Monday, April 20, 2015

Willoughby's Chandler-Tucker Estate

As one drives the roadways of Lake County it is quite easy to miss county history as present day cityscapes hide or minimize signature structures from our past.  Fitting the bill is the story of the former Chandler-Tucker Estate located on Rt. 84 in Willoughby, Ohio.  In 1911 a property located on Ridge Road overlooking the Chagrin Valley to the south and Lake Erie to the north known as Elgercon is passed down to Gertrude Chandler Tucker.  The Chandler Family fortune was made by her parents who made a printing press (part of the Mayfield Historical Society collection).  In 1900 seventy-one acres of land are bought by Harrison T- Chandler.  This is the land that by 1913 becomes a prominent estate of the day.  Gertrude and her husband Stanley Tucker build a mansion, barns, out buildings and acquire more acreage (Burroughs Nature Club) in the valley that now is known as Gully Brook.  Their stone mansion faced Ridge Road and was built from materials from Cleveland's West Side.  Local railroads as well as horse and wagon transport aided in the construction project which now included stables, carriage houses, gardens, a greenhouse and garages.  Some pre-exisitng structures were relocated in the build.  In 1923 the one room school house was acquired on the site of today's YMCA.  The Chandler-Tucker estate remained a local fixture in Willoughby until Gertrude's passing in 1953.

At the time of her death the estate was left to Western Reserve University but a title transfer in June 1954 allowed the Willoughby-Eastlake School System to acquire the stone mansion and much of the property.  Twenty rooms in the mansion now were home to 200 elementary students.  A caretaker's home was used as the Sunnty Lane School for retarded children.  Another tenant house was used by the Community Fund and Red Cross organizations.  The barns were repurposed as industrial arts classes for the school system by 1955. Music, wood and metal shop out buildings came into play. As Willoughby's schools grew and moved out of the main mansion structures a Nursing School used the site.

Fast foward to the 60's and beyond.  Chandler Road was renamed Shankland Road in 1958 and in '63 the YMCA found its home on their property.  A public swimming pool opened in 1965.  1959 saw a high school built on the Chandler-Tucker estate and a middle school followed in 1972.  The Little Red Schoolhouse was moved and situated on the property in 1977.  1981 saw a police station dedicated on their former estate.  The Gully Brook property was targeted in 2004 to become part of Lake Metroparks- an event that officially came to be just a few years ago.

The Chandlers and Tuckers are laid to rest in a mausoleum in Cleveland's Lakeview Cemetery.  Their mansion and property located on Rt. 84 and Shankland Road are there to view on your next trip thru Willoughby, Ohio - another hidden gem in our county's history.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bus Tour to Highlight Our Remarkable Lake County

Founded in 1840, Lake County is Ohio's smallest county but when it comes to history it may stand atop the list. Seventy-nine properties in the county have been designated National Historic Sites.  Another twenty-seven sites have garnered historical markers from the Ohio Historical Society.   Lake Metroparks is offering a bus tour this month on Wednesday April 29.  A  brief lecture precedes a driving tour of some of our county's hidden architectural and historical gems.  Revisit a cityscape when mansions dotted the Wickliffe and Kirtland communities.  See some of the early homes in downtown Willoughby dating back to 1810.  Travel the roads of Mentor, Painesville and other local townships for often missed gems dating back to the Western Reserve Era and early American history.

Tour Highlights include-
‘Couallenby’ – Harry Coulby’s humble beginnings belie his importance in county history.  He became Czar of the Lakes as a shipping magnate and Wickliffe’s first mayor in 1916.
Mooreland Mansion-  The Grand Summer Home of Edward Moore encompassed 1300 acres in its day.  Built in 1898, it entrance was located where the Olive Garden currently occupies at the Great Lakes Mall.  This interurban railroad baron’s family lived at Mooreland until 1981 on what is now Lakeland Community College.
Lantern Court – Warren and Maud Corning married in 1928 and within a year began construction of their Georgian-style home.  An investment banker by trade this summer home became their full-time residence after WWII.
Other sites include Frank Rockefeller’s site, Mentor Knitting Works, Havel’s Florist and much more.

