History of the West Park
Neighborhood

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

PLACES GONE
now only memory & history

some places no longer existing from "way back" and not so "way back"

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17th Precinct Police Station (City Hall)
The Asplin Basket Company
Bearden's Drive-In
Caboose Diner
Daniel's Colonial Restaurant
Diney's Drive In
Golden Point Drive in Restaurant

Hollywood Cleaners
Kamm's Barber shop & Optometrist office
Kenny King's Drive In
Kroger Company
Nagy's Towne House
Nick's Restaurant (earlier Josephine's)
Olympic Recreation
The Orange Hut
Puritas Springs Park

Regnatz Dining Hall
Rexall Drug
Riverside Theatre
Rockport Hamlet Driving Park
Rockport House, a hotel, c 1874
Rockport Inn (Lorain Street House, Fischer Roadhouse,
                                   Paddy Barrett's Old Homestead)
1740-3792 Rocky River Dr. - houses
Rolling Stone Teen Club
Royal Castle
The Smallest Schoolhouse in Cleveland, c1923
The Teare Farm
Tony's Diner
Towne Drive In & Diner
Vee's Freeze
Victory Diner
Walker's Store
West Park Post Office, W. 117th
West Park Theatre
Woodbury Avenue at W. 150th

Diners and Restaurants of Old West Park
Greenhouses
Neighborhood & Corner Stores menu

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THE 17th PRECINCT POLICE STATION

West Park Town Hall as it looked in January, 1916. Courtesy of Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library.The 17th Precinct Police Station at 15619 Lorain, near where Triskett meets Lorain, stood just east of the building Fire Department Engine Co. No, 39, at 15637 Lorain. That area was then the busiest area of West Park including roadhouses or restaurants.  Not only was the Sherman House across Lorain but just to the east was The Lorain Street House, later known as the Rockport Inn.  The police station was built on a site that previously held a two-room, two-story brick building.  Built about 1867, it housed a high school and grade school as well as the town hall.  The lower classes were conducted on the first floor.  The high school was conducted and the town affairs tended to on the second floor.  (In 1899, property was acquired further east on Lorain and a new school erected.  Named Central High School it went through several transformations.  When West Park was annexed by Cleveland, the school became John Marshall High School and, later, A. B. Hart School.  In 1946 the building was purchased by Leopold Furniture Store.  The front area is now the location of Lake Buick Used Cars.  The school building can still be seen behind an addition across it front facade.)

West Park Town Hall and the Fire Dept from the west, February 1922. Courtesy of Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library.The original fire house has recently been added to but the original still exists.  The police station house was initially used as the West Park Village Hall.  It housed the mayor's office, court house, and jail cells in the basement.   In the early 1970's, when it had become the 1st District Police Station, the city decided to relocate to a new building on West 130th Street and West Avenue.  The original police station was later demolished.  The addition to the fire station would later cover some of the original site.

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THE ASPLIN BASKET COMPANY
3776 West 150th Street
Southwest corner of West 150th Street & Lorain Avenue

      This was evidently once a veterinarians office.
The buildings that had housed Asplin Basket Company.  1961
(Click images to see larger picture.)

The Asplin Basket Company was in business for over fifty years right in the heart of West Park yet many folks, including the author, were entirely unaware of its existence. The company seems to have kept a low profile turning out strictly “working” baskets for use by local vegetable farmers.

Not a great deal has been publicly recorded about the Asplin Company but there’s no doubt they were already in business as early as 1920 and likely quite a bit earlier. The enterprise was founded by William E. Asplin who was born in Ohio about 1886. The company was located on the southwest corner of West 150th and Lorain where it grew to occupy a conglomeration of at least six buildings and several smaller work sheds.

During the 1920’s and part of the 1930’s the business office was centered just west of West 150th at 15101 Lorain where Blockbuster Video stands today. Later this Lorain Avenue address became a car sales agency and the Asplin Basket Company office was relocated south and slightly east to 3776 West 150th Street. William Asplin apparently continued to manufacture baskets from this location right up until the 1970’s, finally ceasing operation by 1977.

Baskets weren’t Mr. Asplin’s only article of trade. During the holidays the large warehouse was used to sell Christmas trees which were shipped to Cleveland from the Adirondacks.

