Huntington Farm Pumpkins
By Michele Yamamoto
In recognition of October and fall and all things pumpkin, Bay Village Historical Society is showcasing a November 2, 1915 photo of caretaker Charles Rahl (b. 1859 d. 1948) at the old Huntington Estate farm. It was donated by Helen Osterman who was a friend of the Rahl family. Mr. Rahl is standing in front of the barn with several very large pumpkins he has grown. The weight of all four totaled 701 lbs.!
The area we now know as Huntington Beach and Reservation was once owned by English immigrant and Cleveland industrialist John Huntington (b. 1832, d.1893). Today, all that is left to remind us of the estate is the old water tower, pump house and a large carriage stepping stone bearing the Huntington name.
Huntington bought the property in 1880 and soon built a summer home and hobby farm. His family’s large “cottage” was located on the north side of Lake Road until it burned down in the 1920s. The Huntington barn and carriage house, possibly built many decades before Huntington’s arrival, was located on the south side of Lake Road, where the old Huntington Playhouse building is located today.
Huntington caretaker Charles and his wife Kate Rahl lived in a home on the property that is part of the BAYarts campus today. Residents of Bay knew to call this house before taking a swim on the Huntington property beach. Mr. Rahl would give permission, providing the Huntington family wasn’t in residence.
In 1925, Cleveland Metroparks bought the John Huntington Estate for $500,000. Bay Village residents now had one of the best public beaches of any town for miles and they no longer had to ask permission to use it.
A community theater group took over the old Huntington barn and carriage house by 1958 and converted it into the Huntington Playhouse. It burned down in May of 1970. The stage was the only feature left intact. Oats and corncobs, lodged between the floor boards, were found scattered in the rubble, a reminder of the many years the building was a working barn and stable for riding horses. At least two newspaper articles from May of 1970 in our scrapbook collection list the building as being 140 years old. If true, this would put the original build date into the 1830s, when the property was owned by Eliphalet and Margary Johnson. Eliphalet was a brother of Sarah Osborn, one of the earliest settlers of Bay Village (then Dover Township). The playhouse was able to build a new structure that would recreate the look of the old barn on the original location. The players were able to perform their first production in the new building, the musical Oklahoma!, by the summer of 1971. The structure’s newest renovations, which began in 2019 by BAYarts, are reported to continue in 2023.
We Need You!
Your donations and memberships help keep these artifacts preserved and accessible to all and can be made by visiting our webpage https://www.bayhistorical.com/support-us/. We appreciate any support you may give.
If you have any questions or information for us or are interested in volunteering with Bay Village Historical Society, please call us at (440) 871-7338 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come visit us!
We have fashion on display at the Rose Hill Museum, with an emphasis on the 1920s. The museum is open on Sundays in April-December from 2:00pm to 4:30pm.
Next to the Rose Hill Museum is the Osborn Learning Center which now showcases exhibits ranging from Eliot Ness and the “Untouchables” to the Sheppard murder case. It also houses various research materials from our archives for visitors.