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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 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 2017:

January 25, 2017, 7:00 PM            Last Stop Willoughby, from the TV program
                                                    Twilight Zone.

March 22, 2017, 7:00 PM               John Lillich will present his program on the
History of Dodd’s Mills, the Dodd family and the
                                                                 HACH-OTIS WILDLIFE SANCTUARY.

May 24, 2017, 7:00 PM                  Lake County Historical Society's Program
                                                    Director, Tonya Busic, will Present
                                                    "Mansions and Scandals". 
September 27, 2017, 7:00 PM        TBA. 

DID YOU KNOW?   Posted 3-18-2017

 GONE?   By Mel Schaefer and Shirley Anspach.

With the passing of Mrs. Abel Nash in December of last year, we were again reminded of how Willoughby Hills is changing.  Connie Nash was the last of a generation of local fruit growing families.

Fifty years ago Chardon Road could have been called “Apple Alley”. Fruit Stands and apple orchards were evident from the Euclid boundary into Kirtland and Chardon.  Beginning at the West boundary of Willoughby Hills, the White Fruit Farm and Nutwood Farms were located at the present site of  “The Shops of Willoughby Hills” (Loehmanns Plaza), may have been the first to surrender to the land developers. 

Next to fall was the Sorter’s Fruit Farm located on the NE corner of Chardon and Bishop. It is now the site of the newly remodeled BP station. News-Herald columnist, Bob Murphy, has often reminisced of his days working there as a teenager. Many young people found summer jobs on the farms and orchards of Willoughby Hills. 

Continuing East on Chardon Road we recall the Wolf Fruit Stand and the Burnett Stand across the street. Mildred Burnett was the sister of Elmer Wolf. Many of the founding families of this area were related. The Burnett property was subdivided into what is now Lamplight Lane. ‘”For Sale” signs are now posted on the Wolf property at Chardon & Rockefeller. 

On the south side of Chardon Road as we drop into the Chagrin River Valley we come to the farms of brothers, Harold and Merle Covert. This land is now posted “For Sale.  

The only remaining commercial orchard in our City today is the Riggin Farm.  This Farm was originally located on Chardon Road.  The farm has not moved but the road did move.  Fifty years ago a high bridge was built to replace the steel bridge over the Chagrin River.  The bypassed section of Chardon Rd was re-named Pleasant Valley Road.  The Riggin family continues to tend the family orchards.  Evans tells us that he recently cut down a 100 year-old Northern Spy apple tree that had been grafted by his great grandfather.  

Crossing the line into Kirtland, was the Jack Horner Fruit Stand.  Coincidentally, with thepassing of Jack Horner many years ago, this stand was moved to become the first implement storage shed for the Willoughby Hills Methodist Church on Eddy Road.

There are many other fruit growers we could mention, not the least of which would be the Brichford family on Maple Grove Road.  Shirley Anspach, is the co-author of this article and a member of this founding family.  When Gerald Ford was President, Shirley’s brother, Harold (Bud) Brichford, Mayor of Willoughby, and Mel Schaefer, Mayor of Willoughby Hills, visited President Ford and presented him with a basket of local apples to hi-light the importance of apples to our area.

What can we say about the Nash Farm on River Road?  In addition to the most photographed barn around, they grew, arguably, the best peaches on the planet.  We miss the peaches, Abel and Connie Nash, and I’m sure they are missed at the Maple Grove Grange.

Most family farms included at least a private orchard. The Schaefer home on Chardon Rd. is on the site of the original Little Farm.  Only a small non-producing apple orchard remains.  Since old apple orchards are favorite nesting places for the Eastern Bluebird, Jeannette will not allow these trees to be cut down.

Many changes have taken place since the City motto “Where the City Meets the Country” was adopted some 25 years ago.  City officials will continue to take a beating as the remaining parcels are sub-divided. We do not envy those who must deal with this unpopular form of progress.

May 2003, September 2003 Reflections Newsletter.  

Willoughby Hills Historical Society.  All rights reserved.