But baskets were the company’s mainstay, and must have been in great demand, because at one time there were Asplin Basket Company branches in Chardon, Garrettsville, and Hartville, Ohio, as well as Cleveland, for a total of four locations! This was a big operation!

As the Asplin Basket Company in Cleveland aged it seems to have begun renting unused space to other businesses. Cal Lee Moving & Storage and the Barrow Sign Company, at 3770 and 3780 West 150th respectively, were operating in former basket company buildings by 1960.

To more precisely locate the basket company for older West Parkers who, like me, are puzzled why they can’t recall the place, the office and buildings stood along the west side of West 150th, immediately south of the CEI substation on the southwest corner of Lorain, and extended south to where the Veterinary Hospital of Dr. John Burrell was once situated. (Probably a lot of older residents remember this vet’s office.)

Today all the old buildings, including the aforementioned vet’s office, are gone. Using current landmarks, the Asplin Basket Company covered the general area now occupied by the buildings and parking lots of Blockbuster Video, Taco Bell, and McDonald’s.

In fact, though no more baskets are produced the official business entity of “Wm. E. Asplin Inc.” still exists and leases the property to Blockbuster, Taco Bell, and McDonald’s on a long-term basis.

William Asplin and his wife, Josephine, resided only a few minutes away from the basket company at 3690 West Park Avenue where their former home can be still be seen. Mr. Asplin passed away in his nineties in 1984.

The Asplin Basket Company branch in Hartville, originally built in 1928, also still exists – sort of. In 1974 the late Dave Longaberger began renting the facilities of the still-operating Asplin Company in Hartville to produce his world-famous collectible hardwood baskets. In 1983 Mr. Longaberger bought the Asplin plant outright but it burned down before the deed was finalized! Undaunted, he rebuilt the facility and this location is still a branch of Longaberger Baskets today.

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Memories of Asplin Basket Factory


THE CABOOSE DINER
4000 West 150th Street

This small diner owned by Abe Abraham was located in what had been a railroad coal loading building.  It was located on the south side of Chatfield Avenue on West 150th.  Many of the customers were truck drivers and railroad workers who readily shared many interesting stories. It was demolished when the bridge over the railroad tracks was constructed about 1965.  Abe then opened "The Man in the Brown Suit Restaurant" at Puritas Avenue and West 147th Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Swilik located an advertisement from November 1959.  A photograph taken in the late 1950's or early 1960's does not seem to depict a caboose

 

 

 

 

 

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DANIEL'S COLONIAL RESTAURANT
17425 Lorain Avenue

 
                        Photo c.1961                                                          An earlier view when the building
                                                                                        housed Blain Dairy

Daniel's Colonial Restaurant, owned by Dan and Freda Daniels, was at 17425 Lorain Avenue, on the south side of the street, just a bit west of the current Charter One Bank. Built in 1924, the structure once served as home to the old Blain Dairy. The building was apparently torn down in the early 60's. Today the site is empty.

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DINEY'S DRIVE IN
3100 West 117th Street

Diney's Drive In, 3100 West 117th Street. Owned by Fred "Diney" Spachtholz and his wife, Helen, this is among the most fondly remembered hangouts in West Park. This black & white photo showing the place empty during the day does not do justice to the memories. At night bright bands of colored neon illuminated the building like an amusement park! Carhops brought delicious hamburgers and shakes out to your vehicle. From 1949 to 1976 this was among the most popular eating places on the west side of Cleveland. It was torn down to make way for Interstate 90.

Comments & memories

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GOLDEN POINT DRIVE IN RESTAURANT
14810 Puritas Avenue


Photo c1976

The Golden Point Drive In Restaurant, built in 1960 at 14810 Puritas Avenue, was on the north side of the street on the same spot where Canary Restaurant stands today. This was a franchise operation and probably the first official "fast food" to appear in our area, beating McDonald's by a few years. Hamburgers, fish sandwiches, French fries and milk shakes were the main fare. The tiles on the roof were a fire-engine red but the crowning touch was a dramatic "golden point" rising 50 feet or more above the building. These details are lost in our 1976 black-and-white photo as the "point" had been removed by this time and the building is vacant. From about 1968 to 74 the place operated as PDQ Hamburgers. In 1976 the vacant building was sold to Pizza Hut, the old drive-in was demolished, and a new building put up on the site. It was home first to Pizza Hut, then the Gourmé Family Restaurant, and finally Canary's which it remains today.

