The City becomes a City and
The school board started 1966 with a demographic dilemma: junior high school students outnumbered high school students. A decision had to be made and the choices were as follows: to build a new building just for the junior high school children or to put another addition onto the high school. The decision was made to build a separate building and the chosen location for construction was the current junior high location, just northwest of Richmond Rd. and Shaker Blvd. Alex Truehauft, a well-known developer, then owned the property. While the school board wanted the building located on the property, Truehauft was reluctant to sell his property, which he envisioned for apartments, and instead suggested that the new schoolhouse be built next to Fairmount School. This move would have allowed no space for future growth. After considerable time, effort and the negotiating power of Sherman Hollander, Fred Isenstadt, and architect Phil Hart, the school board convinced Truehauft to sell his property. By May 3rd of the following year a bond issue would be passed to raise $385,000.00 to cover land acquisition costs and the completion of projects at two elementary schools: construction of a driveway out to Letchworth and additional classrooms at Hilltop. 1970 finally heralded the climactic opening of the middle school. It should be noted that by 1970, the "in" term for junior high schools was "Middle School". At that time each of Beachwood’s three elementary schools educated kindergarten through fifth grade with sixth, seventh and eighth graders using the new Middle School. In 1980, with a declining enrollment there was a change made that put all kindergartners at Fairmount, first through third graders at Bryden and fourth through sixth graders at Hilltop. The seventh and eighth graders utilized the Middle School. The enrollment change could be seen by comparing 1968’s enrollment at 2400 system wide to 1400 in 1980.
1966 Stanley Wertheim, Sherman Hollander, Margaret Lubin, Fred Isenstadt and Si Wachsberger in front of the High School looking over the various options for the location of the Middle School.
One of the features of the new middle school was its open classroom style. The rooms would open into groups or pods. Teachers and students were able to view other groups in the near distance attempting to teach and be taught at the same time. This new concept was a flop; too many factors were working against it. The building was new and Beachwood was not used to having a "Middle School." That in itself required adjustment. Another problem arose from the anxiety of those long-term teachers who did not want to be viewed by their peers. Others might say that the school board did not prepare the teachers for this new environment. Upset with the results, some parents sent their children to private schools and some moved from the community altogether. Walls were erected to convert the school into a traditional setting. Unfortunately, after the changes it took about ten years for the school to turn itself into a respectable stepping stone for future high school students.
While Beachwood Schools have had many great success stories, one must not forget the tragedy in September of 1970 when Arny Finke and Robert Jacobs, both 14 years young, were killed by a bolt of lightning as they came in from the football field after a practice. In 1971 a plaque was placed on a nearby rock at the field in memory of these two young men. They were to have graduated with the class of 1974.
In 1972, a new library and auditorium were added to the high school. The library is on the first floor under the seating area of the auditorium. Unlike typical auditoriums, that of Beachwood High School was designed as a half circle around the stage. In 1975, the high school also built a new gymnasium, "The South Gym," which was double the size of the original gym built in 1958, and included a track. The last addition to the school was the indoor pool, constructed in 1979.
Today, Beachwood Schools continue to cultivate excellence and are admired by many in the educational world. In fact, surveys show that Beachwood Schools are the number one drawing card for families moving into the community. When looking back on Beachwood school’s early development, one very special person stands out. Viola Colombi served this community with great pride and dedication shortly after her 1948 arrival in Beachwood. Only three years after Colombi and her husband, Dr. Christopher Colombi, moved to Beachwood, she became a member of the school board, which she continued to serve for the next ten years. Upheld as one of Beachwood’s finest citizens, she fought tirelessly to establish an excellent foundation for future generations. Some would wonder why a mother of three children who attended private schools would work so hard for a cause that seemingly excluded her. Clearly, this was a perfect example of her unselfish dedication to people. Columbi’s commitments went beyond Beachwood and were recognized by many of the organizations she that served, including The Cleveland Orchestra and The Cleveland Lyric Opera. When our world lost Viola Columbi in 1995, we lost a gem.
While the schools were developing in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, so was the residential community, through the efforts of various builders. Streets such as Letchworth, Bryden, Hendon and Annesley were among many development locations. Sam Freidman, who in 1967 was expected to build twenty-five homes in Beachwood, extended his construction to the Fairmount Parks Estates on Tunbridge, Maidstone and Biscayne, which included the $44,500 home at 25463 Maidstone. The home was designed as a "splanch": a ranch home with steps that led down to a family room and steps that led up to the bedrooms. Freidman also built homes on Allen Drive, a street built in 1964 that runs south off of North Woodland Rd. The land was owned by Mrs. Marie Mason, whose farm house still stands on the east corner of North Woodland Rd. and Allen Dr. S. Lee Korman was a partner in the development of that street with Mrs. Mason.
Another street that was developed in 1965 was Havel Dr. Since 1925 this road had been on the maps as part of the Van Sweringens’ Shaker Country Estates. The road had originally been called Hermitage Ln. The original plan called for it to exit onto Bryden Rd. and meet the existing Hermitage Ln. In 1966, when long-time Police Chief John Havel entered into retirement, the street developers just getting ready to officially dedicate the street decided to change the name to Havel Drive. One of the other changes the developer made was to create a cul-de-sac instead of allowing the road to extend to Bryden Rd.
In November of 1966, Beachwood voters had three issues on the ballot. All failed! The first two were to change the term of mayor and councilmen from two years to four. However, these two issues were passed when voted on in November of 1972. The third issue seems to be an ever-present subject of debate in the arena of residential development: the installation of street lights on all "side" streets. The vote then was 1276 for lights and 1657 against.
