Cahoon Memorial Park

“This is the most beautiful place on earth,” declared Margaret Cahoon taking in the beauty of her farm nestled on the south shore of Lake Erie. And so it was.

In 1810, Lydia Cahoon found room in their crowded wagon for a rose bush. The story is told that it thrived and many rose bushes around the area were shoots off this rose. Thus, Margaret gave the farm it’s name, Rose Hill.

“As this house has been in possession of the family for three generations, I hope it will continue for many more but if it should be there is no longer one of the name to inherit it, I hope it may have founded upon it a benevolent institution bearing the name of Cahoon,” wrote Margaret in her autobiography.

Today, Cahoon Memorial Park in Bay Village is the site of two hidden treasures, Rose Hill Museum and The Osborn Learning Center.

Joseph built the homestead house in 1818 on the west hill overlooking the creek. As you walk through the door of Rose Hill you are immediately transported back to 1818 with the original fireplace, the hand-planed doors and Norfolk hardware. Joel Cahoon’s flintlock rifle leans against the fireplace next to William Saddler’s powder box from the War of 1812.

An 1810 Bennington, Vermont, pottery jar sits on a table and Henry Winsor’s 1800 cherry desk highlight the room.

Moving on, your eyes explore the Empire/Victorian Room and you immediately notice that success from hard work was enjoyed by these early families. The beauty of this room is only surpassed by the view of the valley out the windows. This room contains Cahoon furniture plus keepsakes from early settlers.

In the library is the collection of Cahoon books, plate maps, and children’s books. Early settler’s papers are housed in acid-free folders in a Genealogy Room.

Downstairs in the cellar, the Wischmeyer hand-carved boats, early farm tools, crockery, and tin ware tell the story of life on the farm.

The original cooking fireplace, poplar floors and green tree plugs from 1818 are visible.

On the second floor is a portrait gallery, period bedrooms, a millinery, and children’s room. You will notice the contrast between the rope bed in the 1818 bedroom and the Victorian, carved walnut, feather bed. A 1900 bear named Teddy and the Wischmeyer buggy are displayed along with an assortment of toys, games, books and dolls.

Also in the park is the 1814 Reuben Osborn House. Inside you learn who we are and where we come from. Sit and watch a video telling stories of life in Dover Township. Enjoy the displays of picture boards laid out by Ward, or with the plastic plate maps of 1854 and 1880, guide yourself to your 2010 house and street. Make a picture to take home. You will realize that a melting pot of people made up Dover Township.

Today, Rose Hill Museum and the Reuben Osborn Learning Center are open to the public from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, April through December. Talking boxes guide you through the displays in Rose Hill and docents are on hand to greet you at the door.

If you have never been to visit this beautiful house, now is the time. Come and see us!

Here today, gone forever

George Serb stated in one of his Bay Village Revisited newspaper memoirs: “All good things must come to an end, an old saying. The CVS Pharmacy plans have been approved for a new store. Many concerned citizens rallied against the project, to no avail. I can’t help it if I seem bitter. I don’t want a special invitation to the groundbreaking.”

And so ended the life of the 1860 Cahoon Store on Dover Center Road built by Joel Cahoon and managed by his sons, Leverett and John Marshall. This grocery store served the Bay community as Edwards Foods, Blahas, Sylvesters, Clausens and then Reehorst Cleaners, for 120 years.

In 1976 for the USA’s Bicentennial, a historic walking tour of Bay Village was designed by the historical society. It consisted of 31 locations. Thirty-four years later, 12 of these locations are gone forever.

Five 1796 Moses Cleveland Trees are gone; one was taken down for I-90. Parkview and Forestview Schools are gone. The Foote and Saddler Landmark Houses are gone. “Castle Garden,” the Baker/Hassler house just west of Huntington Park, is gone. The Zipp Manufacturing building and the Cahoon Store are gone. Some, when torn down, left empty land, while others have large stone and brick houses built in their place. No longer can you walk Lake Road and look at the lake between the houses as these structures are built lot line to lot line.