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HOLLYWOOD CLEANERS
13951 Triskett Road at West 140th Street

Hollywood Cleaners, c1960.      Hollywood Cleaners, September 2004.  Photograph by Charles C. Chaney
                                  Photo c1960.                                  Photograph by Charles C. Chaney. September 2004.

Hollywood Cleaners has been replaced by a Holland Oil Co. food mart and Citgo gasoline station.  Hollywood Cleaners closed late in 2003 when road work on West 140th street accidentally struck a gas line causing what was supposed to be a temporary closing---but the business never reopened.  The building was razed in February 2005.

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KENNY KING'S DRIVE IN
3200 West 117th Street

Kenny King's Drive In, built in 1950, stood at 3200 West 117th very close to Diney's. In the 1950's, it wasn't McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's. No, in those days Kenny King's and Manner's were the hamburger chain giants! And the huge King Steakburger was a real contender. This was also a very popular restaurant with children. Kids who "licked their plates clean," as verified by their waitress, could choose a free toy from the "Treasure Chest." The toys were nice! For years this author had his carved wood "Indian in Canoe" on his bedroom window sill. In 1976, Kenny King's was another victim of Interstate 90.

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KROGER COMPANY


Kroger's can be seen in this late 1930's photograph. Click on image to enlarge.

After the West Park Theatre building at 17001 Lorain Avenue was demolished, a new building was erected to house the Kroger Company Grocery Store which had been located a few doors to the west (See photograph above).  The new store attracted people from all over the west side of Cleveland because it did not have doors.  Overhead heaters warmed the entranceway so that doors were not needed even in January.

In the 1970's the store closed, and the building became the home of the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services until late 1982.  The building was remodeled into a popular dance hall called the Palomino Club.  The building was among the buildings demolished in order to construct a Walgreen's Drugstore in 1996.

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NAGY'S TOWNE HOUSE
4735 Rocky River Drive

Nagy's Towne House was located on the southeast corner of Brysdale Avenue and Rocky River Drive, at the southern end near Brookpark Road. It opened about 1953, a joint business venture run by Otto Mahler and Mr. Gwynne Pearsall. Otto Mahler was a well-known businessman in Berea where he ran Gray's Candy Kitchen for 43 years. By 1957 the restaurant was run by Joseph E. and Margaret Nagy, officially becoming "Nagy's Towne House," which it remained until 1971. Then began a dizzying succession of owners and name changes as follows: Brooks Towne House, c.1972-76; Sandi Pauls, c.1977; Sofiano's, c.1978-84; Prince Family Restaurant, c.1986-1987. Then in 1988 the building became the home of Sam Zarife's Shop & Save store, which closed in 1998 to make way for the planned expansion of Cleveland Hopkins Airport. The building was demolished sometime after 1999 along with 400 homes and several businesses in the area. Brysdale Avenue has been virtually eliminated. The restaurant site is vacant and owned by the City of Cleveland in hope of future development.

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NICK'S RESTAURANT
14137 Lorain Avenue
(south side of Lorain between the current Marco's Pizza and Burger King)


Photo c1961

Nick's Restaurant was located on the south side of Lorain between the current Marco's Pizza on the east and Burger King on the west. In the 1940's John and Josephine Heffenfelder lived on the site in a private residence. Sometime between 1942 and 1950 they built the restaurant in what seems to have been literally their front yard. Originally known as "Josephine's Restaurant" it was open until about 1953. Then it was vacant for a year or two before Mrs. Heffenfelder rented it to Frank Grande who operated "Grande Restaurant" for a couple of years. In 1955, Nicholas and Maria Boich bought the property and opened "Nick's Restaurant" as shown in our 1961 photo. Nick's was open from about 1955 to 1964. Then the building was home to, first, Ed's Electronic Service - Radio & Television, and then a small laundry, before being demolished in about 1966/67. The author has to have passed this little lunch room hundreds of times in his early life but can't recall it at all. Can anyone help?

