the new fence at Evergreen Cemetery and took guests on a historical tour of the cemetery.

The beautiful sunny day was perfect weather for our fence dedication and Living History Tour. Evergreen Cemetery dates back to the 1820s on land given by Westlake's first settler, Leverett Johnson. The cemetery sits on over 16 acres of land and has 3,000 headstones.

Councilmember Mark Getsay spoke at the dedication and Rev. Dan Anthony from Rock Pointe Church led the fence blessing. Evan Kelleman and members of Boy Scout Troop 208 led the flag raising ceremony and laying of the wreath at the cemetery entrance.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:23 PM, 06.01.2011

Dover women form helping societies

The women of Dover have a rich history of serving others. 1885 was the beginning of the North Ridge Thimble Society. They would sew, but they also held bazaars as fundraisers for the Lewis District School on Detroit Road.

In 1899, The Helping Society was formed. As the name implies, they were in the business of helping others in need. By 1905 they bought land and a building was erected on Center Ridge Road. This ladies' organization played an important role in the life of many.

They visited the homes of those who were ill and assisted the family with household chores, clothing and food. Fundraising during this time was mainly done by putting on plays and later card parties, style shows and bazaars.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:23 PM, 06.01.2011

Early 'bucket brigades' overmatched by raging fires

The first decade of the 1900s saw two major fires in Dover, both resulting in near-total destruction to the buildings. Prior to hand-pumped fire engines, locals would fight fires by passing buckets of water man to man along a human chain in what is known as a "bucket brigade." This method was slow and often ineffective against larger blazes.

In 1906, the Phillips Hotel caught fire. The bell at the Methodist church rang out and the people of Dover ran to assist. The residents formed a bucket brigade and did what they could to save the hotel and the spirits housed in the basement. The liquor fumes fueled the flames and the building could not be saved.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:22 PM, 06.01.2011

Kid Wagons

The centralizing of the schools in Dover during this time period created a need to transport students from their homes to the central school. The "kid wagon," pulled by two horses, was born. The wagon would travel the streets of Dover, and children would run alongside the moving wagon and jump in through the open back door. One could call the "kid wagon" the forerunner of the modern-day yellow school bus.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:22 PM, 06.01.2011

History comes alive at Evergreen Cemetery walk

Did you know that over 30 of the early pioneers who came to Dover Township (Westlake) before 1820 are buried in historic Evergreen Cemetery? On Saturday, May 21, at noon, you are invited to tour this historic cemetery at 29535 Center Ridge Rd. and meet many of those pioneers and hear their story.

After a blessing of the new cemetery fence, guests will be led on a guided tour of the cemetery, with stops at the grave sites of some of our most prominent ancestors – portrayed by knowledgeable, costumed volunteers – including: Leverett Johnson, Walter Clague, Noah Crocker, Asher Cooley and Abigail (Cahoon) Johnson.

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 9:23 PM, 05.17.2011

Where's Dover the Bicentennial Bear?

This month, Dover Bear wanted to get more information about the plans being made to construct a Bicentennial Founders Walk. This special pathway made up of engraved bricks is to commemorate the community’s Bicentennial anniversary.

Dover headed directly across the street from the Clague House Museum to Clague Park. Dover wanted to see the Clague Memorial Monument, as well as where the Founders Walk will be located in the park.

Two of the Clague children, Walter and Sophronia, donated their former farm to the village of Dover in 1926. Three years later a monument was dedicated across from the Clague House. Dover was very interested in what was inscribed on the memorial monument. It read: "Forty years ago Walter Clague desired to donate his property for a park when the opportune time came. This desire was realized on Sat., Oct. 9, 1926, when Dover Village accepted the 78 acres on Clague Rd. for park purposes, which park to be called Clague Memorial Park, both name and park for all time."

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 9:16 PM, 05.17.2011

Learn about Westlake's past and the events to celebrate 200 years

Will Krause, Assistant Director of Westlake's Planning and Economic Development Department, will be the featured guest speaker at the Wednesday, May 18, meeting of the Cuyahoga West Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society, at Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Rd.  