Bay Village was described by the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1936 as: “A little New England west of Cleveland.” Bay has a more eclectic feel today. Cape Cod houses, Nantucket Row and Winston, and Tudor and Colonial Revival, Bruce and Douglas, are no longer popular with builders. In the 1950s, the ranch style house with bay windows became popular. Today we see a lot of brick, stone, and arched windows.

There are no building regulations in place for our older homes as there are in Hudson and Olmsted Falls. Our Landmark and Century houses are allowed to be torn down.

Today, a large skateboard park has been built in the small historic district on the west side of the valley in Cahoon Park. The Cahoon sister’s house, Capoba Lodge – built in 1910 for their good friends, Emma Paul Pope and Olive Paul Bailey, our first librarians – is in jeopardy. Thank heavens the city was offered the Dover Station and the Osborn house, or they would be gone.

Should we be more concerned with what is going and gone forever? Is it important to keep our past alive? Is it important to keep the houses, buildings and family names that tell the story of the town’s history?

My sister, Gay Menning, and I documented the early settlers from 1810 on with our book, “Bay Village: A Way of Life.” George Serb did the 1920’s – 1940’s with his memoirs. Sam Milliken wrote stories of growing up in Bay in the 30’s and 40’s. But, there are still stories to tell.

Now we need you to help us document more of the 40’s and add the 50’s. Who will document the 60’s through the 2000’s. Who will help us preserve the buildings and houses left in our town?

German farms and the Wischmeyers

Warm sunny days and cool nights brought a migration of German people to North Dover Township in the 1850s. They purchased acreage from the Foote, Winsor, Aldrich, Eddy, Bassett and Hurst properties on the west end of Dover Township along Walker, Bradley and Bassett Roads.

Some farmed into South Dover (Westlake) extending down Bassett Road – which they called “the elbow,” as it made many right and left, 90 degree, turns around farmer’s fields – until it exited on Dover Center Road near the Center Ridge business area.

Germans who settled in North Dover included: Hagedorns, Daviders, Meilanders, Peters, Toensings, Kochs, Krumwiedes, Starkes, Wolfs, Albers, Dieterichs and Wischmeyers. They planted orchards of fruit trees and grape vineyards. Produce went to market in baskets called ponies, bushels, pecks, quarts and pints made at the Oviatt family basket factory.

They spoke German in their homes, wore wooden shoes, and read the German newspaper. They traveled in their farm wagons to Ohio City on the near west side to sell their produce and to attend church. They constructed St. Paul Lutheran Church and school on Detroit Road. They lived a quiet and structured existence.

On Link Road, today Ashton Lane, a German Mission Ground was built on property purchased from David Sites. It had a pavilion and bowling alley for their entertainment. The Krumwiedes, Daviders and Kochs were excellent carpenters and built many fine Bay Village homes. The Peters ran a sawmill at Bradley and Naigle Roads, and the Starkes were landscape designers with acres planted in chrysanthemums on Bradley Road. Many of their houses still stand today as century homes.

Henry Wischmeyer Sr. arrived in Ohio City in 1854. He met Regina Rentschler, and raised a family of eight. His life’s dream was to own acreage and grow grapes as his family had done in Germany.

He found just the right place on the old Humphrey and Gardner lands, Lot #96, in North Dover Township. Today, this is the Bruce, Russell and Douglas Road area of Bay. Henry started with a two-acre grape vineyard in the 1860s and erected a family home on the south side of Lake Road near Glen Park Creek.

By 1874, he had most of his acres in grapes and had built a 10,000-gallon wine cellar on the north side of Lake Road. As the family prospered, Henry added a 70-bed hotel, pavilion and boat house. Using the train and interurban, traveling salesmen and families came to the hotel for relaxation by the lake. The Wischmeyer girls cooked the meals, and the boys worked the farm.

In 1926, Bay council passed a law prohibiting businesses on Lake Road and the hotel closed. Henry Jr. began selling lakefront lots, and soon houses were appearing where grape vineyards once stood. The Metropolitan Subdivision was developed in the 1920s.

