History of the West Park

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

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The Teare Farm
by Gary Swilik
(more photographs follow this article)

By 1950 the formerly independent city of West Park had been part of Cleveland for over twenty-five years. Homes and businesses had replaced fields and pastures. One of the few farms still existing in the area belonged to Howard Teare. The homestead stood at what is today the intersection of West 150th and Emery Avenue.

George and Clara (Herrington) Teare. Photo courtesy of La Vern Archer.The Teare Family emigrated from the Isle of Man, in the British Isles, to Cuyahoga County, Ohio in the 1800's. The family arrived in Rockport Township, later West Park, when George Teare married local woman Clara Winter in 1886. Clara was the granddaughter of one of our earliest settlers, Lewis B. Herrington. In fact, West 150th was originally named Herrington Road.  (Right:  George and Clara Teare. Photo courtesy of La Verne Archer)

George and Clara Winter Teare's first child, Alma, was born in 1888. Their second and last child, Howard John Teare, was born in 1894 at the Rockport Inn which had been built by the Herrington Family in 1860. The Inn stood on Lorain Avenue just east of the present fire station. On cold mornings little Howard would dress by the hot stove in the tavern dining room.

George Teare also built a round, wooden building behind the Inn which became known as the Rockport Club House, apparently a private horse stable and small indoor trotting track. Generations of early West Parkers would later come to know the structure as the "roundhouse," a place where parties were held that occasionally got a bit wild. More than one local senior has told the author about either going to such events or peeking in on them. It stood until the 1950's.

By the early 1900's the Teare's had established a farm on the east side of West 150th, about a half mile south of Lorain Avenue on former Herrington property. Land records show it included a barn, chicken coop, and eight sheds of various sizes. It was here that George Teare, and his son Howard, made a name for themselves training horses to race at the Rockport Driving Park at Rocky River Drive and Lorain, once one of the most prominent tracks in the country.

The oldest Teare child, Alma, grew up, became an operator for the telephone company, and married Curt G. Stock on March 27, 1917. The couple resided in a house at 3629 Rockport Avenue in West Park. Alma passed away in 1934 without having any children.

Young Howard Teare married Clara Stroemple, from a large Berea family, on February 10, 1917. (Howard's mother and wife were both named 'Clara.') They took up residence in a second house on the Teare Farm, next to the home of Howard's parents, and had one child, Dorothy June, born in about 1918, Through the years Howard pursued a number of careers. He was a trucker, part owner of a coal company, and an excavating contractor but he continued to help work the farm and train horses.

"At one time my grandfather (Howard) and great-grandfather (George) had as many at 80 to 100 horses they were training on their farm," recalls William H. Walter, of Broadview Heights, Ohio. "The men that worked with the horses were called 'muleskinners.' My grandmother Clara would cook for all of them. Eventually she opened a restaurant at West 150th and Lorain."

The restaurant Clara (wife of Howard) opened was called 'Clara's Lunch' and stood on the northeast corner of West 150th and Lorain, near Corrigan's Funeral Home. In later years it came under new ownership and was known as "Waldo's." The building is no longer standing.

The Rockport track closed in about 1921 ending the local demand for race horses. The Teare's, however continued to farm the land and keep livestock. Their horse-driven wagons and equipment were still sometimes used in local construction projects. The Teare's also rented space in their barn to other horse owners.

The marriage of Howard and Clara Teare came to an end when they were divorced in 1930. Howard then moved into the house with his parents, at 4067 West 150th, and the family rented out the other home, located at 4073 West 150th.

Robert S. Montgomery, of North Royalton, remembers the years when his family lived on the Teare Farm. "There were two homes side-by-side," says Mr. Montgomery. "My family rented one of them from 1935 to 1940. The Teare Family lived in the other one. I got to grow up in a farm-like atmosphere within the city."

"Mr. Teare, that would be George, raised trotting horses," continues Mr. Montgomery. "His horses used to run at the race track at Rocky River Drive but that was before my time. They still had a couple of trotters and I remember riding in a sulky with Mr. Teare. He had a quarter mile training track though it was mostly a cornfield by then. When my mother wanted to learn to drive, my father had her drive our 1927 Dodge around the trotting track right there on the farm."

"The Teare's used to let me ride their big old work horse bareback around Sweeney's Pasture, an open field back of the farm," recalls Mr. Montgomery. "I used to have to find a stump to be able to climb up on his back."

Robert E. Baus, now of Brooklyn, Ohio, grew up nearby on West 150th Street and was acquainted with the Teare Family.

"I didn't see the race track on the farm but I recall my family talking about it," says Mr. Baus. "It may have been just a muddy circle for all I know. I was not even a teenager at the time. There were two house of the same type next to each other on the Teare Farm, with a lot of space around them. There was nothing between the railroad and their houses. And there was nothing else on West 150th for a long way south."

"When I walked to Marshall high school, I went north on West 150th," Mr. Baus tells us, "then cut between the Teare houses to get to West 143rd. Emery Road wasn't there then. There was an old man who lived in one of the sheds on the Teare Farm heated by a pot belly stove. He was called simply "George." I never heard his last name. But he was a different person than George Teare and not a member of the family. I would visit with him sometimes. I think he helped out on the farm. I don't recall any crops but this old gentleman who lived in the shed would often be carrying food to farm animals."

Bob Montgomery also recalls the little shack with the resident farmhand.

"The farm consisted of a big barn with stalls for horses or cattle," says Mr. Montgomery. "There was a blacksmith shop much of which hadn't been used in years. And a shanty that usually some older, down-on-his-luck fellow lived in. A guy lived in it named 'Old George.' Later a guy called 'Old John' lived in the same shed.

The hard times in the late 1920s and 1930s forced some changes at the Teare Farm.

"They had to sell part of their land in the depression and all those houses were built behind the farm," explains Howard's grandson William Walter.

The head of the family, George Teare, passed away in 1936. His wife, Clare Herrington Teare, died in 1942. Residential development gradually encroached on the eastern end of the property.

Howard Teare remarried sometime in the early 1940's. His second wife was Laura Murphy.

By the late 1947, Howard Teare was a "city farmer," living on the single remaining acre of the once extensive farm. He was working in an engraving plant but still grew his own sweet corn. He also raised a few pigs for bacon and sausage, and chickens, chiefly for the eggs, which he sold at work.

Teare houseIn the early 1950's, Emery Avenue, which used to run only as far west as West 143rd, was cut all the way through to West 150th, leaving what was left of the Teare Farm sitting on a busy corner.  (Left: The Teare farm house in its final days. c1950's. One of two houses that stood on the property. Photo from the Gary Swilik collection.)

Howard Teare passed away in December, 1952. His widow Laura eventually sold the property. The remaining farm land soon became the site of commercial development.  Today a car repair shop, All Foreign & Domestic Auto Service, marks the former northwest corner of the Teare property. The Progressive Plastics plant, on the south side of Emery Avenue, covers the central portion of the old Teare Farm.

The Teare Family is buried in Alger Cemetery, a few hundred feet south of where many of their finely trained race horses once thundered around the track at the Rockport Driving Park.


Left:  George Teare, husband of Clara Winter Teare, with granddaughter, June Teare. Circa 1927. Courtesy of Mrs. Virginia Herrington Mohr.
Right:  Back row - Howard Teare & wife, Clara Stroemple Teare.  Front row - Mrs. Clara Winter Teare, wife of George and mother of Howard. Circa 1927. Courtesy of Mrs. Virginia Herrington Mohr.

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Maintained by: Charles C. Chaney
16 June 2014