Sidewalks were once again a topic of discussion in 1967 as they had been in the late 50’s when the issue first arose. Bryden Rd., of course, had no sidewalks, and a recent court ruling had already forced many Bryden school children to walk to school. Apparently, the Board of Education was charging a fee for students to ride the bus to school. The courts ruled that they could not charge for bus service. This action caused the Board of Education to drop many routes, forcing students to walk to school. Because Bryden Road was a narrow old road with culverts, the city was persuaded to install sidewalks and was planning to charge the cost to the homeowners. This, like many Beachwood efforts, ended up in court. The issue at hand was, that if sidewalks were put in, the road should also be replaced, and each home would be levied an expense of $5000. The final outcome was that no sidewalks were built. Several years later in 1971, Bryden would once again be the concern of the planning commission. There was a desire to move the road so that it would exit Richmond Rd. as it now does. Originally Bryden Road exited just a few feet north of Chagrin Blvd. This change did not occur until the mid 1980’s.
There were many presentations made to the City Councilmen October of 1967 to construct apartment buildings. One of the proposals that never happened came from Frank Mavic, who was the owner of most of the land on what is now Park East Drive, then known as Holiday Parkway. Mavic had planned to construct two apartment building at the southwest corner of Chagrin Blvd. and I-271. This complex would have included 540 suites, underground parking and tennis courts. The complex would have been on land where the Marriott is now located.
In 1969, the land on the West Side of Richmond Rd. between Letchworth and Bryden Rds. became a subject for heated discussions at City Hall. Ronald Moskowitz, a homebuilder known for constructing high quality homes, had acquired the land that was once Van Sweringen property. His first plan for the land (in 1969) was the construction of several four-story apartment buildings. Moskowitz presented plans for the construction of townhouses in 1973. This plan was also met with strong opposition from the neighborhood. Several compromises had to be made by both the developer and the city officials and in 1983 the city finally rezoned the land to permit the construction of Baywood Condominiums. The units were slow to sell and phase one was the only phase completed several years later, Willow Ln. was developed just west of Richmond Rd. running south off of Letchworth Rd. to utilize some of this land for residential homes. Another developer has purchased the middle section of land and townhouses known as Wedgewood Crossings have been constructed on part of that land.
In January of 1978, the residents of Twickenham, Penshurst, Greenwich Ln, Sittingbourne and Greenlawn Rds. protested Forest City’s plan to extend Twickenham Rd. to Richmond Rd. This would have been the final phase of Fairmount Park Estates. The residents who live on the protesting streets were concerned that Beachwood Place Mall, which was soon to open, would increase the traffic on their streets. While this concern was shared the by Council, the roadway was soon opened and homes were built. One might take note that when driving down Twickenham Rd. and Penshurst Rd., the roadway of the newer section is wider than the older section.
As the community grew so did the need for recreational amenities - a need, which largely fell on the shoulders of Beachwood resident Raymond Warner, who served as the part-time recreation director from 1964 to 1969. Warner was a teacher and the principal of Wiley Jr. High in University Heights. In 1969 that responsibility was assumed by long time Beachwood resident Jim Cowan, the son of Leslie and Connie Cowan. When Jim was a youngster growing up in Beachwood, he attended Beachwood’s Summer Day Camp, for which he later served as a counselor. As an educator, Jim was well qualified for the duties at hand. He grew up in the community and knew what needed to be done.
Two major recreation events happened between 1965 and 1980: Beachwood built its own swimming pool, and baseball became a competitive sport for boys and girls.
By 1965, Beachwood had a swimming program, but had no pool. Beachwood would rent time at the Eastgate Coliseum at Mayfield Rd and Route 91 or at Beechmont Country Club. According to former Mayor Harvey Friedman, "The people simply demanded a pool and we gave them one." Friedman said there were higher priorities but he wanted the citizens to be content. A study was done by the Regional Planning Commission in 1964 reviewing all of Beachwood’s recreational needs. For the most part, the conclusions were fairly close to what Beachwood has today. The commission issued two major recommendations: one was to provide a play area for those living in the Beacon and Concord Rds. area. This did not happen and that area continues to be isolated from any field or playground equipment to this day. The second recommendation endorsed the acquisition of land on Fairmount Blvd. between the Fairmount Elementary School and the Centenary Church. This land was owned by Albert Lavin and was the undeveloped portion of the Fairmount Park Estates.
Left To Right Councilman Ralph Bing, Councilman Ted Eichenbaum, Planning and Zoning Board member Armand Arnson, Mayor George Zeiger, Council President Harvey Friedman, newly elected Councilman Larry Small, and Stanley Gottsegen at the groundbreaking for the new outdoor pool.
About the time that these recommendations were being made, Meldon Rd resident and Attorney Alvin Krenzler conducted his own survey relative to the need for a swimming pool in Beachwood. Krenzler mailed post cards to every family inquiring whether or not they would be in favor of a community pool along with tennis courts and an artificial ice rink. Eighty percent of the twenty two hundred responses were "yes." Krenzler also felt that the owners and developers of the major residential and proposed commercial developments within Beachwood should help pay for the land. This group of developers led by Albert Lavin and Milton Wolf responded with an offer to donate 15 acres of land in a "yet to be defined" area within Beachwood. Because the Regional Planning Commission had recommended the Fairmount - Biscayne site, the city fathers wanted to stay with that plan. Forest City and Lavin were the principal owners of the land, along with a trust in the name of Paul Lipman. Appraised at $310,000.00 the final price paid for the land was $300,000.00 with $100,000.00 being donated by the developers through a trust. A key player in the development of the pool program and the chief overseer was Councilman Larry Small, who first joined the Council in 1968 and quickly involved himself in many recreational programs. From the day construction started on the pool until the day it was completed, Small made a visit to the construction site every morning at 7:30. According to Small the facility boasted the first stainless steel pool in northern Ohio and the second one in the state. The site ultimately became a 25-acre park. The pool was completed by mid-summer of 1969. On August 3 of 1969, Mayor Zeiger cut the ribbon and the pool was ready for its first swimmer. City Council expressed a special thank you to Krenzler for his efforts and in 1969 the Beachwood Civic League for his contributions to the community honored Krenzler. The first year the pool was open, over 1000 passes were issued. The pool today continues to be the place to go and cool off.
