History of the  West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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The Kinkelaar Farm

by Gary Swilik



Have you ever passed by the Corrigan-DiCicco Funeral Home at West 147th and Lorain Avenue and wondered if it used to be somebody's private residence?


Indeed it was! Originally it was the farmhouse of Henry Kinkelaar, who was born in Ohio in 1857, the son of immigrants from Holland. According to property records, Henry bought the land in about 1883. In fact, West 148th north of Lorain was formerly called Kinkelaar Road.


"My grandfather Henry's farm once extended north from Lorain to Triskett Road," explains Raymond Joseph Kinkelaar, 89. "In addition to farming, my grandfather did plastering and bricklaying. He used to walk the railroad tracks to get to the work sites."


Back then the tracks crossed Lorain Avenue at street level near West 143rd. (Of course, today the underpass takes busy Lorain under the railroad tracks.) Tragically, while walking the tracks one night in October, 1908, Henry Kinkelaar was struck and killed by a train.


"At the time my father Joseph was about 19 years old," says Raymond. "He took over caring for my grandmother Matilda and the family. He married my mother, Ella Karkoff, in 1914. I was born in 1919 in an upstairs bedroom of the farmhouse that later became Corrigan's Funeral Home."


Joseph Kinkelaar soon remodeled the old farmhouse into three-family rental property which changed its appearance considerably. He then built a new home for the family a few doors to the north at 3685 West 148th. (Photos at end of page.)  It has a distinctive exterior plaster finish, the result of the builder's skills as a professional plasterer. This house also still stands today.


"My dad (Joseph) was doing pretty well at one time," explains Raymond. "He was head of the water department in West Park. He had a lot of property, some of it from his father. This was before the depression."


"My father lost the house (that later became Corrigan's Funeral Home) during the depression," Raymond continues. "And he lost a lot of property on West 148th Street, too. The only house he saved was the home he built for himself (at 3685 West 148th.) which was built in my name. That's what saved the house from being taken by Cleveland Trust. I was 15 at the time.


In 1927, Joseph Kinkelaar also constructed a brick building at 14830 Lorain Avenue, just east of the present gas station at West 150th. The intention was to rent the property to the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company as one of their grocery stores.


"I think Cleveland Trust handled the deal," says Raymond. "My dad would build the store and A & P would lease it for one year. I don't think A& P ever moved in. They paid the rent for one year, and then never moved in."


Later the same building was home to a series of neighborhood restaurants, the best remembered being Waldo's which was open from the late 1940s to 1969. The building was torn down in 1970.


Raymond recalls growing up in the area when it was more like a country town than a busy city.


"The Schueneman Family had a farm just east of us where they grew corn. I remember pilfering some of their pumpkins when I was a kid," he says with a good-natured laugh. "Lorain Street used to be brick. When they resurfaced it, they piled the old bricks along the side of the road. Local families picked them up, took them home, and built sidewalks and flowerbeds. I also remember when West 150th stopped at Lorain, before they extended it through to Triskett."


"I went to both the old and new John Marshall High Schools," Raymond tells us. "I had some classes in the portable wooden buildings behind old Marshall on Lorain Avenue which were heated by a potbelly stove fueled with coal. To get to the new Marshall on West 140th I used to cut through my dad's cherry orchard. I graduated in 1937."


Eventually the Kinkelaar Family sold the old farmhouse. It passed through several owners and became Corrigan's Funeral Home in 1940. There have been a number of additions and renovations since then but, look close, and you'll see the building's country-farm origins hiding just beneath the surface.


The farm land behind the house was sold to local builder Philip Marquard and was soon covered with dozens of homes. Few residents realize they are living on the former Kinkelaar Farm.


Raymond Kinkelaar now lives in Fairview Park, Ohio, with his wife Helen. He had a long career as a plasterer, like his father and grandfather before him. The West Park Historical Society has presented Mr. Kinkelaar with a FIRST FAMILIES OF WEST PARK certificate in recognition of his family's pioneer status.




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Updated 18 November 2014