The year is 1950. We're looking east down the south side of Lorain Avenue toward West 140th in the misty distance. The building in the foreground is a tavern but see the simple, unadorned "LUNCH" sign? It refers to Josephine Heffenfelder's Restaurant, just out of sight to the right behind the tavern. In 1955, "Josephine's" became Nick's Restaurant. (See 1961 photo, above.)

            For a more extensive article go to Nick's Restaurant by Gary Swilik.

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OLYMPIC RECREATION
by Gary Swilik
 

Today the northwest corner of Lorain Avenue and West 176th Street is a quiet parking lot for nearby Fairview Hospital. For many years, however, it was the site of Olympic Recreation, a distinctive, one-story building filled with the muffled thump and rumble of tenpins sent bouncing across polished wood lanes and the happy din of families having a good time together. Bowling was the name of the game and this Kamm's Corner landmark was the place to enjoy it!

Bowling is a family activity now but it wasn't always so. And a lot of the credit for the change goes to our good neighbors Bob and Lucille Barthelman, who planned and built Olympic Recreation.

The Barthelman's are one of our earliest families. In 1876 German immigrant Johann Barthelman bought a large tract of land in the area of Lorain and Rocky River Drive. In 1888, Johann's son Frederick acquired the property and built his family a spacious farm house on the south side of Lorain about where Steak N Shake is today.

Frederick's son, Henry Barthelman would go on to become a well-known local businessman, founding the Barthelman Dairy and building a chain of greenhouses that became one of the largest indoor tomato producers in the country.

Finally we come to Henry's son, Robert "Bob" Barthelman, who was born in 1912 on the dining room table in his grandfather's house on Lorain Avenue.

During their dating years, Bob and his future wife Lucille enjoyed dancing and bowling. Finding a nice place to dance was not difficult. Finding a place to bowl where a lady would feel comfortable was quite a different matter! Bowling was a man's game, played in smoky bars on two to four lanes provided for the entertainment of the often tipsy clientele.

Bob and Lucille, now married, envisioned a setting in which everyone could bowl, with up to date amenities for woman and room for families to get together. Two obstacles nearly blocked their dream from becoming reality - money and competition.

Banks were not anxious to finance a bowling alley. Even Bob's father, Henry, was reluctant to help, preferring his son join him in the greenhouse business. More discouraging yet, another group of entrepreneurs began building a bowling alley at the corner of Rocky Drive and Albers Avenue, right in Bob and Lucille's neighborhood! The Barthelman's almost gave up.

As it turned out, the competition helped. When yet a third group approached Henry Barthelman for money to open a bowling alley, he decided it might be a good business after all and helped finance his son Bob's project. At regular bank interest rates, of course!

Construction began early in 1939. When Olympic Recreation opened at the end of the year, at a total cost of about $50,000, the Barthelman's had succeeded in creating one of the first family-oriented bowling recreation centers in the country.

The building was equipped with the most modern heating and ventilation systems. Acoustically designed ceilings and walls rose high over twelve, well-lit, modern lanes - an impressive number for that era. A soda fountain offered soft drinks, milk shakes, and excellent food. Nice bathrooms, separate locker rooms for men and women, and a lounge with soft chairs and couches for "ladies league" meetings, created an environment where families felt comfortable.

The "pin boys" even had their own bathroom. In the early years before pin-setting machines were installed, pins were set by hand after every ball! Hard-working pin boys had to get their job done and get out of the way!

Even the exterior of Olympic Recreation was unique, with a striking art deco look that appeared to be smooth, cream-colored glass with contrasting black bands across the front, around the windows, and along the roof line. In fact, the front was glass!

“In the early ‘60’s I remember one of the glass panels was broken and I glued it back in place with a tar-like material." says Bob & Lucille’s first son, Lee. Known as "Carrara Glass" and applied like a veneer, it was a building material popular in the early 20th century.

For the next three decades, under the direction of Bob and Lucille Barthelman, Olympic Recreation drew families from West Park and beyond. As their advertising stated, this was truly the place "where the family bowls!"

Understandably business slowed during World War II. This prompted Bob to open The Polar Bar ice cream stand on the south side of Lorain Avenue nearly opposite the bowling alley.

