The following piece was researched using articles written by Bay Village Historical Society historians George Serb and Kay Laughlin, who shared their knowledge of the subject in 1997 and 2013, respectively.
The next time you visit the grounds of the Rose Hill Museum, you will notice near the south porch a cast iron bell now hanging near the staircase down to the Cahoon cabin. This bell has historical significance as it used to hang next to the pulpit of the old Lutheran Mission Grounds.
The Lutheran Mission Grounds was an outdoor gathering spot in Bay Village, used by various Lutheran churches from the west side of Cleveland during summers from June to September. It was located between Bassett and Bradley Roads, reaching south to the railroad tracks, with a road north to Ashton Lane (formerly Link Road). The 10-acre site was purchased from farmer David Sites in 1886 by the churches who were looking for a wooded piece of land out in the country. They eventually erected buildings to house mission festivals, school picnics and other church gatherings. Those attending could ride the train from Cleveland to the site, later driving when automobiles became the preferred mode of transportation.
George Serb remembered visiting the grounds in the late 1930s. Serb’s Lakeshore Ice Company delivered to Lutheran Mission Grounds on Sunday mornings for the refrigerators and coolers located in the large kitchen. A single lane bowling alley (built in 1904), upon which the pins had to be set by hand, was one unique feature Serb recalled using with his classmates. He mentions that a Mr. William Toensing, who lived near the property with his son Leonard, was the caretaker.
The bell has served different purposes over the years. The original bell of the Lutheran Mission Grounds was stolen at some point and replaced with the steam engine bell you see at Rose Hill. It was donated to the church by the New York Central & St. Louis Railroad. When the Lutheran Mission Grounds closed in 1964, that bell was given to the Victor Toensing family for safe keeping. Janet Toensing Bremke took it with her when she moved to Amherst. Janet and her brother Carl Toensing then gifted the bell to the Bay Village Historical Society in 2011, in memory of their brother Robert.
You may see the Lutheran Mission Grounds bell anytime outside of the Rose Hill Museum in Cahoon Memorial Park. Tours of the inside of the home are given Sundays in April through December from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (excluding holiday weekends). Our temporary exhibition, Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things is currently on display, along with our permanent collection of early American artifacts. You may also contact us at (216) 319-4634 / email@example.com.