Mr. Krause will present “The History of Westlake and Its Bicentennial Celebration.” Come and learn about Westlake’s past and how the city and local organizations are commemorating 200 years of history. Also, Jeanne B. Workman, genealogist and author of the award-winning bicentennial book "Pioneers of Westlake, Ohio: Settlers in 1820 and Their Families," will be signing books which will be available for purchase at this meeting.

Program begins at 7:00 p.m. Refreshments and social time is from 6:30-7:00 p.m.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 4:45 PM, 05.03.2011

Westlake students invited to share in Bicentennial spirit

The Westlake Bicentennial Poetry Contest is off and running! Contest entry forms are now available at every Westlake school and at Porter Library.

This contest is designed to celebrate the 200th birthday of Westlake with poems commemorating any aspect of the city the writer chooses to feature. It’s open to all Westlake students 18 and under. Prizes will be awarded in three age groupings.

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 6:31 PM, 04.19.2011

Where's Dover the Bicentennial Bear?

Hey kids (of all ages), "Dover" the wandering Bicentennial Bear from the Westlake Historical Society has found another interesting and historical place! Every month, Dover travels to a different location in Westlake and reports back to us on what he finds.

This month, Dover Bear left the Clague House Museum to see if spring had finally arrived in Westlake. He was happy to see the daffodils and trees blooming on the grounds of the museum. This month, Dover Bear did not have very far to travel. In fact, just across the drive to the Clague Playhouse he went.

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 6:13 PM, 04.19.2011

Dover Township and the Civil War

April 12 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of America’s Civil War. It was on that day in 1861 that South Carolina, having previously declared itself seceded from the United States, fired its cannons on Fort Sumter, a U.S. fort in the middle of Charleston Harbor.

Those shots reverberated across our country into every community – North and South – including Dover Township. Its people knew that the long-simmering differences between states over “states rights,” principally the right to own slaves, would be settled in battles. These would pitch Americans against Americans and brothers against brothers – every loss, a loss for our country.

Each side called for volunteers to fight its battles. Many were needed as there were only 15,000 men in the U.S. Army as the war began and these would be divided by loyalties. Thousands of young men answered President Lincoln’s call to service, including at least 120 men from Dover Township.

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 7:53 PM, 04.05.2011

Jack Miner: Westlake's world-famous conservationist

Jack Miner was born April 7, 1865, in the section of Dover Township that was known as Dover Center. He lived in a small weather-beaten home with a leaky roof, just south of where Jenkins Funeral Chapel now stands, on Dover Center Road near Westown Blvd. Young Jack was one of 11 children, born of English parents who made a meager living in the brickyard across the street from their home. Jack’s father worked long hours to form the bricks that were sold for $3.50 per 1,000.

As a young boy, Jack liked to work in the brickyard instead of attending school. He was not fond of school because he was teased for his English ancestry, fiery red hair and freckles. At age 12, Jack returned to school at the urging of his friends, and felt a sense of belonging when his teacher, Miss Minnie Chubb, gave him the job of starting and tending the fire in the schoolroom stove. He learned a few basic reading skills in school, but did not truly learn to read until he was around 35 years old.

Jack spent hours at Cahoon Creek near his home studying the lessons of nature. The creek was both a laboratory and play-yard. With great enthusiasm, he studied the habits of all that crept and swam. In addition, he learned lessons on birdlife that formed a foundation for his life’s work.

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 7:53 PM, 04.05.2011

Dover Fair, 1857-1897

The Dover Agricultural and Mechanical Fair was held each year from 1857-1897 on grounds located behind the current Lee Burneson Middle School on Dover Center Road.

The fair was put on by the Dover Agricultural and Mechanical Society, an organization formed to promote improvements in those two fields. The festival normally lasted two days and was usually held each September.

The Society itself was purely a Dover Township affair, but the fair attracted visitors in large numbers from surrounding towns.