One of Beachwood’s best-kept secrets in the 1960’s and 1970’s was its Day Camp. It had been around since the 1950’s and continues today. Many of the campers, like Jim Cowan, would go on to become camp counselors. Over the years the camp would spin off other camps with specific themes, such as drama camp and sports camp.
Beachwood Day camp group in 1992 led by counselors Debbie November and Kim Saunders
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, when one talked sports in Beachwood, the subject was baseball, from softball to hard ball. The history of Beachwood’s softball program goes back to 1954 when Si Wachsberger and Manny Baden organized a team. Baden, the keeper of the equipment, never took a dime for his efforts and lined the fields with pride. The games were first played at Kangasser’s Field, which now consists of the northern portion of Brentwood Rd. In 1968 Baden was recognized at a season-end banquet and the ballfields at Fairmount School were named Baden Field. Today, a marker can be found under a tree indicating that one is standing at Baden Field.
First known in 1954 as the Beachwood REO team this 1956 photo was taken at Kangasser's Field with long time commander and chief of Beachwood Baseball, Manny Baden.
Mid 1950s Lower Diamond of Fairmount houses built on depford in the background.
Photo from Don Wachsberger.
There were many others that contributed to Beachwood’s baseball & softball programs Two of them that stand out were Larry Small and Leo Weiss. Small was known for many years as the "Father of the Pool" because he watched over its development. However, he was equally involved in baseball, for which he served as a coach and a manager. Small’s good friend, Leo Weiss, was also an advocate of the sport, and so acted as the commissioner of Beachwood’s baseball program and ultimately was elected as a member of the Beachwood City Council. Weiss served from January of 1979 until his death in 1989. Others that promoted these sports included Ed Fine and Elmer Kravitz. In October of 1973 Mayor George Zeiger decreed a proclamation honoring Fine and Kravitz.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s Julie Paris, who lived on Fairmount Blvd. set up a diamond in his back yard for the kids to play ball. Mark Kriwinsky remembers cars lining up in the Paris’ drive followed by a great migration to the playing field. Kriwinsky exemplified the Beachwood spirit in the 1960’s and 1970’s as he went from playing ball to coaching and managing teams in the 1980’s. Girl’s Softball started in 1968.
1988 Larry Small and Leo Weiss in council chambers
Electing a New Council
In November of 1965 there were seven Council seats up for grabs in Beachwood. By this time in Beachwood’s history, election to a Council that was starting to develop a cash flow was a desirous position. Four of the seven incumbents who ran were Harvey Freidman, Martin Rini, Harvey Starkoff and Stanley Weinberg. The remaining council members who did not seek re-election were Ed Cunneen, Arthur Marcus, and Vincent Hlavin. Hlavin, who had, along with his father, served the city for many decades in a variety of positions including mayor, was moving to Shaker Heights.
The eight new candidates were not new to Beachwood. Each of them had been involved in several Beachwood organizations. The three candidates that won were Ralph Bing, Ted Eichenbaum and Alan Krause. Those that ran but did not win included Michael Grosser, Lloyd Fingerhut, Howard Koles, Ronald Moskowitz and Larry Small, who did win two years later and continues to serve.
Others that served from 1966 to 1980 included Robert Wurtzman, who served for fifteen years. Stanley Gottsegen served for six years, Sheldon Berns served for seven years, Leo Weiss served for ten years, and Martin Arsham has served since 1972, along with Si Wachsberger who was elected in 1974 and continues to serve. Prior to being on Council, Wachsberger spent eighteen years on the school board. Finally, in 1980 Melvin Singer was elected and served for eight years. It would be this new team’s responsibility to lead and redirect, if needed, the development of the community.
A New City Hall
In 1965 the Council was enjoying a new chamber that had been constructed in 1961. This two-story addition to the original village hall would be quickly outgrown. With the sloping terrain of the land behind the old city hall, a ground level fire station was later added with two doors facing north. The second floor housed the Council chambers.
In 1972 long time Beachwood police dispatcher Carol Rouleau, sitting at the cramped and antiquated police dispatch desk at the old City (Village) Hall.
By the late 1960’s it was time for a new modern City Hall complex. The building would consist of 27,000 square feet. This new complex would give every department what they needed. The mayor and his administrative staff would have the space they had long awaited. The growing building department would no longer need to share space with others and the police department would have the high tech offices and jail area that they needed.
Constructed in 1961, this room would serve as the Council chambers until a new municipal center would be completed in 1973.
The first step would be to decide upon an architect. After reviewing proposals from numerous firms, Keeva Kekst was selected. Under the direction of Robert Wurzman, a committee was formed to work with the architect; the citizens and all of the departments within the city to determine what would be needed. In April of 1971, the contract for both city hall and a fire station was issued to the J.D. Johnson Co.