For tour information visit

Monday, April 6, 2015

Interurban Railway Changes Lake County Forever

The year was 1896 and from Detroit to Buffalo and as far south as Wheeling a new system of transportation was impacting the communities far and wide.  In Northern Ohio and specifically in Lake County these changes would influence our county footprint forever.  The first electric railway system developed in 1896 ran from Cleveland to Painesville.  Shortly thereafter it stretched into Ashtabula and in 1910 beyond Buffalo.  The C.P.&E. (Cleveland,Painesville and Eastern RR) and the C.P.&A. (Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula RR) were their official names.  Their hub was located in a depot in downtown Willoughby.  Also located at the depot/barn hub was an electric generating plant.  This railway syndicate was conceived, developed and operated by two local gentlemen Edward Moore and Henry Everett.  In time this partnership added the LSE line (Lake Shore Electric) to their venture.  The year was 1901 and the routes now covered Cleveland to Toledo and spanned passenger lines to Willoughbeach, Fairport and Painesville.  The main line ran from Public Square to Painesville.  Stops 40-49-55-89 traversed Lake County.

The impact of Moore and Everett's syndicate of electric railways was far reaching in many ways.  First farmers from Lake and Ashtabula counties now had a means to move their produce more economically to Cleveland. Conversely, consumers now had access to downtown Cleveland and the shops located in the heart of the city.  Secondly, the C.P.&E. line allowed the beginnings of the 'country estates' era in Lake County.  The Halle Farm, Couallenby, Rockefeller Estate, Hanna Estate and Mooreland Mansion are just a few famous names from our past.  Third electricity came to Lake County due to the interurban.  Homes in Willoughby, Mentor, Madison and such now had low cost power as a reality. 

Some Interurban Trivia -
Willoughbeach (Lakeshore in Willowick) and Euclid Beach Park tourism and amusement seekers used the interurban daily.
The last numbered stop was Park Place in Painesville - number 89.
Rockefeller and Moore both had private interurban lines on their properties.
Gavi's catering in Willoughby now occupies the old electric plant.
The old barn and hub depot is now occupied by Willoughby Brewing Co.-stop #40.
The James A. Garfield residence had a stop - number 55.
The interurban railway line changed an 8-hour carriage trip to an hour.
The Little Mountain Estates of the 1800's gave way to summer farms for the wealthy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lake County Mini-Profile -- The Mentor Miscellany Club

Lucretia R. Garfield (1832-1918), Virginia Small (1921-2013), Mabel Miller (1921-2014) and Marthajoy Waite (1937-2015) all share one thing in common.  They were past-presidents of the Mentor Miscellany Club.  Here is the story of the first woman's literary club in Lake County, a club that remains active to this date.

The story of Lucretia R. Garfield is fairly well-known.  Born in Garrettsville, Ohio in 1832, she met her future husband while he served as professor and president of The Western Reserve Eclectic College (Hiram College).  James A. Garfield left Hiram College to serve in the Civil War before embarking on a meteoric rise in political circles that led to his Presidency and tragic assasination in 1881.  Lucretia was a well educated woman and noted player in all circles of the day including her brief time in Washington D.C.  It was their time there that they attended literary socials together and discussed topics of the day among the Washington power players.

Upon her husband's death, the shy and reserved nature that Lucretia once possessed resumed upon her return to their beloved Lawnfield in Mentor,Ohio.  For the next 36 years she was a formidable women in history.  In 1898 she co-founded the Mentor Miscellany Club - a women's book club fashioned on her experiences in Washington socialite circles.  It was the first of its kind in the county and perhaps Ohio.  They met at members homes and discussed books or topics related to a yearlong theme, i.e., American History.