Barry, the second of Bob and Lucille's three sons, explains that "during the war years a bowling alley wasn't very busy, especially in the summer. With two kids, a house, and a large business loan, dad worked at the family greenhouses in the winter and sold ice cream in the summers until bowling picked up again. By 1950 the alleys required 100% of dad's time and he closed the Polar Bar."

Olympic Recreation attracted bowling celebrities as well as locals. In the 1950's, legendary bowler Don Carter, first president of the Professional Bowlers Association, made an appearance there. Sam Levine, publisher of The Cleveland Kegler bowling news, creator of the first radio and TV bowling shows and one of the games greatest promoters, showed up at the Olympic, too. Champion bowler and trick-shot artist Andy Varipapa also did shows there, astonishing the audience by bowling through chairs, and even wine glasses, set up on the alleys. Olympic Recreation was a busy, popular place.

So why isn't Olympic Recreation still there? Part of the reason can be attributed to the very revolution the Barthelman's helped start – bowling grew into a tremendously popular family activity throughout the 1950's, calling for ever bigger facilities to accommodate the crowds. Bowling alleys with 50 lanes and more were being built further out in the suburbs. Fancy restaurants, pool tables, laundromats, even barbershops, were included in some of these colossal new bowling centers.

Competing with such services was tough, Bob was getting older, and his sons were pursuing blossoming careers in other fields. Bob was also now active in the family tomato-growing business, serving as president of the United Greenhouse Company. In September, 1972, with limited time and energy to devote to the enterprise, the Barthelman's decided it was time to sell Olympic Recreation.

The new owner kept Olympic going for almost ten years, but eventually the property was sold to Fairview Hospital which demolished the building in the late 1980s for parking space.

Olympic Recreation is long gone but the contributions the Barthelman's made to West Park, and the change they brought to the image of bowling, will not be forgotten. Suggesting the sport is anything other than a wholesome family activity would draw nothing but puzzled looks these days.

Bob and Lucille Barthelman (right) had many years of delightful retirement and now reside at Belvedere of Westlake. Their son's families are still in the Cleveland area along with six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. On August 6, 2005, Bob and Lucille Barthelman celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary!

Bob Barthelman passed away in April, 2008, at 95 years of age.

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THE ORANGE HUT
by Gary Swilik

Older photo (Left) provided by Kathy Steenstra.  Current (2004) photo by Charles C. Chaney.  In the older photo, notice the late 1950's Studebaker Hawk parked on the sidewalk.  A mid-1950's Pontiac is in the Orange Hut parking lot.
Older photo (Left) provided by Kathy Steenstra. Current (2004) photo by Charles C. Chaney.
In the older photo, notice the late 1950's Studebaker Hawk parked on the sidewalk.
A mid-1950's Pontiac is in the Orange Hut parking lot.

The Orange Hut seems to be well-remembered even by folks who never sampled any of its home-cooked meals or dairy treats. Maybe it was the prominent location on the south side of busy Lorain Avenue and West 158th Street. Or it might have been the distinctive orange roof. Or even the fact that its public drinking fountain was so readily available to thirsty bike-riders passing by.

Most likely it’s a combination of all these things plus the Orange Hut’s picture-perfect image as an old-fashioned neighborhood ice-cream stand and diner, popular in the days before fast-food meant the same food, in the same place, all across the country.Paul Orange

Not many folks realize The Orange Hut was named not only for its appearance but for its owner as well. Paul Orange (photo, right) was, by most accounts, an outgoing guy who enjoyed talking and visiting with folks as much as he enjoyed providing fine food. He came from a family of entrepreneurs, one of his brothers being the founder of Bearden’s Restaurants and another brother the publisher of the local Orange Line Directories. But we’re getting ahead of the story…Rexall>

The future location of The Orange Hut, on the southeast corner of Lorain and West 158th Street, was home to a Standard Oil gas station in the 1930’s. Not the fancy emporiums of today but merely a garage-sized metal shed with a few pumps in front, properly called a “filling station.” By the early fifties the site was a small used car lot. Then, in about 1955, the property was cleared to make room for a new “Tastee Freez” custard stand. Sometime not long after that, Paul Orange spied this small ice-cream parlor and decided he could do it better!

