Clubs and Organizations


By Mrs. Clyde H. Butler

Every generation has its prophet--a voice calling in the wilderness for men to repent their evil ways and return to the good old days of their forefathers. Such was the plea in 1858 of J. D. Taylor, an early resident of Lakewood, then called East Rockport, who bemoaned the fact that "The new plank road on Detroit, with its infernal huts where liquor is sold is worse than the path frequented by bears and wolves in the old days." He urged the women of the community to rise up and condemn them.

Mr. Taylor seemed unaware that taverns on the main road from the east in the early 1800s had much less to commend them than taverns of the period he deplored. Let's peek into the diary of a young miss who traveled to Ohio from Massachusetts in the year 1810.

"Last night we expected to get good beds, but we were never so disappointed. We were put in an old garret that had holes in the roof, big enough to put a hand through. Our bed was on the floor, harder it appeared to me, than boards could be and dirty as possible, a dirty feather bed our only covering.

"We set out in the rain on Monday and came on 13 miles to a hut with a sign up calling it a tavern, and such a place--it had only one room in it. Our bed was made of straw, the pillow case had been on five or six years I reckon so I pin'd over my handkerchief."

Another notation says, "We are in a log tavern filled with half drunken noisy waggoners. One of them lies singing directly before the fire. I can neither think nor write he makes so much noise with his Love songs."

Price French another early resident who started west in 1818 told about putting up at an inn after a day's journey through driving rain. Their own bedding was dried by the fire and spread on the floor where the whole family camped for the night, warming themselves with plenty of whiskey and ale supplied by the tavern to supplement the meager food they had carried with them. On another occasion he slept in a room with several occupants, all strangers to him. When he awoke next morning he discovered he had been robbed of all his money ($25), which he had placed carefully for safe keeping under his pillow.

Taverns Thrived

From 1850, taverns in Lakewood were thriving; new ones springing up with mushroom rapidity overnight. They were born at first of necessity as stopping places for weary farmers who carried truckloads of produce to Cleveland markets--places where one could rest and get a refreshing drink of homemade ale. Water was in ill repute; a current rumor claiming it caused ague and even the dread disease typhoid.

Most renowned of the old taverns was Silverthorn's where the Westlake hotel now stands. Rufus Wright and his family made it famous for chicken dinners and French fried potatoes.

Knoll's beer garden, dance hall and picnic ground at Clifton Park was so well conducted; it became a resort for Sunday school picnics.

Ingleside Cottage on Detroit and Hopkins and the Melrose House near Thoreau were also noted for their respectability, the latter attracting school children because of huge jars of stick candy sold at the bar.

Cliff House, later called Murch House, at the western end of the Dummy railroad, (the west side's rapid transit of the 1870's), attracted a great variety of patronage and provided passengers for the railroad. The first floor had a bar and many guest chambers. A dining room on the second floor and a huge ballroom on the third floor were in constant demand. A verandah around the house afforded an excellent view of Clifton Park and the lake.

Most Select Place

Martinetz, on Madison near Belle, was run by a Swiss of that name who excelled in making Wines in the old manner. It was the most select place to get good food and fine wine. So popular did his place become that he too was very choice about his customers and they say one almost needed an engraved invitation to get within the gates.

Grant House, a very popular tavern and post house stood on the site of Lakewood hospital. It was well known that Mars Wagar sold the land on which it stood for two oxen since it was on the edge of a gully and considered worthless for farming.

On the northeast corner of Belle and Detroit opposite Grant House was a small tavern called the Old Mansion House. It was an ordinary tavern, which could hardly compete with the loftier house across the street, and within a short time deteriorated into a tenement. Eventually Mr. Laurence Johnson, general storekeeper and postmaster purchased the site for a family residence. He moved the old house to 1341 Belle near the railroad, where it still stands, peacefully set back from the street in a sheltered nook as a two-family home. The narrow brick path, the shrubbery and birdbath, the homey twin porches would little indicate it had housed rollicking imbibers many years ago.

The interior of two five-room suites shows a lack of architectural planning, as if many untrained hands had put it together. The ceilings are low; the rooms very irregular in shape, the stairways very steep and made of wide rough planks. Rough-hewn beams with bark still attached may be seen in the basement rafters.