Lucretia moved to Pasadena, California in 1901 to avoid the winters of Ohio.  Her commitment to these book clubs continued through the remaining years of her life.  Lawnfield remained in the family possession into the 1930's.  Lucretia continued to be a juggernaut with the Parade of Roses, Democratic Party and other intellectual passions but the book club in Mentor always remained foremost in her legacy.  She visited the club as time allowed upon return visits to see her children and grandchildren - still prominent names in Mentor History.  More importantly her club has remained vibrant for 117 years now - a link to our past.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Crunching the Numbers" -- Our County Numbers in the early years

Indeed numbers are important.  Ask any financial planner, certified public accountant or just remember the IRS tax day of April 15th each year.  Numbers are even more important to the preservation of county history and especially community history.  A connection with numbers can go far deeper than one ever imagined.  Let's crunch the numbers today in County #43 - Ohio's smallest county but perhaps largest when it comes to Ohio history.

1600's - Local Indian tribes populate the future Lake County in Eastlake, Grandon and other shoreline communities.
1750 - Charlton, French Trading Post is built on the mouth of the Chagrin River
1797 - Marsh Settlement established by Charles Parker in Mentor area.
1801 - Blooming Grove (Walworth) and Oak Openings (Paine) settlements appear.
1802 -  Settlements in Concord (Jordan) and Leroy(Clapp) follow.
1803 - New Market is laid out by A. Skinner and E. Paine
1803 - First Postal Service in county begins.
1804 - First school appears - A. Tappan is schoolmaster.
1808 - First settlement in Perry (Beebe)
1809 - Chapintown (Madison) settled.
1810 - Painesville Congregational Church -first ever in county
1812 - Grandon laid out (Fairport-1836, Fairport Harbor-1959)
1817 - A. Tarbelle settlement in Wickliffe.
1825 -  The opening of the Erie Canal allows for the establishment of the Grand River Lighthouse at Grandon (Fairport Harbor)
1828 - First boat building occurs on Dock Road
1829 - Mathews home is built by J. Goldsmith
1833 - Joseph Smith decrees a Mormon structure be built.  This building is the Kirtland Temple.
1834 - Willoughby Medical College established.
1840 -  Lake County is officially recognized by the State of Ohio and becomes county #43.
1841 - Vineyard House is constructed
1847 - Willoughby Female Seminary established - becomes Lake Erie College
1850 - Griffith disaster off Willobeach Park.
1852-  Coe &Wilkes in Painesville opens
1876 - James A. Garfield acquires the Dickey Farm on Mentor Avenue.
1890's - Gilded Age of Cleveland brings Storied Families and Millionaires Row to Wickliffe
1902 - Painesville becomes a city.
1906 - Mooreland Mansion
1909 - Andrews School is founded.
1912 - Fairgrounds on Mentor Avenue replaces original one on Bank Street in Painesville from 1800's.
1912 - Halle Summer Estate at Penitentiary Gulch begun.
1912 - Diamond Alkali begins its history
1913 - Holden Arboretum history unfolds.
1920's - Estates of Kirtland Hills arrives - Hanna and others
1924 - Mentor-on-the-Lake incorporated.
1926 - US Route 20 - 3365 miles of E-W coast-to-coast roadways established
1928 - Waite Hill Village incorporated.

We yearn in our real lives not to be considered "just a number." This is just the tip of the county iceberg when you begin to crunch numbers.  In time more posts will continue to crunch the numbers in Ohio's smallest county!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Reminisce" Part II

reminisce - verb
                definition - to indulge in an enjoyable collection of past events

Part II continues my journey along the roadways that dot our Lake County landscape.  I hope you will indulge me as I reflect back on some additional people and places from our past. Famous 'places' is the lead today.

June 24, 2013 entry -  Pheasant Run Airport in Leroy Township
A 2011 gift to past,present and future generations was shared on this date.  The vintage era airplane collection is open to the public and is home to many one of a kind aviation artifacts from the early 20th c.

January 24, 2011 entry  - Vineyard House
This 1841 stone home located at 9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road is the oldest on record.  Its history and current day use worhty of reading and visiting.