On May 15, 1958, Paul took control of the property and put his plan into operation. By November, he had revamped the place to provide year-round service. He built an addition to make room for an inside serving bar, with old-fashioned round stools, while maintaining the original window service. The Orange Hut was open for business with Paul working the counter from dawn to well past dusk. Supporting Paul in his enterprise was his wife, Mabel, or “Masie,” as she insisted on being called.

The Orange Hut was open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. May through October. And from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from November through April. The long hours were fine with Paul, say his daughters Susan Cigahn and Kathy Steenstra.

“Paul loved the Orange Hut,” says Susan. “He stayed there from 6 a.m. to past 11 p.m.”

Kathy sees her father as “a people-person. He loved the business!”

Paul had imagination and wasn’t afraid to try serving something new. The menu was varied enough you could chose breakfast, lunch, or dinner while listening to the latest hits on the counter-top juke boxes. The “orange freeze,” created by Paul and his brother Al, was very popular. You could also try cooling down with a “grape smash” or “lemon slush.” This was long before slush-type drinks were the well-known item they’ve become today.

Paul served a steakburger that was pure, ground steak, prepared especially for the Hut. The recipe had been in the Orange Family since 1942. In 1969, he added fish-and-chips to the menu, served English-style in a paper cone.

Pleasant atmosphere was just as important as good food. Paul, and long-time employees Hazel Young and Mary Robertson, knew most of their customers by first-name. Bob Dudik, whose father-in-law Albert Yanus, opened Seven Seas Seafood next door to the Hut in 1964, recalls starting his day with breakfast at the Orange Hut then running across Lorain Avenue to Wilke’s Bakery for pastry.

By 1972 Paul Orange was beginning to feel the effects of such long hours. “He was getting older and having trouble with his knees,” explains daughter Kathy Steenstra.

In 1972 Paul & Mabel Orange sold the Orange Hut to another couple who continued to operate it until 1975, when it was again sold. There seems to be general agreement the food and ice cream were no longer up to their old standards. By about 1980 the establishment was operating as Pokey Jo’s Pizza, usually open only during the evenings, and doing little business.

In 1982 the Orange Hut building was bought by its neighbor, the late Albert Yanus, of Seven Seas Seafood, which expanded onto the site. The building was demolished and the lot excavated, leaving no trace of the original structure.

Paul and Mabel Orange stayed in the area, residing on Birchwood Avenue, long after the Orange Hut was just a memory. Paul passed away in 1988 and “Masie” in 1995. There’s still lots of great places to eat in West Park but The Orange Hut is fondly-remembered as our own charming example of the neighborhood diner.

(Click here for pictures provided by Kathy Steenstra, daughter of Orange Hut proprietor Paul Beach.)

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REGNATZ DINING HALL
By Gary Swilik

Regnatz Dining Hall, circa 1951.The main building of Regnatz's dining hall at 3242 Warren Road. From 1922 to 1941 thousands of greater Clevelanders enjoyed catered banquets and weddings here, danced to live music, and dined on Anton & Caroline Regnatz's famous chicken dinners. St. Mary's Romanian Church bought the nine-acre site in 1954 and built their new church at 3256 Warren Road. The Regnatz building served as the church social hall until July 8, 1974, when it burned to the ground.   (Photo circa 1951.)

   Visit the Cleveland Memory Project:  Photograph of Regnatz Dining Hall

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Rexall Drug Store on Puritas
14701 Puritas Avenue
By Jim Baechle

The Rexall Drug at the corner of Puritas and West 147th was a goldmine, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s. It was owned by Gus and Joe Betor. One of them was also the pharmacist. This was a place that could well have been in Mayberry, USA. An honest-to-goodness old fashioned soda fountain greeted you as you entered. You could order a chocolate coke, cherry phosphate or even a zombie, and they actually knew what those were.

You name it, this store had it! When kite season rolled around in early spring, all you had to do was go down one of the aisles, pick up the kite of your choice, rush home, create a long tail out of rags and let 'er fly! For all the fun we had, that kite had to set us back a good ten to twenty-five cents! Want a high quality cap pistol? There were lots to choose from in those great all-American days. And you didn't have to worry about political correctness and how harmful such toys just had to be.