In spite of its many architectural defects, the Mansion House has withstood the test of time, the only surviving tavern of the old plank road days.


(In the newly formed Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland) at the November term, 1810, an indictment was presented against one Daniel Miner, for "not having obtained such license or permit as the law directs to keep a tavern, or to sell, barter or deliver, for money or other article of value, any wine, rum, brandy, whisky, spirits or strong drink by less quantity less than one quart, did, with intent to defraud the revenue of the county, on the 25th of October last past, sell, barter and deliver at Cleveland aforesaid, wine, rum, brandy, whisky and spirits by less quantity than one quart, to-wit; one gill of whisky for the sum of six cents in money, contrary to the statute, etc." To this a plea of guilty was entered, and was followed by a fine of twenty-five cents. Another indictment against the same person was to the effect that with "men and horses, with force and arms, ferry over Rocky River," without a license, and for this offense he was fined five dollars and a bill for costs.



The first recorded license to keep a tavern in Rockport Township was issued to Daniel Miner by the Common Pleas Court of Cuyahoga County in March 1811, and was renewed in 1812. A license to run a ferry was also granted to him. His tavern was a log cabin, eighteen by twenty-four feet, on the east side of Rocky River near the present Detroit Avenue Bridge. Daniel Miner died in 1813, at which time Moses Eldred came to Rockport and kept the tavern for a brief period. Later, Mrs. Miner took it over and kept it for a number of years.

Clark and James had a tavern on the west side of the river from 1816 to 1820.

In 1816, Rufus Wright paid Gideon Granger three hundred dollars for three-fourths of an acre of land on the west bank of Rocky River, where the Westlake Hotel now stands. He erected a large frame tavern, which was conducted by the Wright family until 1853, when it was taken over by Mr. Jacob Silverthorn. It was operated by the Silverthorns for a number of years. It then was bought by the Patchen family, who remodeled and improved it, naming it the Patchen House. A part of the old tavern was moved and used by the widow of John Williams as a residence.

Some years later this tavern was again taken over by the Silverthorns, under whose management it became well known to the people of Cleveland. It was a popular Sunday pastime of those days to drive out to Silverthorn's for a chicken dinner. It is said that Silverthorns were famous for their French fried potatoes. The tavern was operated until it was torn down to make way for the Westlake Hotel.

John Knoll operated beer garden, dance hall and picnic grounds at Clifton Park beach. This must have been a well conducted amusement resort in early days, for it was there that the Sunday School picnics were held, and all the people for miles around frequented it.

A small boat ran between the Cuyahoga River and Rocky River, bringing picnic parties to Clifton Beach from Cleveland.

Ingleside Cottage was one of the early taverns. It stood on Detroit Avenue where Hopkins Avenue is now, and was a low rambling building, one part of which was a log house. The large public room was twenty by thirty feet. A man by the name of Kelso, and later a man called Greenhall, kept the place until it was bought in 1876 by Thomas Henry and remodeled into a family residence. The name of Ingleside Cottage was retained as the name of the stop on the Dummy railroad after the house was no longer open to the public. The Henry Family lived there until 1912, when the house was torn down to make way for a business block.

George Saal kept an old-fashioned German roadhouse and tavern called Melrose House, on Detroit Avenue where Thoreau Road now is. It was conducted in a very orderly and respectable manner. Behind the bar were glass jars filled with sticks of candy which were sold to schoolchildren.

This tavern burned and was rebuilt. A Mr. Penny operated it for a time, and then the Reverend Mr. Ricker and his daughter, Tiny Ricker, took over the place and turned it into a school for little girls. Later, it again became a tavern operated by Charley Webber. It was sometimes called the Halfway House, and at one time it was advertised in Cleveland as the Frog House. This tavern burned down about 1896.