By the 1940s, with only Henry Jr. living, the grayed hotel with its many verandas stood empty. It was burned down in 1962 by the Bay fire department. Today, only the cook house and family home remain. The vineyard east of Douglas Road was developed in the late 1950s as the Bruce/Russell Road horseshoe.

One of our Germans, Frank Meilander, gave us our name. He said, “We are a village located on a bay.”

Clang, clang, clang went the trolley

To some it was exciting, to some, necessary, and to others, convenient.

On October 6, 1897, the first maroon deck car, a 40-foot Brill with 22.5 tons weight and a 50-horsepower motor, rolled west from Cleveland to the heart of Lorain, partly on private right-of-way track, 40 to 66 feet wide, with 70 pound rail spiked to oak ties. The Lake Shore Electric Interurban (trolley) had come to North Dover Township.

Leaving the Cleveland station at 25 Public Square, the trolley turned onto the West Superior Avenue approach to the High Level Bridge subway. Down the trolley went to the lower level. Crossing the Cuyahoga River, the trolley surfaced on Detroit Street and turned right onto Lake Avenue running downhill to Edgewater Park.

Entering Clifton Boulevard, the trolley traveled west along the tree lawn entering into mid street at the Rocky River station (Coulter’s Drug Store) at Sloane and Detroit Roads. It crossed the bridge span approaching double track right-of-way opposite the Westlake Hotel. Making a sharp ‘S’ turn at the Nickel Plate underpass, the trolley straightened out as it picked up speed through North Dover at 60 mph.

The whistle shrieking at the many crossroads, it sailed across the trestles at Cahoon and Huntington. Soon the station at Beach Park, Avon Lake, 19.7 miles from Cleveland, appeared in the distance.

Numbered destination stops started in Rocky River with stop number 1. Continuing west: Clague Road was 13, Columbia Road 17, Dover Center Road 23, Cahoon Road 24, Bassett 32, Bradley Road 35, Eagle Cliff 38.

School children rode to school on trolley passes paid for by the Board of Education. Commuters took the trolley to work. Butter, eggs, fruits and vegetables went to market on the trolley. The family could spend a day of recreation in the country or visit the folks in the city. Picnickers had a varied choice of spots at which to stop: Scenic Park in the Rocky River valley, Hahn’s Grove (Bradstreet Landing), Wischmeyer Hotel, Huntington Beach, Linwood Park, Beulah Beach, Rye Beach, Volunteer Bay, and Cedar Point.

Tuttles, Osborns, Saddlers, and Cahoons offered cottages for rent. Developers like Mars/Wagner’s Dover Bay Subdivision began laying out streets with 50 foot lots on the old Dover Bay Grape Company land. City folk bought the land and built cottages. North Dover swelled with summer visitors. Soon five more subdivisions were laid out in the farmers’ fields. Families built permanent homes and stayed. North Dover grew.

In 1903, North Dover became the Village of Bay. Soon the town thought we might need another east/west road and, in the 1920s, Wolf Road became more than just an idea.

Although it made life easier, there were drawbacks. Accidents happened, some tragically. Louis Wischmeyer was killed by a trolley at Bradley Road. The Massey family lost their father who was walking the Cahoon trestle. Automobiles afforded families more independence and trolley ridership dropped off. Soon, the interurban was losing money. The last car left Cleveland May 15, 1938, replaced by the orange buses of the Lake Shore Coach Line.

Today, the right-of-way is part of our Bay Village backyards, Huntington Reservation trestle, and Electric Drive(s).

The Washington Lawrence mansion

Washington Lawrence, who was born in Olmsted Township in 1840, attended Baldwin University in Berea, Ohio. He was an associate of Charles F. Brush, the inventor of the arc light and the lighting of Cleveland’s Public Square in 1879.

By 1886, the National Carbon Company was founded by Myron T. Herrick, James Parmalee and Webb Hays. A large plant was built on Madison Avenue near 117th St. on the west side of Cleveland. Washington Lawrence became president of the company and served until his death in 1900.

