Historic Euclid Golf Allotment 

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The History of Euclid Golf

Context of Development

During the late 1800s, Cleveland’s iron and steel industries grew dramatically.  Large numbers of immigrants were drawn to Cleveland by the relatively abundant low-skilled jobs that these industries offered.  As the city’s population grew, it crowded  existing neighborhoods adjacent to the factories and transportation lines.  Commerce and urbanization began to encroach more and more upon the once tranquil neighborhoods surrounding Euclid Avenue, where Cleveland’s industrial elite had made their homes.  The advent of the electric street railway in the 1890s, gave Cleveland’s elite the means to climb to the “Heights” and escape to a more peaceful, healthful environment.

 Cleveland’s suburbanization occurred earlier and more rapidly than in other American cities, and Cleveland’s elite pioneered its suburban expansion, especially to the east.  In 1900, 10% of Cleveland’s elite already lived in suburban locations.  By 1915, the figure had grown to 34%.  By 1931, 82% of Cleveland’s wealthiest citizens lived in the suburbs.  Cleveland Heights was one of the first centers of elite suburban growth.  In 1900, 1.5% of Cleveland’s elite lived in what would become Cleveland Heights.  By 1915, the figure was 9%; and, in 1931, 35% of Cleveland’s elite made their homes in Cleveland Heights.[1]

 Although only 5 miles from the center of downtown Cleveland, mid-nineteenth century Cleveland Heights was primarily farmland, quarries and vineyards.  The land that was to become Euclid Golf was a timber farm.  The steep incline that exists at the entrance to the Heights and forms the western boundary of the Allegheny Mountains’ Portage escarpment, made large-scale development impractical until the 1890s when traction technology became available.  In 1896 the Cleveland Electric Railway Company entered into an agreement with the Euclid Heights Realty Company to bring a streetcar franchise up Cedar Glen to service its nascent residential development, located just north of Euclid Golf.[2] 

 In 1890, Patrick Calhoun, a prominent southern lawyer and grandson of U.S. Vice-President John C. Calhoun, began planning one of the first suburban developments in Cleveland, Euclid Heights, on 300 acres of land at the top of Cedar Hill.  He called it “Euclid” after the grand avenue where Cleveland’s most prominent citizens lived; “Heights” described its lofty and healthful location.  Landscape architect E.W. Bowditch laid out Euclid Heights on the “Garden City” model.  Abundant trees were planted along gently curving streets that carried English names.  Calhoun’s Euclid Heights Realty Company instituted deed restrictions that controlled the size of the lots and the minimum costs for homes.  The restrictions also prohibited commercial uses, the very thing that threatened the Euclid Avenue way of life.[3]

 Meanwhile, the Garden City Movement was taking hold in Cleveland.  Cleveland’s rapid industrialization had produced overcrowded conditions, noise and pollution that threatened the city’s health.  By the 1890s, Cleveland’s leadership sought relief through the organization of a park system.  The Shaker Heights Land Company, predecessors of the Van Swerigen’s Shaker Heights Improvement Company, took advantage of the new emphasis on green space to enhance the salability of their land in the Heights.  They donated a portion of their land along Doan Brook and convinced the Amblers (Ambler Heights), Calhoun and John D. Rockefeller, Sr. to do likewise, creating parkland and roads (North Park, South Park and East Boulevard) to connect the Heights to Wade Park, Rockefeller Park, Gordon Park and Lake Erie below.[4]  Their foresight increased the value of the land immediately adjacent to the parkland and enabled its development into elite residential neighborhoods that took on many of the characteristics of “Garden Cities.”

 To further entice Cleveland’s elite to move to Euclid Heights, Patrick Calhoun planned a first-class recreational facility.  The Euclid Club, a country club, town club and golf club, opened in 1901.[5]  The Euclid Golf Allotment is so named because it was developed on the upper nine holes of the former Euclid Golf Club Course.

 The Euclid Golf Club became Cleveland’s first professionally designed eighteen-hole golf course.  Architects Meade & Garfield designed the English style clubhouse.  The course itself was laid out by William Herbert (Bertie) Way, golf pro at the Detroit Country Club who had just placed second in the 1899 U.S. Open.[6] Patrick Calhoun soon discovered that he did not have enough land for a proper eighteen-hole course, so he worked out an agreement with neighboring property owner, John D. Rockefeller, Sr., who was a golf enthusiast.  Rockefeller owned 141 acres just across Cedar Road, south of Euclid Heights.  He agreed to lease his property to the club, rent free, with the stipulation that golf not be played on the Sabbath.[7] The course was laid out so that both the ninth and eighteenth greens were situated near the clubhouse.  On Sundays, members would play the lower holes twice. (See the layout of the links.)

 In 1906, Rockefeller permitted the Cleveland Street Railroad Company to place a streetcar line through his property (and consequently directly through the upper nine holes of the Euclid Club) to connect the Cedar Road line to Coventry Road.[8]  With the increasing availability of streetcar transportation, many residential developments were springing up in the Heights.  Patrick Calhoun’s Euclid Heights development lay to the North, and M.M. Brown’s Mayfield Heights lay just East of that.  Ambler Heights lay to Euclid Golf’s West.  In 1904, The Shaker Heights Land Company had put forth a plan to subdivide and develop land that began on the Eastern edge of the lower Euclid Club golf links and ran through Rockefeller’s property to the Shaker Lakes.  Street plans were developed on Rockefeller’s property that look remarkably similar to those that Deming eventually built; however, the company went bankrupt and the plan was never completed.[9]  In 1907, the Van Sweringen brothers took up where The Shaker Heights Land Company left off and began developing a section just East of Euclid Golf.  The Euclid Golf Club was becoming surrounded with residential developments.

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[1] Borchert, James. “From City to Suburb: The Strange Case of Cleveland’s Disappearing Elite and Their Changing Residential Landscapes: 1885 – 1935”, 1999, Proceedings of the Ohio Academy of History.

[2] Hays, Blaine S. and James A. Toman, Horse Trails to Regional Rails: The Story of Public Transit in Greater Cleveland, 1996, page 45.

[3] Morton, Marian. Cleveland Heights, Ohio: The Making Of An Urban Suburb, 1847–2002, forthcoming, chapter 2.

[4] Haberman, Ian S., The Van Sweringens of Cleveland: The Biography of an Empire, 1979, page 9.

[5] Pamphlet published by the Mayfield Country Club on their 75th Anniversary in 1986.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The B. R. Deming Company, Euclid Golf Neighborhood, Cleveland, Ohio: 1920.

[8] The streetcar route ran along what would become Fairmount Boulevard.  Mortgage Deed transferring ownership of Euclid Golf from Abeyton Realty to Barton R. Deming Company, October 3, 1919, Rockefeller Archives.

[9] O.C. Ringle & Co., Shaker Heights: Ideal Homes Sites, Cleveland, OH: 1904.



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