The Grant House at Detroit and Belle Avenues was built where the Lakewood Hospital now stands. This was a well known tavern and post house. It is reported that Mars Wagar sold the tavern site for two oxen, as the land was on the side of a little gully not suitable for farming. At one time it was known as Kidney Tavern. I. Kidney, whose wife and daughter were both buried in the old Wagar cemetery, owned it. In later years as Detroit Avenue was leveled, the old Grant House was left high in the air. As automobiles and trucks took the place of the horse drawn wagons the tavern was no longer needed, and it passed into private hands and was later torn down.

Across the street from the Grant House on the northeast corner of Belle and Detroit Avenues was the old Mansion House. At one time a man named Bennett kept this. For a short time it was made into and used as a regular tenement house. After years of use as a tavern this property was bought by Mr. Lawrence Johnson, who at that time had the general store and post office on the other corner, and who wished to build a residence for his family on the site of this old tavern. He had the Mansion House moved to a lot on Belle Avenue near the railroad track and made into the two-family house now standing at 1341 and 1343 Belle Avenue.

The Reiber House, a tavern operating until a more recent period, still stands at Detroit and Park Row, and is now occupied by the Cole Nursery Company.

At Riverside and Detroit Avenues were two old taverns: The Krauss House, a tavern and summer garden on the northwest corner, with its large sheds for the horses and wagons; and Hahn's Tavern on the southwest corner, a more modern building which later, in 1903 or 1904, was used by the village of Lakewood for its town hall.

The Cliff House was at the western end of the Dummy railroad. It stood about where Riverside Avenue now runs into Edanola Avenue, and was owned by the Dummy Railroad Company. This tavern was built with the idea of attracting parties from Cleveland, thus providing additional passengers for the railroad. There was a bar on the first floor and many guest chambers on the west side. The dining room was on the second floor and an unusually beautiful ballroom and a few guest chambers were on the third floor. It had a large hall, and a verandah extended around the entire house.

On the lawn were beautiful fountains, and a picnic grove extended from the Cliff House to the lake, embracing much of the territory, which we now know as Clifton Park. Ezra Nicholson, one of the promoters of the railroad owned this picnic grove at that time, and he offered to give the grove with its Fine beach to the city of Cleveland for a public park. The newspapers of that day record the ridicule, which was showered upon Mr. Nicholson's proposition. It was referred to as "Nicholson's Folly."

At one time, as an added attraction, two buffaloes were confined in a small enclosure near the Cliff House; and many children were taken to see them.

Cliff House was later taken over by Joe Murch, who called it the Murch House. It is told that he had a special wagon ornamented with mirrors with the name "Murch House" on each side. This wagon was driven into Cleveland every day to fetch supplies for the hotel. There were many balls and parties given in this house, not only in the summer time, but also in the winter. One time a home talent play was given there.

Some of those who operated this house were Charley Webber, John Jones, A.T. Van Tassell, James Starkweather and William Hall. The tavern finally burned down in the eighties and was never rebuilt.

On the points below Cliff House there were several roadhouses which had a bad reputation for gambling. Two of them were called Baff House and Dubber House.

Mr. B. Martinetz came to this country from Switzerland where he had trained as a gardener.

With his wife, and adopted daughter of John Knoll who kept Knoll's Tavern, he bought a large vineyard on Madison Avenue, east of Belle Avenue, and made wine from the grapes in the

Swiss manner.

In a very short time his wines were well known in Cleveland, and many customers drove out to Martinetz's for their private supply. Mrs. Martinetz was called upon to serve lunches to these guests. Special dinners followed, and Martinetz's soon became a famous tavern. It was never a public restaurant, but kept to the policy of serving dinners only on special order. Mr. Martinetz was very particular about the people who patronized his place, and it was almost necessary for one to be especially introduced by someone who was in his good graces to gain admission. Mr. Martinetz had large wrought iron gates made and placed at the entrance, and these gates were always locked at eleven o'clock. When the property was allotted, Martinetz's passed into history.


The first taverns of the west were built mostly of logs, though a few, as noted, were of stone. They were ordinary wilderness cabins, rendered professionally hospitable by stress of circumstance. They were more often of but one or two rooms, where, before the fireplace, guests were glad to sleep together upon the puncheon floor. The fare afforded was such as hunters had--game from the surrounding forest and neighboring streams and the product of the little clearing, potatoes and the common cereals.