Want the latest and greatest comic books or hot rod magazines? Take your pick. Need a gift for your wife or girlfriend? Try the perfume and jewelry counters. How about a "state-of-the-art" tube testing machine for early TV sets? Dad would often check our television tubes on that great device. Recall how popular model planes, cars, and battleships used to be? The choice at Rexall Drug was endless! Some of the model ships would eventually be launched on old Dryer's Pond south of Puritas Avenue. We'd attach firecrackers to the models, send them across the water and excitedly watch them blown to smithereens in a make-believe battle. Good clean fun and no one was ever harmed.

Man, the memories of that wonderful old Rexall Drug! There are so many events and occasions forever tied to it. Entire families, even kid's baseball teams, could be seen enjoying all that Gus and Joe had to offer at this wonderful neighborhood business. What a revelation it would be for many today if they could experience those times that were without doubt, the best!

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RIVERSIDE THEATRE


Photo by James L. Smith.  28 December 1960
(photo used with his permission)

Riverside Theatre & Kroger Grocery building - c1994. (Photo provided by Frank Durango.)  
                      Photo by Frank Durango c1994.                                        Riverside Theatre can be seen on the far left in
                                                                                                                        this late 1930's photo. Click image to enlarge.

  
Photographs from 1993, courtesy of Murray Evans and Margot LaRosa.


Alley next to the Riverside Theater (right). Looking north to Lorain Avenue.
Photograph circa 1993, courtesy of Murray Evans and Margot LaRosa

Mark Lefkowich built the larger Riverside Theatre at 16901 (then 16895) Lorain Avenue in c1937 to replace his earlier West Park Theatre.  The new building was designed for mixed usage, housing retail space in conjunction with a 1,200 seat theater.  Ray Dister opened a Jewelry Store in the retail space located at the front of the building.  In June of 1978, the theater was taken under the management umbrella of the Lowe Theater Chain.

The Riverside Theatre was later extensively remodeled so that two films could be shown simultaneously.  As movie houses appeared in suburban malls, those in the city became second run theaters with dwindling attendance.  In 1994, the Riverside was demolished and a Walgreen's Drugstore erected on its site. 

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Memories of The Riverside Theatre


ROCKPORT HOUSE, a hotel, c 1874.

From: Lake, D. J.  Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio / from actual surveys by and under the directions of D. J. Lake ; assisted by B. N. Griffing ... [et al.]  Philadelphia : Titus, Simmons & Titus, 1874.
From:  Lake, D. J.  Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio / from actual surveys by and under the directions of D. J. Lake ; assisted by B. N. Griffing ... [et al.]  Philadelphia : Titus, Simmons & Titus, 1874.

From: Lake, D. J. Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio / from actual surveys by and under the directions of D. J. Lake ; assisted by B. N. Griffing ... [et al.] Philadelphia : Titus, Simmons & Titus, 1874.

Operated by Frederick Minut at the northeast corner of Puritas and West 150th.

   
The Bomber Tavern later occupied the same site as the original Rockport House.  It appears that much of the original building was intact if somewhat altered.  The earlier photograph appears to have been taken in the late 1940's.  The color photograph was taken by Gary Swilik in January 2006.

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THE ROCKPORT INN
by Gary Swilik


The Inn during horse & buggy days when it was known as the Lorain Street House.

For almost one-hundred-years The Rockport Inn stood on Lorain Avenue offering weary travelers a good meal and a place to rest for the night. To generations of early Clevelanders it was a West Park landmark and popular meeting place. On racing days at the nearby Rockport horse-racing track the inn would be packed with racing fans.

Time moves on and today all traces of the inn are gone and the site has been demoted to a nondescript parking lot.

The exact spot where the inn stood is on the south side of Lorain, between the Fire Station on the west and the former Ohio Bell building on the east. The site is directly across the street from the doorway to the Ganley Dodge dealership on the north side of Lorain Avenue.

Built in 1860 by Lewis B. Herrington as both his family home and a tavern, the establishment was originally known as the Lorain Street House. Mr. Herrington, who settled in Rockport Township with his parents in 1824, was a member of one of West Park's pioneer families. In fact, West 150th Street was originally named Herrington Road. (Often spelled "Harrington" Road.) Sharp-eyed travelers might have noticed The Illuminating Company building on the southwest corner of Lorain and West 150th is still named the "Harrington Substation."