The land for the new city hall had been purchased in the 1960’s from Albert Lavin, who in turn had purchased it in March of 1956 from Ila W. Johnson. For many years there was a home on that property which was built prior to the turn of the century. A bank that foreclosed on it many years ago had owned it. According to James Fisher, who, from the age of six, was raised in the home from 1933 to 1941, the home had no heat or water. They had an outhouse and water was carried in from a pump in the rear of the lot. Fisher has a lot of memories including attending the eight-room schoolhouse where his teacher was the well-respected Mr. Hoxter, who taught many grades at the same time. Fisher also remembers delivering the Cleveland Press on his pony 6 days a week, when there was no Sunday edition to the Press. Fisher’s route took him east on North Woodland Rd. and north on Brainard rd., west on Cedar Rd., and then south on Richmond Rd. He was paid three cents per day or eighteen cents a week! Fisher also recalled the gas station where the Fairmount condominiums now stand, just before the angle to North Woodland. For many years Adolph Fuchs operated this gas station. Fisher remembers that prior to Fuchs living in the home, a family operated speak-easy was in the house during prohibition. Often there would be a man sitting on the steps who was known to have had control over such illegal opportunities. According to Fisher, a passing auto gunned down the man who had been sitting on the porch.
Photo taken 1956. This home was located where the Police Department driveway is now located.
The design for the new city hall complex came from very strict requirements. Mayor Zeiger sought to maintain the integrity of the old village hall and the Methodist Church. In addition, it had to be connected to the service garage that had been built as a self-standing building several years earlier. It needed to face Richmond Rd because that was viewed as the main street through the city and Zeiger wanted everyone to view it and to be able to see city government in action. One might ask why the large circular window is situated where it is. Zeiger and Kekst wanted people outside to be able to see fellow citizens and others addressing the Council. If one looks into the center of the window from the outside, one can see the podium that is used in the council chamber. The same concept was true if one looked in the front or side doors of the city hall; the glass partitions would expose the mayor’s office and staff hard at work. Early plans also included a circular drive in the front.
Beachwood's first service garage, built in the mid 1960's,would soon be hidden by the construction of the new city hall. The white car in front of the garage entrance belonged to Emil Cipra, Beachwood's long time, hard working Service Director. To the left of Emil's car is a police cruiser which also functioned as an ambulance.
Early plans called for the expenditure of $1.5 million for both the new city hall and a new fire station at the north end of the city hall property. Ralph Bing, a councilman and resident of the southern end of town, felt the south end needed a fire station. With the development of Commerce Park and the future plans for Chagrin Blvd. this seemed reasonable. City Hall was built for $1.1 million, which included furnishings, and the Fire Station 2 was built for $160,000.00.
The fire department existed mainly as a volunteer organization with only one full time employee, Leonard "Bud" Billings, until 1974. Billings had joined the Police Department in 1952 after serving for several years as a South Euclid policeman. In 1963 Bud was seriously injured in a traffic accident while on duty and was unable to return to his job as a patrolman. Bud was so dedicated that he took on the role of police dispatcher after his accident. In 1970 recognizing the need for a fire inspector, the city appointed Bud to this newly created position. When Bud retired he held the rank of lieutenant and was considered the deputy fire Chief.
With the completion of the new city hall, the old city hall and the council chambers provided space for the full-time firemen and their sleeping quarters. In 1974 Beachwood hired its first full-time fire chief, a position previously assigned as "double duty" for the police chief. Actually, some time in the mid 1950’s, the position of Fire Chief was created and the Police Chief held both positions. With the city growing, it was time to develop a fire department that would ultimately be staffed 24 hours a day. When looking for the right candidate, Beachwood did not have far to look. Shaker’s Fire Chief, George Vild, was retiring and was the perfect man to get Beachwood started on the right foot. When Vild took command in 1974, the city already had two full time fire fighters along with Bud Billings. The two men had been hired in April of 1973. They were Kevin McNeally and Jim Walker. Each year for the next four or five years, five firemen were hired to bring the department to the minimum acceptable level necessary to operate a full time fire department. Beachwood residents of yesterday and today recognize that while the department became a full-time department in 1974, it could not have provided quality services without the help of the volunteer firemen that for so long and with such pride have answered the call of duty.
Despite the performance standards levied on the newly created fire department, one particular fire to this day transcends the understanding of citizens. Ironically, the site of the fire was identical with the current location for Fire Station Two, then simply a plot of land on Chagrin. The property dates from the turn of the century to the Radcliffe Family. In the 1950’s, the site was occupied by Netti Radcliffe, whose home of several children was often lacking a father. At one point Nettie married a man who had been in prison for many years. It has been said that this man was abusive to the children. Coupled with this misfortune, Nettie Radcliffe mysteriously disappeared one day. The investigation by police led them to believe that foul play was at hand and the prime suspect was her husband. Was she buried in the back yard? Was she taken elsewhere and killed? Some believe she disappeared in Burton, Ohio. The answer has never been found. Several weeks before the home was to be torn down it mysteriously caught on fire.
Radcliffe home on Kinsman Road on fire just before it was to be torn down in 1971.
Under the direction of Chief Vild and during the next ten years, the Fire Department purchased a variety of new equipment. In 1974 when the department gained its full-time staff, it had three pieces of equipment: the 1953 Ford which was a work horse, the 1966 LaFrance Hook & Ladder that developer Albert Lavin contributed, and a 1969 American LaFrance pumper. In 1978 the department took delivery of a 1978 American LaFrance Pumper, a more modern looking truck then known as a Pioneer Model.