October 22, 2012 entry  - Girl in Blue / Eli Tarbell and the Medical College
The Twilight Zone dedicated an episode titled 'Last Stop Willoughby' to this county city.  The two stories featured here are part of the unique fabric that is Willoughby, Ohio -  haunted tales to this day.

January 9, 2012 entry  - Gildersleeve Mountain
Settled in 1808, this location is 18 miles from downtown.  If you are not interested in its history, the view alone is worthwhile.

February 3, 2014 entry  -  Wickliffe's Gilded Age Storied Families
Rockefeller, Coulby, Corrigan, Price, McKinney and other emerging industrialists had their estates along Euclid Avenue and Ridge Road in the 19-20th c.

June 2, 2012 entry  - Jonathon Goldsmith
His arrival in the early 1800's from the east was a pivotal moment in both county and Cleveland architectural history. The Grandon Lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, government buildings in Painesville and Geauga County as well as many homesteads including a few on Millionaire's Row are attributed to him.

December 10,2012 entry  -  Leonard C. Hanna Jr.
Travel along the back roads of Kirtland Hills and you will see the grounds of a genuine country village that arrived piece by piece from oversees and became the signature residence of a family and municipality.

Honorable Mention
February 24, 2014 entry - US. Route 20
July 28, 2011 entry  -  Havel's since 1936
August 25, 2011 entry  - The Original Face of Vine Street
February 17, 2011 entry  -  When It Rains It Pours

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Reminisce - Part 1

Local Lore has just recently passed three hundred entries.  When I started back in 2010 I thought this writing effort would be brief and allow me to explore some local history in our county.  When Local Lore hit 100 I realized unless you were counting pennies, one hundred of anything can be a significant accomplishment.  Now that 300 history stories have been told I would like to 'reminisce' - that is indulge in an enjoyable collection of past events.  These stories from our county's past are in no special order and span over five years at this point in time.  They are simply some of my favorite entries to date and interesting facts I learned along the roadways of our county.

October 13, 2011 entry   Ann C. Whitman - Confidential Secretary
Ann hailed from Perry,Ohio and served David Levy, founder of Sears-Roebuck, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller before her passing in 1977.  Her life was the subject of a popular book in our time.

March 3, 2011 entry   'Coulallenby'
The story of Harry S. Coulby is directly linked to our Great Lakes shipping heritage and to the early beginnings of Wickliffe history.  His estate now serves as Wickliffe City Hall and is a tribute to our county's importance in 19th c. America.

August 22, 2013 entry    Robert 'Bobby' Manchester
Bobby Manchester and 19th c. Painesville history are intertwined.  His fourth of July fireworks shows and theatrical productions at the Utopia rivaled downtown Cleveland and Playhouse Square in its heyday.

November 5, 2012 entry   Prop Girl - Patricia J. Hange
Her story as a pioneering woman aviator is not to be forgotten and her place in history and museum Hall of Fame's worth viewing.

March 3, 2013 entry   Laura Mae Corrigan
In Cleveland's Gilded Age this tale from Millionnaire's Row, Lake County History and WWII intrigue is a must read.  Downton Abbey fans will see many parallels in her life story.

November 18, 2010 entry  Lot #32
The story of Brennan's Fish House and early Grand River are most interesting.

February 28, 2011 entry  Penny Players and the Rabbit Run Theater
Founded in 1946 as a barn theater, notable film stars Jessica Tandy, Jim Backus and Marge Redmond  performed there.  It still is a viable performing arts center to this day.

November 14,2011, October 15, 2012, November 3 and 13, 2014 entries   Lake Erie College
The college and campus serve as a blueprint for county history.

Honorable Mentions...
November 11, 2010 entry    Old Ohio Schools - Willoughby Union High School
March 28, 2011 entry          Evergreen Cemetery - A Walk thru Time
September 27, 2012 entry   Donald Blakeslee - Naval Aviator Legend
January 10, 2011 entry        Willowick - Eyewitness to History