of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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by Gary Swilik
Have you ever passed by the
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.
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