Washington married Harriett Collister and reared seven daughters. In the 1870s, he and his family enjoyed coming to the Dover-Bay Colony in Dover Township to summer in the fresh air. Washington decided to purchase three farms east of the Dover-Bay Colony. They were situated along the lake from Clague Road east to the township line and south to the railroad tracks. In 1880, he came into the possession of the Dover-Bay Colony next door and invited several prominent citizens of Cleveland to erect cottages on the park grounds.

By the summer of 1892, life was going strong at the Colony with the addition of a golf course. In 1889, Washington built a clubhouse so the group had a place to congregate.

Washington decided to build himself a fine home on his property. He chose to build his mansion in the Romanesque style popular from 1870-1890. This was a romantic imitation of the past that combined classic and gothic revival. From mid-century on, this style, with its stunning visuals, was a metaphor of great wealth and sudden success that they could create.

The address was 23200 Lake Road. The Cleveland Plain Dealer in “Cleveland Town Topics” reported, “The Washington Lawrences have for several weeks been occupying their splendid new mansion at the Bay… April 29, 1899.”

The mansion contained three sitting rooms, a library, a beautiful dining room, a kitchen, and a massive hall and stairway that led to eight bedrooms on the second floor. The third floor featured a ballroom, two bedrooms, an enormous linen closet, and the servant’s quarters. A section was reserved as a sewing room for the people who came a few times a year to make the family wardrobes. On the opposite corners of the house were two octagonal rooms. The sunroom was on the first floor, and the sitting room off the master bedroom was on the second floor.

The home, unfortunately, was not completely finished before Mr. Lawrence’s death in 1900. While inspecting the workmanship of his new home one day, he fell from the second floor. Having survived this fall, he died months later from an illness. Mrs. Lawrence remained at the house with one of her daughters, Ella, and her husband, William Matthews. It remained in the family until the 1940’s.

In October 1948, the Cleveland Osteopathic Association purchased the old Lawrence mansion to accommodate its growing hospital. They moved from Cleveland to Bay Village and operated an 85-bed hospital with modern facilities. The Richard Sheppard Sr. family was in charge of the hospital. In 1952, a west wing was added. This was a successful business for many years. The hospital closed about 1979, and the mansion building was converted into the main building of the Cashalmara (“Stone House” in Gaelic) condominium complex.

The Lawrence Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Capoba Lodge

The house at 459 Cahoon Road, on the northeast corner of Wolf and Cahoon roads, was built as a result of a friendship between two sets of sisters.

The Cahoon sisters had two friends named Mrs. Pope and Mrs. Bailey. Mrs. Emma Paul Pope was the widow of the Cahoon sister’s minister, Rev. Pope, from the Methodist Episcopal Church in Cleveland. The other was Emma’s sister, Mrs. Olive Paul Bailey-Kennard. Both were widowed.

After the Cahoon sisters retired from teaching, they sold their Cleveland home and moved to the Rose Hill farm to live. In 1910, the generous Cahoon sisters built a house south of the barn to provide their friends with a place to live and for seven years enjoyed their companionship. The house was called Capoba Lodge taking the first two letters from each of their last names (Cahoon, Pope and Bailey).

In Ida Cahoon’s book, “Looking Backward,” Ida references Capoba Lodge two times, describing the wonderful picnics in the country her Saturday Club enjoyed at the lodge.

The Cahoon farmland totaled 115 acres in 1919 when the Cahoon Will was probated. Wolf Road did not exit. The Cahoon’s south acreage was purchased from the Village of Bay by the Board of Education and Parkview School was built in 1922. A sidewalk was laid from the interurban stop #24 to the front door of the school for the children when they stepped off the trolley. This walkway, with trees bordering both sides, is still there today. When Wolf Road was laid out in 1926, the house at 459 Cahoon Road became the northeast corner of Cahoon and Wolf Roads.