As the fire department only gradually approached modern standards, it is interesting to note that the garage doors of the fire station on Richmond Rd. at Fairmount Blvd. were not always set up as they now appear. When the Village Hall was first built in the mid 1920’s, there was no fire department. In the 1940’s when the volunteer department was formed, the 1917 LaFrance was parked in one of the two "bays" that were underneath the original portion of the Village Hall. Today those two bays still exist; however, the doors do not touch the ground. Due to a change in the grade for the addition made later, the doors are about a foot off the ground. When the north wing was added to the Village Hall in 1961, the fire department moved into the new lower level. However, the doors were not the three that are visible today on the east side. There were two doors on the north side. When the new City Hall was built next door, the grade changed on the north side of the fire station. With the 1966 Ladder truck at Station 2 on Chagrin Blvd. the long bays were no longer necessary and the need for three doors increased. Therefore, about three feet were added to the East Side of the building and the three present doors were installed. This is apparent from the mismatch of brickwork where the original two doors had been at the north side of the building.
Prior to 1977, the Police Department with a fleet of pea green Pontiac station wagons handled Beachwood’s rescue service. However, there was a growing trend in Ohio to turn the rescue work over to the fire departments and train the fireman to be paramedics. In 1976 a close friend of Mayor Zeiger donated $50,000.00 to the city for
the purchase of a GMC rescue squad and the training of several fire fighters so they could be certified as paramedics. Zeiger’s friend had one stipulation. No one other than the three people ever knew who the anonymous donor was. That was until the mid 1990’s, when the donors finally went public with their contribution. The committee to evaluate equipment and develop the program consisted of Zeiger, Chief Vild, and councilman Larry Small. By September of 1977, the squad was delivered. Several days after being put into service, Councilman Larry Small was at a baseball game where a flying ball struck a young man named Robert Zimmerman. Small knew exactly what to do: he called the Beachwood paramedics. Today the Beachwood Fire Department responds daily to many calls making it one of the busiest departments in the area.
1966 American LaFrance Hook & Ladder
Beachwood Police Chief Tom Sexton retired in 1974. Sexton had joined the department in 1947 and served as Beachwood’s third chief since the Village was incorporated in 1915. Sexton watched Beachwood grow up around him. When he started he knew every family in the village; after all, there were only about 50 families in 1947. Long time Beachwood resident Virginia DeSantis remembers "when Tom Sexton drove by you knew you were living in a safe community." Chief Sexton also owned the SOHIO gas station on the northwest corner of Cedar Rd. and Green Rd. where the Pro Care is now located. When the Chief retired he moved to Florida and spent much of his time playing golf with his friend and mentor, former Police Chief Johnny Havel.
Replacing Sexton was not easy. After all, he had built the foundation for one of Ohio’s finest Police Departments. In mid 1974 Mayor Zeiger appointed Ben Collins to the position of Chief. Collins had joined the force in 1952 after spending two years with the University Heights Police Department. Collins remembers the early days of his career when Shaker Heights dispatched their calls in the evening. At that time, the dispatcher did not need to give the address because they knew where everyone lived in the Village. One of the cases that Collins remembers was the call in 1966 by a Rexway Road resident who informed the police that he had heard a gun shot. Upon his arrival, police officer Donald Cunningham found William Haslem, the son of a Cleveland police officer, stuffing the body of well-known Sam Caputo into the trunk of a car. Haslem was sentenced to the Ohio Penitentiary for the murder of Sam Caputo but escaped a year later. Collins retired in 1977 and relocated to Arizona. Keep in mind when Collins started in 1952 Beachwood’s Police Department consisted of five men. When Collins retired there were twenty-eight men in the department. Today the department boosts that it employs a contingency of over forty. John Joyce, who subsequently retired in 1980, replaced Collins. Joyce had joined the department in 1965. With the departure of Joyce, the position of Police Chief went to Robert Abrams, who had joined the department in 1964.
With the continued and consistent migration of people of the Jewish faith to the eastern suburbs, the need for several congregations to be built east was growing. Some, such as Heights Temple of Cleveland Heights, relocated to Fairmount Blvd. in Pepper Pike. A new temple was built for Rabbi Horowitz’s congregation on Shaker Blvd. west of Brainard Road also in Pepper Pike. That congregation was once known as Brith Emeth and is now a part of Park Synagogue, which is based in Cleveland Heights. The Brith Emeth structure is now known as "Park - East," which is used for a variety of religious functions.
In December of 1968, Beachwood City Council endorsed the construction of "The Temple"- Tefereth Israel - to be built on eastbound Shaker Blvd., just east of Richmond Rd. This building would be known as the "branch" of the Temple located on East 105th at Ansel Road. While the new location was much more convenient for the congregation, the older location had a distinctive domed architecture that could not be replaced and which the Council did not want to give up. While there were plans to move the dome to the new location, the cost was prohibitive. Today the congregation is successful in using both facilities. It should be noted that The Temple is located on the land that was once the Marous Farm and the controversial site where a shopping center was to be built. The groundbreaking was held early in the spring of 1969.
The groundbreaking for The Temple Branch" Left to Right. Lionel Greenbaum co-chair of the fundraising committee, Charles Evens, Chair of the Building committee, Robert Deutch, co-chair of the fundraising committee, Bud (Max) Eisner, president of the Temple, Ernest Siegler member and contractor.