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 7:52 PM, 04.05.2011

Purchase your engraved century-old bricks for bicentennial project

The Westlake Historical Society is pleased to be a part of the effort to honor our city's founders and significant people through the use of commemorative bricks from the old Red Brick School to install a Bicentennial Founders' Walk. Both the Westlake Historical Society and Westlake Kiwanis are helping to sell the engraved bricks. 

You can leave your mark on our community by purchasing an engraved century-old brick personalized with your individual message. All individuals, groups and businesses are encouraged to be a part of our history by purchasing a bicentennial engraved brick.   

The cost of each brick paver is only $60.00.  

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 10:03 AM, 03.22.2011

Where's Dover the Bicentennial Bear?

Hey kids (of all ages), "Dover" the wandering Bicentennial Bear from the Westlake Historical Society is out visiting more interesting and historical places this month.

This month, Dover decided to visit the Westlake Porter Public Library, located at 27333 Center Ridge Road.

Dover loves to visit the Westlake Porter Public Library because everyone is friendly and willing to help him. He especially likes the children's area where they have chairs that are just his size.

Dover asked the friendly Librarian why it is called Porter Library. He was told that one of the early settlers in Dover Township (now known as Westlake) was a man named Leonard G. Porter. Mr. Porter, who was born in 1806, liked to read and so he donated $1,000 and all of his personal books to begin a library in Dover when he died in 1884.

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 10:02 AM, 03.22.2011

Where's Dover the Bicentennial Bear?

Hey kids (of all ages), meet "Dover," the Westlake Historical Society's wandering Bicentennial Bear. He's been known to leave his Clague House Museum home and visit all sorts of fun and historical places throughout the city. Every month, Dover will visit a different location in Westlake and report back to us on what he finds!

This month, Dover visited the City Hall of Westlake. Dover learned that Westlake actually began on November 14, 1811, and was called Dover Township at that time. On March 15, 1911, we became incorporated as Dover Village. The name changed to Westlake Village on August 21, 1940, and was later incorporated as the City of Westlake on December 18, 1957. The name change came about as a result of all the confusion with the other Dover, Ohio, located further south.  

Dover the Bicentennial Bear figured out that on November 14, 2011, Westlake will celebrate its Bicentennial, or 200th birthday. Check next month in the Observer to see where Dover visits next!

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Volume 3, Issue 4, Posted 9:46 AM, 02.24.2011

Society launches centennial barn project

"See Rock City" and "Mail Pouch" are just a few of the signs that come to my mind when I remember seeing barns as a child. Barns conjure up strong images for people – hard work, pride, a sense of home.

But the big barns that identify small farms in the United States are quickly diminishing. Those barns that represent a part of our past and our heritage are also disappearing. The Westlake Historical Society would like your help in locating the remaining 100-year-old or Centennial barns located in Westlake.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 11:52 AM, 01.07.2011

Westlake kicks off Bicentennial year

The city of Westlake held a New Year’s celebration at Crocker Park on Dec. 31 to officially start its Bicentennial year. The family-friendly event included a juggler, musicians, games and a live simulcast with sister city Tralee, Ireland.

The festivities were aided by unseasonably warm weather and concluded with a ball drop and fireworks display.

Click here to view a photo gallery of the evening.

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Volume 2, Issue 25, Posted 4:37 PM, 01.01.2011

City workers test lighted ball for Bicentennial Ball Drop

In preparation for the Dec. 31 kickoff of Westlake's Bicenntennial year, workers at the city's service garage constructed a lighted ball to be used at the Crocker Park event. Over a two-week period, workers built the ball, comprised of over 1200 incandescent and LED lights, that will be the highlight of the Family Fun Evening.

On Dec. 22, a dry-run of the ball drop was conducted at the service garage to fine-tune the lighting sequence and time the rate of the drop.

The festivities, including face painting, noisemakers live music and entertainment, will start at 6:15 p.m., with the ball drop at 7:00 p.m., followed by a fireworks display. The event will be simulcast with Westlake's sister city, Tralee, Ireland, where it will be midnight. Dignitaries of Tralee will do the 30-second countdown to the ball's drop.

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Volume 2, Issue 25, Posted 11:02 AM, 12.23.2010