The 'Gilded Age' was an era in American history that for the most part spanned the years 1870-1929. It marked a period of history that saw unprecedented wealth, rapid industrialization, and a social era far above the previous norms. The 'Gilded Age' of Cleveland is generally said to have begun in 1875 and ended around 1929. While Cleveland's Gilded Age rivaled any other city of its day and its Millionaire's Row equaled any other of the time, one city in Lake County is oft forgotten in these conversations. Wickliffe, founded in 1916 was home to some of the era's biggest names. The estates of Rockefeller, Corrigan, Squire, Coulby and McKinney still merit mention today as you travel the roads of Wickliffe and Lake County. Below is but a brief synopsis of these storied Wickliffe families.
Franklin 'Frank' Rockefeller - Wickliffe High School and the BOE building (former Rockefeller carriage house) are part of the farm property once called home by Franklin 'Frank' Rockefeller. Most famous as a part of his brothers Standard Oil Company, a disagreement led him to leave the company and pursue other business advantures. Rockefeller did partner with fellow Wickliffe resident James Corrigan on a mine property near Lake Superior.
Harry C. Coulby - 'Coulallenby' was started in 1911 and completed in 1913. A terra cottage exterior, wrought iron fence, stone pillars, round foyer, and Tiffany skylight were just a few features of this 54 acre family estate. Coulby achieved his fortunes on the lakes. Forming the Interlake Shipping Company in the early 1900's, part of the former Pickands, Mather Company,est. 1883 - Coulby could view his ships passing by from his second floor bedroom windows. Today the estate serves as Wickliffe's City Hall, a position Coulby himself held. The grounds are part of the city recreation center and parks.
Fergus B. Squire - An executive of Standard Oil Company and former mayor of Wickliffe, Squire is most remembered for a 525 acre property in Willoughby Hills known as Squire's Castle. The gatehouse and its story are well known- often mentioned tales by locals and need not be repeated here. Squire left public life in 1909 and called his Wickliffe estate Cobblestone Garth. Modified over the years, the stately home with a distinctive lighthouse structure still remains for passer-bys.
Price MCKinney - Eleven acres on the northwest corner of Rt. 84 and the Bishop Road spur on Euclid Avenue were the former site of this notable estate. Today Borromeo Seminary and Telshe Yeshiva occupy the site. Mc Kinney was a partner with James Corrigan in the 'steel mill' industry. Upon Corrigan's death in 1908, McKinney took over the business. Internal strife led to him losing control of the company to Corrigan's son. The steel mill in time became Republic Steel. McKinney committed suicide in 1925.
James Corrigan - Corrigan and his wife Laura Mae led interesting lives in the 'Gilded Age'. Laura Mae will be featured in a separate blog in 2014. Corrigan partnered with F. Rockefeller in a mining adventure. Corrigan was also business partners with McKinney in the steel industry of the day. The Corrigan estate is now the site of Pine Ridge Country Club in Wickliffe.
As you travel the roadways of Lake County, if you find yourself on Rt. 84 in Wickliffe there is much to see from our 'Gilded Age.'