April of 1968 brought Beachwood its third nursing home. (The First Slovak and Beach Haven facilities were built in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s). Preferably described as "a center for aging," Menorah Park, which was formed in 1906 at Orange
Ave. and East 40th , moved to Beachwood. The home was created when Orthodox Jews felt the need for a home that followed stricter religious rules than that provided by The Montefiore Home. Menorah Park was first known as the Hebrew Orthodox Jewish Old Age Home. When in 1940 it was relocated at 726 Lakeview in Cleveland, the name was changed to the Jewish Orthodox Home.
The land on which Menorah Park is located is the land that the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland purchased in 1965 - a purchase conditional on the landowners annexing themselves to Beachwood from Pepper Pike. Prior to the purchase Menorah Park’s land acquisition included 37 acres. The Bemis family, who operates a well-known floral business in South Euclid, owned a good portion of that land. For many years the majority of the land stood barren awaiting further development.
In 1978 Menorah Park opened what was to be called Menorah Towers, which is an independent living center with 207 apartments. Prior to its opening, the name was changed to R.H. Myers. He was one of the founders of Menorah Park in 1906. His son, David N. Myers, has been very active within the Jewish community and was concerned about the needs of its aging population. This building has an interesting story. It seems that it was built eight feet too close to Cedar Rd. That is, the footers were poured 8 feet north of where they should have been. The mishap was not discovered until the brickwork had started. Apparently the design had already been given a seven-foot variance. Still, this did not sit well with Mayor Zeiger. Zeiger was out-voted four to one by the Planning Commission to permit the mistake to remain. The R.H. Meyers complex is not a nursing home; residents are largely on their own, though one meal a day is provided in a communal dining room and housekeeping is also available.
In 1976 just east of The Temple Branch, another Judaic building was under construction. The original intention for the building was the joint home of The Cleveland College of Jewish Studies and the Bureau of Jewish Studies. For a variety of reasons, the Bureau of Jewish Studies decided not to relocate into the new space. This left the College with space they could not use. At the same time, a new Jewish day school known as Agnon was looking for a permanent home.
Agnon had been founded in 1969 by a group of Jewish leaders dedicated to excellence in academic and religious education. The school is named in honor of S.Y. Agnon, the first Israeli to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Agnon’s founding members included Rabbi Mordecai, Haniti Schreiber, Linda Ellett, Robert Goldberg, Simon and Ziona Kadis, Gene and Marilyn Macroff, Aviva Orlan, Peter and Aliki Rzepka, and Walter and Beth Schaffer. Prior to their move into the their permanent home at 26500 Shaker Blvd., the school used the classrooms at Brith Emeth in Pepper Pike. The school is currently under the direction of Ray Levi Ph. D., who is known by the students as "Ray." In 1996 the school took on a new look with a $5 million addition.
As mentioned earlier in this book, The Centenary Methodist Church had been built in 1884 on the north side of Fairmount Blvd. just west of Richmond Rd. The stone foundation came from a small quarry located on the Bleasdale farm now the site of the closed Sunny Acres Hospital. The church was the regular gathering place for the community from its inception until the mid 1930’s The membership grew until the 1950’s when the community transformed itself into a neighborhood of young Jewish families. In 1973 the church rented out the building to Rabbi Kahan’s congregation, the "ETZ Chaym Congregation," for use on the Jewish Sabbath. An additional tenant for the church in the late 1970’s was the Diet Workshop. With the death of the Church’s lay Reverend Horance G. Ebersole, it was evident that the church building use as a church was coming to an end. The active membership was limited to a handful of people, many of whom were descendants of the first settlers in the area and founders of the church. The remaining members included James Kline, Lee Kline, Ruby Corlett, David Faunce, Cliff Soper, June Ebersole, Dorothy and Russell Elkin and Willifred Rolland. On August 4th of 1980, the trustees of the church met and voted to sell the church, and merge their house of worship with the North Mentor Methodist Centenary Church. While Rabbi Kahan’s congregation had made an offer to purchase the church, a more favorable offer by the City of $70,000.00 was accepted. The last service and a fellowship dinner were held September 21st , 1980. When the deed was transferred to the city, all deed restrictions were eliminated, allowing the city to do as it pleased with the property.
Photo of Centenary Church in 1945.
Rev. Horance Ebersole and Rabbi Kahan in front of the Centenary Methodist Church on Fairmount Blvd.
In September of 1977, The Chapel was built on a sliver of property west of I-271 between North Woodland Rd.and Fairmount Blvd. The Chapel was affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America and was composed of non- denominational Protestant membership. In November of 1986, Shaaray Tikvah, a conservative synagogue, purchased the property.
Commercial & Retail Development
From 1965 to 1980 there was not a day that went by that some type of construction was not going on inside Commerce Park.
At the same time Chagrin Blvd. was becoming the "hot spot" for office buildings. In 1966 long time Beachwood residents Kenneth and Howard Young built "Building One" of Commerce Park Square. Prior to this venture the Youngs had built many homes in Beachwood, with a high concentration in the Fairmount Park Estate development. Known as 23200 Chagrin, the project was originally planned as four buildings known as Building One, Two Three and Four, and was consequently named the "Square." When the project was started, zoning regulations limited the height of buildings to three stories. At the same time, the need for adequate parking was an issue for city planners. This provided a challenge and an opportunity for the Youngs. Over the years the land had been used as a landfill and needed to be cleaned up. In lieu of refilling the land with clean soil, architect Bill Dorsky designed the first three buildings with an underground garage under the front lot, allowing the appearance of only three stories at the street level. The lower level basement has windows on all four sides and overlooks a landscaped, park-like setting. This allowed the developer to have space for lease in a four-story building as opposed to a three-story building with a fully exposed basement. In 1968 Building Two was completed and in 1971 Building Three was completed. In 1971, the height restrictions were changed; a larger footprint was used, which resulted in the construction of a nine-story building known as "Building Three". In 1983 and 1988 Keva Kekst was chosen as the architect for the remaining buildings known as "Four" and "Five." Ultimately, when these remaining structures were erected, the garage was expanded to surround the complete complex. Today these five buildings continue to be considered the gateway to Beachwood’s Commerce Park.
