History of the West Park
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
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GENERAL HISTORY OF EARLIER SCHOOLS (including John Marshall High School)
GEORGE WASHINGTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
NEWTON D. BAKER SCHOOL OF ARTS
CLARA E. WESTROPP FUNDAMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER
The site of Rockport Township's only high school and town hall was just east of the Cleveland Fire Station #39 (15637 Lorain) on the south side of Lorain Avenue. It was a two room, two story brick building, housing both the high school and the grade school plus the town hall. The lower grades were taught in the first floor room while high school classes were in the upstairs room. Called the Central High School, it also served as the Village Town Hall and Court House. It housed the Mayor's office and a basement jail. When a larger school building was needed, Central High School was constructed at 15149 Lorain Avenue. The property was purchased from the Alger family, for the $1,000. The first structure, built in 1899 at a cost of $8,000, had four classrooms. One room was used for the high school while other three rooms were the grade school.
Meanwhile the old school building at 15619 Lorain survived until it was seriously damaged by a storm in 1913. It was demolished and a new building constructed on the site, opening in 1917, to house the First District Police Station. The station was moved to new facilities at West 130th Street and West Avenue in the 1970s. The 1917 building was torn down in 1977.
The site just east of the Police Station was where the Old Lorain Street House, or Rockport Inn, once stood and is, in 1997, a parking lot. Old Lorain Street House was one of the rest stops for travelers just across the street from the Sherman House.
Sometime between 1899 and 1910, Central High School was renamed Lincoln High School. When Rockport Village was renamed West Park, the school became West Park High School. In 1911, an addition was needed so an adjacent acre and a half of land was purchased for $250.00. When the addition was completed, a new section of roof was built over the old building. When the front addition was added, the cornerstone was cornerstone relocated to the rear of the property. A gymnasium was built at about the same time. It was connected to the east side of the school by covered passages from the basement of the main building. The gymnasium was once the home of the West Park YMCA.
When West Park was annexed to Cleveland in 1923, the lower grades were moved into the new George Washington Elementary School. West Park High School was renamed John Marshall High School in honor of John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835. In 1926 the 7th and 8th grades were moved back to the old school.
The building was renamed A. B. Hart School in 1931. John Marshall High School moved to its new building at 3952 West 140th Street, in 1932.
The property was purchased and occupied by Leopold Furniture Company in 1946. The company was founded in 1859 at Fulton Road and Lorain Avenue. It later relocated to the southwest corner of Lorain Avenue and West 30th Street. In 1946 the business moved into the former John Marshal High School building. A showroom was added to the front of the building when the company renovated it. The location later, in 1997, housed the used car facility of Bill Lake Buick.
The George Washington Elementary School was built on the south end of the site of the Rockport Hamlet Driving Park in 1923. The school building was closed in 1980. In 1983, the old school building was the office headquarters for Aristocrat Management Service Inc. By 1997, several offices occupied the building. A Long John Silvers fish restaurant was constructed in front of the property facing Lorain Avenue. The restaurant building was razed in 2003 and a new building housing Dunkiní Donuts and Baskin-Robbins was constructed. Dunkiní Donuts had moved from the southeast corner of Lorain Avenue and Rocky River Drive.
When West Park was annexed by Cleveland in 1923, the Newton D. Baker Junior High School was built on the north end of the site of the Rockport Hamlet Driving Park. It was named in honor of Newton Diehl Baker, a former Mayor of Cleveland, 1912-1915.
Newton Diehl Baker was born in 1871, at Martinsburg, West Virginia. Educated at Johns Hopkins University and Washington University, he came to Cleveland at the turn of the century. He drew public attention as the city solicitor for Tom L. Johnson Mayor of Cleveland 1902-1913, and became known as the mayor's right-hand man.
In 1915, President Woodrow Wilson asked then Mayor Baker to join his cabinet. Baker served as Secretary of War during the first World War. His policy of training and sending the largest number of men in the shortest time overwhelmed the enemy and contributed to the victory of the Allies.
NOTE: Colleen Carr, who attended George Washington, Newton D. Baker, and John Marshall schools from 1957-1970, has posted some class information on a website, Alumni Archive, at http://www.johnmarshall1970.com/1964/1964index.html.
Born in 1886, of Irish and German parents, Clara E. Westropp grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Old West High School. She began her working life as Executive Secretary at Women's Savings and Loan, later Women's Federal, in the early 1900's. She advanced to Executive Vice President and was named President in 1957.
Her older sister, Lillian, was a co-founder of the bank as well as a prominent lawyer and a Municipal Court Judge. She served on the Executive Board of both the Cleveland Bar Association and the County Democratic Club.
Clara was organized the 52 Club to support the Holy Family Cancer Home in Parma and was a leader of the Red Cross. She was a member of the National Council of Catholic Women, the Ladies Benevolent Association and the Cleveland Business and Professional Women's Club. She considered her greatest honor to be The Papal Medal conferred by Pope Pius XII in 1954 "Pro Ecclesiaet Pontiface".
The Westropp sisters promoted non-discrimination against women in mortgage application. Eventually, federal regulations enforced this principle. Women's Federal was one of the few lenders to finance single women home buyers, or to include a wife's salary as qualifications for an approval.
Garfield Elementary is located at 3800 West 140th Street .
Charles C. Chaney