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Parents > United States > Ohio > Counties > Cuyahoga  
Established January 25, 1811
Disbanded Still Active
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifiedRP July 23, 2021 10:05pm
Description Eleven years into the twenty-first century, the City of Westlake will mark its 200th anniversary. Links to the city’s history have been preserved through the use of early settlers’ names on streets, parks, and buildings.

The JOSEPH CAHOON and ASHEL PORTER families were the first settlers at Township 7, Range 15, of the Connecticut Western Reserve, the area that was destined to become Dover Township and eventually the City of Westlake. The two families arrived just hours apart on October 10, 1810.

Dover Township was incorporated by the state legislature on January 25, 1811.

Other settlers who arrived from New England between 1810 and 1813 included James and Barnabas Hall, Philo Taylor, Joseph Stocking, Johnathan Smith, Dr. John Turner, Martha Hall Bassett and Daniel Page.

In April of 1812, eighteen voters met in Philo Taylor’s log cabin to form the first township government.
Later that year, a dozen members of the Lee Massachusetts Congressional Church arrived and founded the DOVER CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH. Today, that church community, along with about two dozen other churches, are a strong presence in Westlake

The area’s TOPOGRAPY includes two ridges and three stream valleys. The ridges mark the location of ancient shorelines of lakes that preceded Lake Erie. Originally, these ridges were known as North Ridge and Middle Ridge and were believed to have been Indian Trails. Later they were the first roads through this densely wooded area and are now known as Detroit Road and Center Ridge Road.

The stream valleys have creeks that flow in a generally northern direction to Lake Erie. The creeks’ waterpower was harnessed to run the sawmills and gristmills.

The FIRST GRISTMILL was built in 1813 by the Cahoon family, which settled on property just east of what is now Cahoon Creek. They also built a sawmill and distillery for making peach brandy. The abundance of timber prompted the establishment of other sawmills and asheries, which drained burnt wood of lye and boiled it into potash. The dense forests that covered the mostly level land, which gently sloped toward Lake Erie, were cleared to plant crops and provide pasture to raise horses, cattle and sheep.

AGRICULTURE grew in Dover with truck and fruit farming, especially grapes. Near the latter part of the nineteenth century, Dover was the second largest shipping point for grapes in the United States.

When it was established, Dover Township was geographically much larger than present day Westlake. It encompassed land to the north and to the south. Shortly before Dover Township marked the end of its first century, the area to the north (now Bay Village) and the area to the south (North Olmsted) separated from Dover, becoming independent municipalities.

After satisfying the legal requirements, the remaining 15.9 square miles of DOVER TOWNSHIP WAS INCORPORATED AS DOVER VILLAGE IN 1911. Procedures to incorporate as a village were initiated because Dover residents were concerned that a township form of government was inherently unstable.

The GEOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL CENTER OF DOVER’S ACTIVITY was in the area that is now the intersection of Dover Center and Center Ridge Roads. As early as the 1830’s this area housed the largest industrial concern between Elyria and Cleveland. The Dover Blast Furnace utilized the "bog ore" found on the surface of the ground north of Center Ridge Road for the making of pig iron. It operated for nearly 15 years until the raw material was depleted and the building was destroyed by fire in 1844.

By 1900 the POPULATION of Dover had grown to 2233. After the areas to the north and south separated, the 1910 census recorded a little over 1550 people. But in 1930 population figures recorded a new high of 2420, which marked the beginning of a steady rise that continues to this day.

THE FIRST SCHOOL, a small log cabin, was built six years after the first settlers arrived. As population increased the school district created sub-districts, each served by a one-room school where one teacher taught all the grades, up to eighth grade. At one time there were nine of the one-room schools.

In 1845, Dover resident John Wilson established a private academy to provide advanced education. It was located on Dover Center Road, on the site of Burneson Middle School’s parking lot. Unable to compete with free public education, Dover Academy was abandoned in 1862. But it was not until 1898 that Dover Public High School was established. Seven students graduated in the first class in 1901.

Voters approved construction of the FIRST CENTRAL SCHOOL BUILDING, which opened in 1909. The four-room brick building, used as the high school, had four rooms added to the rear in 1918. When the high school outgrew that facility, known today as the old Red Brick, a new high school was built and dedicated in 1923. At that time Dover became a centralized school district, abandoning the sub-district system. Grade school classes were held in the Red Brick.

Today the Westlake School District has four elementary schools, an intermediate school (fifth and sixth grades), a middle school (seventh and eighth grades) and a high school. The Red Brick currently houses the district’s administration offices.

A site for the VILLAGE’S FIRST PARK was donated. Walter and Sophronia Clague, children of Robert Clague, who came to Dover in 1829, turned over the 78 acres on Clague Road to Dover, in 1926. The two-story, brick home built in 1876 by the Clague family now is the home of the Westlake Historical Society.

It wasn’t until 1940 that DOVER VILLAGE CHANGED ITS NAME TO WESTLAKE. But as early as 1915, the United States Post Office exerted pressure on Dover to change its name to avoid confusion with a community in Ohio’s Tuscarawas County that carried the same name.

Westlake was part of the population shift that led to the rapid growth of suburbs following World War II. In 1950, the population of Westlake neared 5000, doubling the 1900 figure. IN 1957, WESTLAKE BECAME A CITY. The 1960 census recorded 13,000 residents for the young city. This phenomenal growth rate motivated city leaders to develop plans to shape the city’s future development.

In the early 1960’s, the CITY’S FIRST GUIDE PLAN and MUNICIPAL ZONING ORDINANCES were enacted. These plans restricted industrial zoning to the northern parts of the city and set aside areas along the principal streets for commercial activity and multi-family development.

Continued growth during the 1960’s and 1970’s introduced to the city, its first winding subdivisions as well as its first office park, King James. In 1976, the completion of Interstate 90 linked Westlake with downtown Cleveland.

BY 1980 THE CITY’S POPULATION WAS WELL OVER 19,000. The completion of Crocker Road to Center Ridge Road and the development of Ranney Parkway as an industrial and office area took place in the early 1980’s.

After five years of planning and two years of construction, St. John Westshore Hospital opened in 1981. Westlake Porter Public Library and the United States Post Office opened new facilities in the 1980’s.

In the early 1990’s, a new police station and two new fire stations were constructed. The city acquired a golf course and land for a nature park on the city’s west side. The Promenade of Westlake opened offering wider shopping choices to the city.

In the fall of 1998, the carefully planned Westlake Recreation Center opened on an 85-acre park site. The final year of the twentieth century will see the ground-breaking for a new city hall and an addition to Porter Public Library.

Almost 200 years after the first settlers saw fit to live, work and create a government here, Westlake continues to be a highly desirable location for families, individuals, businesses and corporations. This Tree City USA, with a population over 30,000, has a special mix of open space, fine homes, office buildings, industry and community facilities.

Westlake is indeed a city with a proud history, a strong presence, and an inviting future.


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