Westlake’s beginnings date back to October 10, 1810, when
two families arrived by oxcart to set up homesteads in Township 7, Range 15,
of the recently platted Connecticut Western Reserve. Joseph and
Lydia Cahoon, Asahel and Rebecca Porter and their children and Rebecca's brother, Leverett Johnson, settled in the portion of the township that later became Bay Village.
By 1811, Leverett began clearing land in what later became Westlake. He is considered Westlake's first pioneer.
Others who settled in the Westlake portion of Dover in 1811 include Joseph Root, brothers Abner and Jonathon Smith and their wives (both named Rebecca), brothers
James and Barnabas Hall, and Barnabas' wife Hannah and Noah and Betsey Crocker. All the married couples had children who accompanied them. These individuals and families led the way for many New Englanders who followed them. On
November 14, 1811, Dover Township was incorporated and Westlake considers that the date of the city's founding. Other early families included Cooley, Clemens and Sperry. Many of today's streets are named for these and other early settlers.
The pioneer homesteaders cleared the township’s dense forests to plant crops and provide
pasture for raising horses, cattle and sheep. Waterpower from area
creeks ran sawmills and gristmills. The area that is now the intersection
of Dover Center and Center Ridge Roads was the geographical and
historical center of activity. Located in this area was the Dover
Blast Furnace, which made pig iron from bog ore and operated for
more than 10 years until it burned down in 1844.
in Dover Township evolved into the raising of grain, small fruit
and grapes. The Nickel Plate Railroad laid the first track and operated the first locomotive, which arrived in Dover in 1882. Toward the latter part of the 19th century, the township was the
second largest shipping point for grapes in the United States.
By 1900, Dover Township had a permanent population of 2,233 and an
annual influx of people who owned cottages on Lake Erie. These summer
residents decided they wanted their own community, and, in a bitter
fight, they broke away from Dover Township to form the community of
Bay Village, taking the railroad with them. In 1908, residents of
the southern part of Dover Township also seceded and became part of
North Olmsted. Because township residents were concerned that a township
form of government was inherently unstable, the remaining 15.9 square
mile area was incorporated as Dover Village in 1911.
For the next
three decades, Dover Village grew, with truck and fruit farming
as the backbone of the rural village. During this time, the Clague
family donated their home and land to the village for civic use and recreation,
and Hilliard Boulevard was cut through farmland. Both projects were
aided by laborers from the Works Progress Administration (WPA),
a program launched during the Great Depression that provided work
for the unemployed.
In 1940, Dover was renamed the Village of Westlake to avoid confusion with another community in Ohio named Dover.
As suburbs grew after World War II, Westlake became part of this population shift. By 1950, the population of the village stood at 4,912 – twice what it had been at the turn of the century. Ten years later, in 1960, it had jumped to 12,906, a 162 percent increase over 1950.
This phenomenal growth rate led to an interest in planning to shape the future of Westlake, which became a city in 1957. During the early 1960s, city
officials enacted the city’s first guide plan and municipal
zoning ordinances. These plans separated industry to the northern
parts of the city and set aside specific areas along principal streets
for commercial activity and multifamily development.
During the 1960s and 70s, the city saw the first contemporary
winding subdivisions introduced, as well as the building of King James,
its first office park. Interstate 90 was completed in 1976, linking
the city with downtown Cleveland. By 1980, the population was 19,483.
Soon after, Crocker Road was extended to Center Ridge Road, and Ranney
Parkway was developed as an industrial and office park area. After
five years of planning and two years of construction, St. John West
Shore Hospital opened in 1981. It was later added onto and is now affiliated with University Hospitals and known as St. John Medical Center.
By 1987 more than 10,000 people worked in Westlake and by 1990,
27,018 residents called the city home, some occupying new executive homes
or new luxury apartments or condominiums, and others moving into
well-maintained, existing housing stock. The period also included
the opening of a new public library and a new post office.
The early 1990s saw the construction of several new city
facilities including a police station and two new fire stations, as well as the acquisition of a city golf course, now called Meadowood, and the opening of
a new city-owned westside nature park off Bradley Road. The Promenade of Westlake
shopping center brought a new array of shopping options to the west
side of the city. In 1998, the city built an 80,000 square foot
recreation center in the midst of an 86-acre park and in 2006 added 19,000 square feet to it.
By 2000, the population of Westlake had reached
31,719 and it passed the 33,000 mark just five years later, with a
comparable daytime population consisting of students, workers and
retirees. In 2003, Porter Public Library expanded to 75,000 square
feet, and a new city hall opened. That same year, Cleveland State
University located its first ever satellite campus in Westlake and
Cuyahoga Community College debuted its first Corporate College. The city's newly remodeled and enlarged center for seniors reopened in January 2004 with a new name: Westlake Center for Community Services.
The largest development in the city's history, Crocker Park is
a cutting-edge, mixed-use town center with retail, office and residential
space. A part of Phase 1 opened in November 2004 adjacent to the Promenade, near the intersection of I-90, Crocker and Detroit Roads.
