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Willoughby Hills Historical Society, Inc.

Historical IndianThe Mission of the Willoughby Hills Historical Society is to discover and preserve the historic resources of Willoughby Hills and Willoughby Township, and to encourage a preservation ethic in our community.

The Willoughby Hills Historical Society was founded in March of 1988 and was certified as a Not-For-Profit Corporation on May 23, 1988.

It collects, preserves and displays or otherwise provides for study as far as may be feasible of printed material, photographs, and material objects illustrative of life, conditions, events and activities of the past.

The Society meets on the fourth Wednesday of the odd numbered months (except July) in the lower level of the Community Building in the "Historical Society Room" and our newsletter, REFLECTIONS, listing our program for the meeting, is sent to our members the week before the meeting.

Individual memberships are $5/yr. or $100 for life membership.  Family memberships are $7.50/yr. or $150 for life membership.  Click here for membership application.

For more information or a membership application, contact Frank or Mary Cihula at
(440) 946-5557 or e‑mail at whhs-oh@att.net.

Meeting/Program Schedule for 2018:

January 24, 2018, 7:00 PM         LCHS; Women Spies, Revol. War to World Wars.
March 28, 2018, 7:00 PM            Taverns of Lake County by Vince Wilson, LCHS.

May 23, 2018, 7:00 PM               Our Not-for-Profit Incorporation prohibits
                                                     involvement in political activities.
                                                     Due to the Political Climate that the Community
                                                     Building has been operating under,
                                                     our Trustee’s have decided to CANCEL our
                                                     May 23, 2018 Historical Society meeting.

 September 26, 2018, 7:00 PM   Dr. Taddeo; FOR THE GLORY OF GOD - IN GLASS.
                                                     Tracing this historic medium through its
                                                     various periods.
  The story of leaded & faceted
                                                     glass windows.  
Over 100 images will be shown.

DID YOU KNOW?  (posted; 9-12-18)


            The southern portion of Willoughby Township received its fire protection from the Township Fire Station located on Euclid Avenue in what is now Wickliffe at its eastern border with the city of Willoughby.  It was a two-car garage which has since been torn down. (we have a photo of it)  The route which the fire trucks had to take to get to the southern portion of the township was down S.O.M. Center Road with its steep grade through the ravine where IS-90 now passes.  Response time was not very good.

            In 1946, a group of citizens petitioned the Township Trustees to provide a fire station in this area.  The Trustees offered fire apparatus only if the group would provide a fire station and firefighter personnel.  The Garfield Firemen’s Association was formed in the spring of 1947.  This portion of the township was the area served by the James A. Garfield Elementary School.  Hence the name Garfield.  The founding group consisted of George Granger, John Hitchcock, Gale Kennelly, Victor Leo, Robert Lillich, Elton Linsday, Robert McKay, William Meyers, Gustave Riss, Charles Schumacher, Carl Selig, Donald Stark, Joseph Sturm and Melvin Sweetapple.  They elected Gale Kennelly as Chief and officers Leo, Meyers, Schumacher, Selig and Sweetapple.

            A lot at 2768 Stark Drive, owned by John Stark, was donated.  Ensuing litigation cost $4000.  A fundraising campaign was begun.  Citizens and members contributed money, materials and labor toward building the fire station.  The Trustees loaned a 1936 open cab Chevrolet pumper which was housed in Schumacher’s garage next to his hardware store.  A two-bay station with a small meeting room was constructed entirely with donated funds and volunteer labor.  It was completed in 1948 and the trustees provided a new 500 g. p. m. Champion pumper on a Ford Chassis.  Its cost was $12,000.

            Fire and rescue calls rang in the homes of Eleanor Kennelly, Billie Rowles and Shirley Schumacher.  They relayed the calls to other firemen whose wives then continued the relay to the other firemen.

            The fire department was volunteers, but they received $2.00 for emergency calls and $1.50 for drills.

            Their ladies auxiliary, the Sparks, conducted dances, carnivals and shows to raise money for boots, helmets, gloves and special tools that the trustees could not afford.  The Sparks later became the Yellow Birds and continued to raise funds into the mid nineteen seventies to purchase special items.

            In 1958, the president of the Garfield Firemen’s Assoc. sent a letter dated June 25, 1958 to the “Honorable Mayor and Council” advising that the members present at a meeting on June 23, 1958 “voted to donate the Stark Drive Fire Station to the Village with deed restrictions to the effect that it should be used as a fire station only.  As soon as these deed restrictions are properly established, the deed will be presented to the Village.”


The above information was taken from a Fire Department booklet presented to the City in December 1993 by Chief William Heckler and from a booklet titled “THE HISTORY OF THE WILLOUGHBY HILLS FIRE DEPARTMENT 50 YEARS OF PRIDE AND COMMITMENT 1947-1997” provided by Chief Walter A. Knapp with acknowledgements to Steve and Diane Nash for their help in its preparation.

By Frank J. Cihula, Willoughby Hills Historical Society 2009   All rights reserved.