In 1968 the first of three buildings were built on land owned by Zehman - Wolf Company on Chagrin Blvd. The first building built was Chagrin Plaza East. It sat on top of a nine hundred car-parking garage. The second building to be built in the development was a matching building known as Chagrin Plaza West. A modern National City Bank building was built between the two 3 story office buildings. Original plans also called for a building in the rear of the property; however this has not yet happened.
Beachwood achieved a new level of notoriety in 1968 when it was issued its own zip code and post office. The city had been divided among its neighboring communities’ postal codes. Now its designated zone was 44122. Like so many government endeavors, naming the post office took shape as a political problem. The postal officials thought it should be called the Warrensville Township post office. When Beachwood’s leadership heard about this, a quick resolve of the matter was in order, and the name was changed to "The Beachwood Branch" before the first shovel of soil had been turned.
The need for a post office resulted because of the growing number of businesses that chose to locate within Commerce Park. By far, the largest employer in the area was the World Headquarters of Fabri-Centers of America better known as Jo-Ann Fabrics. Designed by Keeva J. Kekst, the $2.5 million building consisted of 106,000 square feet of warehouse and 34,000 square feet of office space. At that time, Fabri-Centers had 166 stores in 28 states and has since grown to 936 stores in 48 states The distribution center in Commerce Park was opened in the spring of 1970 and expanded many times before the company outgrew its space and relocated to Hudson in April of 1990. Today Fabric-Centers is the leader in retail marking of both fabrics and crafts in the United States. It is interesting to note that Fabri-Centers current chairman of the Board, Alan Rosskamm grew up in Beachwood and graduated from Beachwood High School in 1968. In fact many of today’s local and international corporate leaders are homegrown Beachwood graduates. (see chapter 8)
Groundbreaking for Fabri-Centers' new distribution center at 23550 Commerce Park Road. September 1969. Left to Right Leonard Krill, Contractor, Keeva Kekst, Architect, Martin Rosskamm, Fabric Center President, Mario Frato, Building Inspector, John Havel, Police Chief, Harvey Friedman, President of Council.
As Chagrin Blvd. near the new super highway (I-271) developed into a Mecca for retail establishments in 1962, the Beachwood City Council was cautious about what was allowed and what was not. Clearly Chagrin Blvd. was not going to look like Pearl Rd or Northfield Rd, which were littered with fast food restaurants and discount stores. However, there was some common sense to the zoning that was put in place for Chagrin Blvd. from the highway west to Richmond Rd. This move allowed for gas stations, hotels, and auto dealerships. In 1962, Chrysler purchased the land on the north side of Richmond Rd., three hundred feet east of Richmond Rd. Herbert Giesler, the former Police Chief of Beachwood, had owed this land. Giesler purchased the land in the late 1940’s and built a modern two-story home. Chrysler’s lucrative offer was one
that he could not turn down. Consequently, in 1962 the house was burned down by the Beachwood Volunteer Fire Department at the request of the new owners, Chrysler, and a modern Chrysler - Plymouth auto dealership was built in 1965, by the name of Shakerwood Chrysler-Plymouth.
Giesler home Circa 1950 on the north side of Kinsman Rd.
Commerce Park 1971
Beachwood finally developed its first shopping center in November of 1969. While it was not the $20 million center Lavin or Ratner had planned, it was a shopping center nonetheless. In 1961, Albert Lavin had obtained permission to build a simple bank building on Richmond Rd. just south of Cedar Rd., which would be the home of his Beachwood Savings and Loan. For several years it stood all by itself and was a basic brick building. After a considerable period of time, a small addition was made to the north side of the building. Then in 1968, James W. Male, the President and CEO of Parkview Federal Savings and Loan acquired the bank and the property from Albert Lavin. Male quickly converted the bank to a branch of his successful and well-respected Parkview Federal. If one were to stand in the parking lot in front of the bank and look south, they would see a set of steps leading to the yard of the first home south of the shopping center. These steps were placed there for the convenience of the bank manager Jim Male’s brother Jack, who happened to live in that house. Male also constructed a major addition and called it "LaPlace." This shopping center, with its New Orleans type of court atmosphere was different from any other. LaPlace featured approximately 24 upscale retailers, as well as a gourmet supermarket opened by Chandler and Rudd, and a drug store known as the Beachwood Apothecary, which was accessible from the outside and was next to the bank. One of the features of the building included a community room that was available for local civic organizations. This was located on the lower level where the Ho-Wah restaurant is currently situated. The small center and the quality of customers that shopped at LaPlace had a lot to do with the development in the area. The crown jewel for Male’s LaPlace was the Inner Circle Restaurant. Located on the main level, it was a class act as one of the East Side’s finest restaurants. Without a doubt, LaPlace’s refined character influenced and set a "Beachwood Standard" for the other commercial and residential structures on this corner. Unfortunately, while the shopping center had class, it was not a financial winner. Subsequently, in 1978, the center was sold and a second major addition was put onto the East End of the building along with an extension to the front entry. With additional space several well known "brand name destination stores" were added.