When completed, it will consist of 1.7 million square feet of development
including the already built Main Street with first floor shops and apartments and
offices above. The civic core of the development is a median park
with fountains, chess boards and areas for community events. By 2008, seventy percent of the original project was constructed or had final approval and the majority of the mixed use buildings containing retail, office and apartments had been constructed and occupied.
In November 2007, voters approved an expansion of Crocker Park with another nearly 400,000 square feet of development planned for the land east of the Promenade Shopping Center. Ultimately, the project will contain
2.1 million square feet of development. For-sale housing continues to be constructed and sold inside the western perimeter of Crocker Park. A civic plaza and multi-purpose structure are planned as an additional venue for community events.
Other major facilities developed in the last decade include: Hyland Software, which has renovated two existing corporate buildings and built a number of expansions to keep up with their explosive growth, Five Seasons Country Club, LACENTRE conference facility,
Dave & Buster's, University Hospital Health System, Cleveland Clinic Lakewood Medical Center Phase Two, Premier Physicians Medical Office Building, Lutheran Home's Concord Reserve continuum of care campus, Westlake Service Center, Security Self Storage, Q-Lab, Crocker Corporate Center Office Building, and Paramount Tennis Club.
In December of 2008, Crocker Road was connected with Stearns Road in North Olmsted to provide a direct link between I-90 and I-480 and an easier way for Westlake residents and businesses to access the airport and Ohio Turnpike.
In 2009, special design guidelines were incorporated for the Dover Village area of Westlake to build on the mid-century modern style of buildings in the center of town, and the city acquired additional open space there. In 2010, a study of the city's commercial and industrial areas and trade area began, which shows that the city's non-residential development is evenly divided between retail, office and industrial square footage. The city is also
in the midst of updating its bike plan with the goal of making parts of the city more accessible and safe for pedestrians and cyclists.
The year 2011 was a special one as it marked the bicentennial of Westlake's founding as Dover Township and the centennial of Dover's incorporation as a village.
While the city celebrates, the careful growth continues with Nordson Corporation's new headquarters occupied in December of 2010 and Phase I of Cuyahoga Community College's new Westshore Campus nearing completion. Work continues
on Hospice House West and the relocation of a portion of Clemens Road. University Hospitals has announced a $100 million dollar renovation of St. John Medical Center.
With the passage of an $84 million levy by the voters of Westlake in 2010, the Westlake City Schools broke ground in 2011 on a new 230,000 square foot high school and a new 100,000 square foot middle school. The old middle school will be renovated into
an intermediate school in 2012. Also planned are new and renovated elementary schools.
Today Westlake continues to be a prestigious destination point for individuals as well as corporations. It is a special mix of open space and show-stopping homes, trees and office buildings, industry and community facilities. Once a premier farming settlement, it is now a thriving suburban community.
As Westlake’s bicentennial approached, our Clerk of Council, Denise L. Rosenbaum, thought a fitting contribution on behalf of City Council would be a compilation of those who served on Council. The project later expanded to include clerks, trustees and mayors.
The final product, this list of government officials of Dover ~ Westlake, Ohio, 1811-2011, is the culmination of her many hours of detailed research over the course of more than 18 months beginning in February of 2010.
It involved phone calls, emails, Internet searches, trips to various libraries, historical societies and archives both local and county, and paging through records including Dover township trustee books, Dover ~ Westlake Village and City Council minutes and ordinances, and the Westlake City Charter.
Ms. Rosenbaum also consulted county election result abstracts and ballot page scrapbooks, official bonds and oaths, newspaper archives, plat maps, history books, census records, and rosters of township and municipal officers. Some unlikely sources included accounting and road dedication ledgers, cemetery and property deeds, and chattel mortgages.
As she found information and recognized patterns, the layout of the list underwent many revisions so that it flowed logically, accurately and aesthetically and showed the changes in the structure of Dover ~ Westlake’s government through the years.
While great care was taken to record accurate information, some discrepancies, spelling variations and unintentional omissions are inevitable due to the fact that, unfortunately, some records no longer exist or were not located during this project.
Additionally, when original records differed from previously published information, the originals took precedence, and adjustments are reflected herein. It also must be noted that there were many other individuals who served in capacities not listed who are no less worthy of remembrance for their services throughout the last 200 years.
Ms. Rosenbaum is truly grateful for the assistance of co-workers, colleagues, local historians and the staff at the various facilities who helped her gather and confirm the information.
Special thanks to the employees of the Westlake service department sign shop, whose expertise designed the cover of this booklet and brought to reality the beautiful and impressive granite plaque displaying this identical list and mounted in the rotunda of Westlake City Hall for all to enjoy.
Researching this project was intriguing, captivating and extremely gratifying for Ms. Rosenbaum. She considered it a privilege to have had the opportunity to compile this information both to commemorate current government officials and their predecessors and to document an essential heritage of the history of Dover ~ Westlake, Ohio.
Michael F. Killeen
Westlake City Council President
November 3, 2011
All are encouraged to visit Westlake City Hall during normal business hours to view the plaque. A copy of the booklet is available upon request, while supplies last.
The Westlake Porter Library website houses an extensive Westlake Historical Image Collection. To access, click here.