History of the West Park

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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Lakewood Landmarks Have West Park Roots

by Gary Swilik

Most folks know the once-independent City of West Park was named for the property of John M. West whose house still stands at 3684 West 138th Street. His beautifully landscaped yard along the south side of Lorain Avenue locally known as "West's Park" - included a pond and rowboats which residents were welcome to use.

Few realize Clifton Boulevard and the historic Southern terrace in nearby Lakewood are also connected with the West Family. In fact, a total of four streets in Lakewood are named for John M. West's grandson.

In 1882 John M. West's daughter, Fannie, married a local man named Christopher Columbus Southern who owned a farm in present Lakewood, Ohio. Their first child, Clifton Southern, died at only three years old in December, 1886. Though another son, Harold, later joined the family, the death of young Clifton was obviously a profound loss.

As the years passed Christopher and Fannie Southern began to sell off their farmland to establish residential streets. They memorialized their lost son by naming four of the new streets in his honor: Clifton Boulevard, Clifton Road, West Clifton Boulevard and West Clifton Road.

The word "West" in West Clifton, has nothing to do with the geographic location of the streets. It was created by combining the name Clifton Southern with the name of his grandfather, John M. West.

Mr. Southern also built many of the houses in northwest Lakewood including the "Southern" building at 1372-1382 West Clifton Boulevard, a terrace-style, six-suite apartment building that still stands today.

Christopher Southern passed away in 1907 in his residence at the southeast corner of Detroit Avenue and West Clifton Boulevard. The home was sold and the property became the site of St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

After her husband's death Fannie moved into the Southern terrace for a few years. She passed away in 1929 at the Westlake Hotel in Rocky River, Ohio. The Southern Family is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Cleveland.

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Updated 24 August 2014