November 1834 witnessed a series of events that forever linked Case Western Reserve University, The Ohio State University, Lake Erie College and the newly named Willoughby, Ohio in the annals of Ohio educational lore. The first event was rather typical of many town's histories. The village of Chagrin, founded in 1798, changed its name in 1834 to honor Dr. Westel Willoughby, a pioneer medical educator. The second event occurring in the same year saw the Willoughby medical college open its doors. This medical school, the first in Northern Ohio, was named after Dr. Westel Willoughby, Jr., President of the Fairfield Medical College in Herkimer County, New York. Co-founded by John M. Henderson and Dr. Willoughby, two of Dr. Willoughby's students had established local practices in 1813 and 1819, thus paving the way for their arrival.
Dr. Willoughby, Dr. Henderson and Dr. George W. Card taught at the medical college, which enjoyed great success until the mid 1840's. Faculty disputes, a poor economy, and student grave robbing for cadavars led to the abandonment of the site by 1847. Dr. Willoughby left in 1843. Remaining faculty members relocated and pioneered the eventual formation of Case-Western Reserve and Ohio State Universities accordingly. The abandoned medical college site became the new educational home of the Willoughby Female Seminary. Women attending were able to take higher education classes and receive degrees in the arts and sciences. In 1856, the Seminary changed venues to Painesville and with the securing of several donations opened Lake Erie College for Women in 1859. Lake Erie College is now a coeducational institution and a key link in the early history of Lake County.
Today Historical Marker (8-43) commemorates the establishment of an early medical college in northeast, Ohio which laid the foundation for world-renowned CWRU and the OSU medical complex. To view the rest of the story, just travel down Route 20 for about ten miles and stop at Lake Erie College.