The Tyler Estate
Millionaire's Row Comes to West Park
By James R. Foos
At one time West Park was home to a magnificent country estate of such size and opulence it invites comparison to Cleveland's famed "Millionaire's Row" along Euclid Avenue. The busy motorists who pass by the ancient-looking stone gates every day give them barely a second glance but, for those with an appreciation for history, they represent the entrance to another era.
Washington S. Tyler, born in 1835, was a native of Ohio City. He founded the Cleveland Wire Works and became so successful he was soon among the city's wealthiest businessmen and philanthropists. In 1892 he began building his summer home, called "Woodside Farms," centered on a hill overlooking the valley at 3300 Rocky River Drive.
Encompassing well over 200 acres it extended from what is now St. Joseph Academy on the south to Niagara Avenue on the north. It also included land on the east side of Rocky River Drive from Munn Road to Edgecliffe Avenue, as well as acreage across the river on the west bank.
The estate was a working farm, considered a "gentleman's hobby" at the time, with poultry houses, bull pens, livestock, pastures, greenhouses, vineyards, orchards, lily ponds, and formal flower and vegetable gardens.
In addition to the Tyler mansion, the estate included another large home built for Mr. Tyler's son-in-law and daughter. This home stood at the end of what is now Amber Drive. Also featured were a swimming pool, creamery, florist cottage, carriage house, workers' homes, an octagonal barn, and a water tower.
Mr. Tyler passed away in 1917 and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Cleveland. In 1921, Marion Tyler, Washington's widow, donated 75 acres to the Cleveland Parks Board, forerunner of today's Cleveland Metroparks.
Woodside Farms began to decline in the early 1940's and there was no family interest in living at the estate. What was once a remote and rural summer retreat in the Hamlet of Rockport was soon surrounded by a growing city neighborhood.
In 1944, local businessman William E. Asplin, of the Asplin Basket Company at West 150th and Lorain Avenue, purchased the remaining farm property from the estate of Mrs. Tyler for the then-large sum of $44,000. It was Mr. Asplin who developed Amber Drive and several of the valley side home sites.
Tyler's well-know "Green Barn" down in the Metroparks has been restored and is now recognized with an historical marker. The stone pillars on either side of the main entrance to the Tyler mansion can still be seen on the west side of Rocky River Drive about 80 yards north of Munn Road. Another set of pillars, marking the entrance to the home of Tyler's daughter, stand immediately north of Amber Drive.
The author, James Reed Foos, Jr., is a founding member of the West Park Historical Society and the world's foremost authority on the Tyler Estate. It has been his hobby and passion for many years. He has located and interviewed members of the Tyler Family and his personal collection includes many never-published photos, charts and maps. He enjoys giving talks and presentations on the Tyler Estate and is always glad to hear from those with additional information, memories and photos. You can contact him at 216-251-9482. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Updated 22 August 2014