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.

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