The fireplaces in the first western taverns were notably generous, as the rigorous winters of the Alleghenies required. Many of these fireplaces were seven feet in length and nearly as high, capable of holding, had it been necessary, a wagon load of wood. With a great fireplace at the end of the room, lighting up its darkest corners as no candle could, the taverns along the National Road, where the stages stopped for the night, saw merrier scenes than any of their modern counterparts witness. And over all their merry gatherings the flames from the great fires threw a softened light, in which those who remember them best seem to bask as they tell of them to us. The taverns near some of the larger villages, Wheeling, Washington or Uniontown, often entertained for a winter's evening, a sleighing party from town, to whom the great room and its fireplace was surrendered for the nonce, where soon lisping footsteps and the soft swirl of old fashioned skirts told that the dance was on.

Beside the old fireplace hung two important articles, the flip-iron and the poker. The poker used in the old road taverns was of a size commensurate with the fireplace, often being seven or eight feet long. Each landlord was Keeper-of-the-Poker in his own tavern, and many were particular that none but themselves should touch the great fire, which was one of the main features of their hospitality, after the quality of the food and drink. Eccentric old "Boss" Rush in his famous tavern near Smithfield (Great Crossings) even kept his poker under lock and key.



LAKEWOOD PRESS March 7, 1918, Pg. 21

Believing that the residents of Lakewood and the West Side would patronize a first class hotel and restaurant, and believing that the traveling public demanded such a place, Mr. Charles Levinson some time ago took charge of the Plaza Hotel and restaurant at 18622 Detroit Avenue, and that his conduct of this popular place has proved a success is attested by the large patronage he enjoys.

The Plaza contains fifteen large, airy, modern rooms, has rest rooms downstairs for the accommodation of ladies as well as office for those who desire to make this their headquarters. The dining room is large, clean and reflects credit on the management.

One of the features of this hotel is the prompt manner in which guests are served in the dining room, the quality of the food served and the very moderate prices charged. The West Side is fortunate in having such a place for those who need hotel accommodations.



LAKEWOOD PRESS July 25, 1918 Pg. 21

A four-hundred room hotel on the lakefront is planned by David Olmsted of the Hotel Olmsted, just as soon as the war is over and financial conditions will permit its erection. It will be a family hotel and, according to Mr. Olmsted, it will be located on the lakefront "between Edgewater Park and Rocky River."

Without disclosing prematurely the plans in question, there is no question but that the hotel will be located in Lakewood.


MISS ANSLEY'S NOTE BOOK (An interview with Arthur Hall)

Where the hospital now stands. One night pioneers coming from Duchess county N.Y. sighted lights…spent the night and next morning traded oxen and wagon for the tavern. The previous owner left for Australia or New Zealand. New owner of tavern nearly died of typhoid fever. An Indian squaw from a settlement of Indians in R. R. Valley wrapped him in a blanket, soused him in river. He got well and lived a long time.


ANNALS OF CLEVELAND - Vol. 59 - #5349 5349 - L Sept. 2:7/2 (Newspaper Digest, 1821)

The third annual reunion of the 1st regiment, Ohio Light artillery, was held at the Cliff House, Rocky River, yesterday. Representatives of batteries A, B, C, D, E, G, H, and I were present, in all 40 men. After the election of officers, dinner was served, and the meeting was adjourned. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in talking over old times.

The reunion this year was not as well attended as usual, and very little interest was manifested.


MISS ANSLEY'S NOTE BOOK (An interview with Arthur Hall)

1870 - 1880 Cliff House at end of Edanola, burned in 1882. Very tough place - known all over country - dummy car line went from Cleveland to Rocky River - Saturdays and Sunday - debris - Rope walker across Rocky River.


MISS ANSLEY'S NOTE BOOK (An interview with Arthur Hall)

Near Brockley and Cranford.

Had a mill at R.R. on left side of bridge - 1840. It burned, was rebuilt, and burned again. Old mill wheels were made in France. One now in Hall yard.

Gov. Reuben Wood, of Ohio, 1859 -- old fashioned gentleman's estate.

George B. Merwin, his son-in-law, lived next door.