Mrs. Pope and Mrs. Bailey became the first librarians of the Dover-By-The-Lake Library located in the Rose Hill homestead house. In December 1921, Mayor Wright asked the sisters if they would start a library. Mayor George Morgan, in 1922, gave the sisters $100 to catalog the books and open a library. The stored Cahoon book collection and Mrs. Pope’s husband’s collection filled the shelves. This satisfied the stipulations of the Cahoon Will stating that the Rose Hill homestead house become a library and museum.

The will also stipulated that these ladies could live at Capoba Lodge until their death. The Village of Bay now has a library near the new school for the children to use.

Mrs. Pope was killed by a car on Lake Road, walking home from a Methodist Church service. Mrs. Bailey remarried and moved to California to be near her daughter. Their house then became part of the rental properties left by the family to generate income for the upkeep of the park.

Julia Osborn Scott was a librarian at Dover Bay Library in the 1930s. The library then became part of the Cuyahoga County Library system. By 1960, the library had grown too large for the house and a new one was built south of Wolf and Dover Center Roads. Today, the library is located on Cahoon Road on property once owned by Samuel Osborn and the Board of Education.

In 1973, the city designated monies be given for the restoration of the Rose Hill homestead house into a working museum in accordance with the Cahoon Will. It opened as Rose Hill Museum under the direction of the Bay Village Historical Society for the Christmas season in 1975. The Cahoon barn was remodeled into a community center in 1936 as a WPA project. These three buildings, along with the 1815 Ruben Osborn House, are part of the historical area in Cahoon Memorial Park today.

The Cahoon family

On the morning of October 10, 1810, the Joseph and Lydia Cahoon family wagon stopped at the mouth of a creek on the southern shore of Lake Erie in Ohio country. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the family thanked the Lord for their safe journey.

They were in their new home, Lot #95 in Dover Township #7, Range #15, in the State of Connecticut’s Western Reserve after six weeks of wilderness travel from Vergennes, Vermont. They immediately began building a cabin and within the next eight years constructed the first grist mill west of the Cuyahoga River, a sawmill and a house on the west hill. This would become the family home for the next 117 years.

Joseph’s children, who stayed in the area, were Samuel and Mary in North Ridgeville, William and Benjamin in Elyria, Rebecca in Cleveland, Abigail in Westlake, and Franklin in Norwalk, Ohio. Wilber, a half brother, made his home in Avon. The Lot#95 farm and mills were left to Joel Cahoon, the third son.

Joel married a young widow named Margaret Dickson Van Allen in Frederick City, Maryland, in 1831. Her father was a congressional leader in Washington, D.C., and Margaret grew up in a house across the street from the Capital. Margaret started attending school when she was 4 years old. During the War of 1812, her father took her to the senate chambers to see the fire damage and the burned White House.

She grew up listening to famous orators like Daniel Webster. The chief justices of the Supreme Court visited her parents and Senator Buchannan delivered the family mail to Maryland on trips to Pennsylvania. Margaret’s extensive education and strong religious beliefs along with Joel’s good work ethic were instilled in their children.

In 1842, Joel brought Margaret and their growing family of 11 to Dover Township. The six boys and five girls grew to be far-sighted entrepreneurs and successful businessmen and women. Thomas was a Cleveland councilman and had a lumber business. Joseph invented a cotton compactor which helped transform the cotton industry in Memphis, Tennesee. Leverett and John Marshal became successful businessmen in the area, building and operating a grocery store and boat house. Leverett became an expert in the viticulture industry in the State of Ohio. Lydia, Laura, Martha and Ida became school teachers in the Cleveland School System, often teaching immigrant children their first English words.

Lydia started the Ladies Aid Society at the Methodist church. Ida was on the township school board and helped procure the Easterly School House for the Presbyterian church. The family books became the Dover on the Lake Library in the Cahoon house.

Land for City Hall was donated to the city. The family permitted train tracks to be laid on their property in exchange for the Dover train station being located on Dover Center Road. Parkview School was built on Cahoon land purchased from the city. The farm, left to the citizens of the Village of Bay in the 1917 Cahoon Will, became Cahoon Memorial Park.

The Cahoons left us more than a park. They left the legacy that a good education, along with a good work ethic, produces results and success.