Aerial view in 1968 of the Holiday Inn and Holiday Drive.
The next major project for Beachwood was the development of Orange Place. This road is located in both Beachwood and Orange Village. As the opening of I-271 marked the nation’s overall growth in highway usage, the corners near highway exits were a hot commodity for developers. I-271 and Chagrin was no exception. In 1968 Beachwood had inaugurated the opening of the Holiday Inn on the corner of Chagrin and Holiday Parkway (now known as Park East Drive) By October of 1971 a new Holiday Inn was being built in Beachwood on Orange Place. Several years earlier in 1967, B.C.D. Land Company had planned a Statler Hilton for the property. The investors of that company included Ervin Brown, Carl Cultrona, and John Drotos. However, like so many development projects, it simply did not happen. This new Holiday Inn was owned and operated by Edward J. DeBartolo, a developer of many shopping malls, who owned several Holiday Inns in the area. The Holiday Inn at Holiday Parkway (now Park East) became a Sheraton, and for a short time had been know as the Beachwood Inn and the Beachwood Quality Inn before taking on its current Radisson name.
In the fall of 1973, ground was broken on Chagrin for Beachwood’s second shopping center. While it is not the mega-center Beachwood had earlier planned elsewhere in the community, it was close to what the Regional Planning Commission’s original 1958 recommendations were for this site. This shopping center, known as "Pavilion," was marketed as a high-fashion mall. The center struggled from the day it opened. While there was a healthy population of upscale shoppers who lived and worked in the area, the neighborhood already had LaPlace and, further east in Woodmere, Eaton Center, which had just opened as a high fashion shopping center. Although one of the first tenants at Pavilion was the notable Swensons Ice Cream Parlor, it lasted only a few years. At the west end of the shopping center was a Pick-N-Pay later known as Finest supermarket. It was marketed as an upscale gourmet supermarket. This gourmet store ultimately outgrew its space and relocated into the expanded center when a new strip center was constructed in 1993.
In August of 1978, the mega-shopping center finally became reality when Beachwood Place Mall opened. This would be Beachwood’s crown jewel. The center was built by the Rouse Company of Maryland, and so was designed in the typical upscale Rouse style. This mall was entirely different from its contemporaries. It was smaller than most and had only two department stores: Higbee’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. This was Sak’s first Ohio store. The Mall was known as a fashion mall, meaning the department stores did not sell hard goods such as furniture or appliances. The entire facility was upscale and blended well into the surrounding environment. Its design was much different from the 1950s style shopping center Albert Lavin had once proposed for the land. The two level center included a food court on the lover level, and an upscale restaurant on the second level.
In 1977 the last major tract of land on the south side of Chagrin was ready for development. The majority of the buildings on Chagrin were multi-tenant buildings. However, the building at 23700 Chagrin would be the $10 million technical center and headquarters for Master Builders, a company founded in 1909 by Sylvester Flesheim. Best known for manufacturing additives for concrete, for many years the headquarters were located at Lee and Mayfield Roads in Cleveland Heights. Today after several take-over fights, it continues to be a leader in building products and serves as one of Beachwood’s larger employers.
In November of 1977, plans were presented to Council for the Mt. Sinai Medical Building at 26900 Cedar Road. If approved the land would be purchased from Forest City by three partners, David Goldberg, Bart Simon and Paul Katz. Several years earlier in 1972 the trustees of the land, Paul Lipman and Norman Milstein, had planned to allow Forest City to construct a nine-story medical building on the property. The City had rezoned the land from multi-tenant to medical office usage for Forest City, with the stipulation that the building be only three stories, and that there would be no outpatient services or clinic in the building. Though initially known as The Acacia Medical Building, Forest City was unable to find tenants for the proposed site, and was forced to drop the idea. Several years later Bart Simon and Paul Katz had an option on the land at the northwest corner of Richmond and Chagrin, and likewise had intended to build a medical building. When it was realized that this site was too small for the growing need for medical office space the investors traded the option for the land at 26900 Cedar. Initially the November 1977 presentation to council was viewed negatively by council and by then Council President Harvey Friedman. There had been a serious increase in traffic, the mall had opened next door and residents on Penshurst and Twickenham Rds. were concerned about increased traffic as their dead-end streets were being extended to Richmond. While the building was called the Mt.
Sinai Medical Building, it had no financial relationship with Mt. Sinai Hospital. However only those Drs. with privileges at Mt. Sinai were accepted as tenants.
August 1978, Groundbreaking for the Mt. Sinai Medical Building at 26900 Cedar Rd. Participates includes. Marice Saltman, Mayor George Zieger Dr. James Katz, Paul Katz, Bart Simon, City Council President Harvey Friedman, Dr. Sanford Arons, Dr Malcom Brahms, Max Friedman, Dr. Beldon Goldman, Dr. Victor Vertes, Julius Paris, Mort Epstein, World renown Dr. Seymour Liebermann, Dr. Stuart Markowitz
From 1965 to 1980, Chagrin Blvd went from a street with no sewers to an office builders’ paradise. Leasing agents were lining up to handle all of the new and potential businesses they could find to relocate in the city. In the late 1970’s many businesses were driven from downtown Cleveland for a variety of political and economic reasons. Clearly, Beachwood was one of the places that many found desirable. As the city entered the 1980’s, it was in the position to furnish its residents and the businesses a solid community, rich with the dollars necessary for continued economic development. The next step would be convincing the governor to spend the funds necessary to widen Chagrin and Richmond so traffic could enter and exit the community with an added sense of order.
Sidebar: BOOM. BOOM.