In the early years, the tavern had a separate entrance leading to a small dining hall for women, sparing them the indignity of tramping through the men's bar room.

Dances were held in this round building and, according to one old newspaper account, trotting horses training for their shot-at-fame on the Rockport Driving Track were once stabled there.

A picnic grove behind the inn (still there in the 1930's and 40's) was often the site of German and Swiss society celebrations, complete with cross-bow target practice!

Lewis Herrington ran the Lorain Street House for about 18 years, after which the business seems to have had a series of owners. By the 1920's it was the Fischer Roadhouse where Fred and Anna Fisher served home-cooked chicken dinners that were a neighborhood favorite.

In a newspaper interview in 1940, Mrs. Fischer recalled election day at the inn in November, 1922, when the voters decided West Park would become part of Cleveland. "The roadhouse was simply jammed with people," she said. "All of them cried when they learned the result of the election for West Park was no more."

Paddy Barrett's Old Homestead, c1939-1941. Courtesy of Special Collections, Cleveland State University Library.By 1934 the Cleveland City Directory listed the building as "vacant" but it did not stay that way long. The inn was purchased by Patrick E. Barrett, a former Cleveland fire warden, who renamed the place Paddy Barrett's Old Homestead.  The name "Old Homestead" was borrowed from a well-known play.

By the 1950's, Russell Manzatt had taken over operation of the enterprise and renamed it The Rockport Inn. Mr. Manzatt and his wife not only ran the establishment but lived there as well. By this time the inn had been strictly a dining and drinking establishment for many, many years rather than a hotel.


1957 Photo: Russell Manzatt (bottom left) stands in front of his Rockport Inn in about 1957. Hard to see how this is the same building from the earlier photo, isn't it?  Old plat maps reveal this must be the north side of the building, facing Lorain, while the older photo (above) is apparently the view from the south.

In 1957 the Ohio Bell Company bought the Rockport Inn, tore it down, and used the land as a parking lot for their new building just to the east. (The former Ohio Bell Building is now the Fairview West Park Center at 15531 Lorain Avenue.)

The old inn came to an end just three years short of its 100th birthday.

Fortunately we have photos of the Rockport Inn so we can satisfy our curiosity about what the place looked like. As with so many historic sites in West Park, photos will have to do.

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ROYAL CASTLE
By Gary Swilik

At the dawn of time, before McDonald’s and Burger King, where did you get a good hamburger when you were in a hurry? If you lived in Cleveland the answer is Royal Castle!

Over two dozen of these small restaurants, with the bright orange and white tile design, were located in Greater Cleveland. Invariably each establishment featured a row of revolving orange stools and a serving counter.

Their little hamburgers, about the size of a big cookie, were incredibly tasty and set you back only sixteen cents a piece! And a big mug of birch beer, kind of like strong root beer, was only a nickel! The giant frosted mugs were so cold it almost hurt to hold them but the frothy sweet drink was so good!

Though most folks recall the hamburgers you could also get breakfast at Royal Castle such as eggs, bacon, toast, and orange juice. There were no paper menus. The prices were set high into the gleaming white tile and ran along the wall behind the counter.

Takeout was half the business but you had to run in as the establishments did not have drive-up windows. They were conveniently open around-the-clock with huge glass windows and an incredibly bright interior that could look mighty inviting if you were hungry at 1 a.m.

Here in West Park, our first Royal Castle was near Kamm's Corners at 16804 Lorain Avenue across from the (present day) Walgreen's Drug. Of course, Walgreen's was the site of the Riverside Theater then. The Kamm's Royal Castle, as everyone knows, was home to Kathleen's Kitchen (photograph) from 1982 until April of 2006.  It is now a hot dog shop, Top Dog, which opened in June 2007. The Royal Castle name can still be seen in the terrazzo flooring at the entrance (right).

We also had a Royal Castle on the northwest corner of West 140th and Triskett Road (photograph). In 1962 all the kids in my neighborhood were thrilled as this new Royal Castle was being built only minutes from our homes. Hard to imagine now but at the time there was not any other fast food available in that area.

Today this Royal Castle houses one of those ubiquitous payday-loan shops but look close at the building and you’ll spot the bright orange bricks set randomly into the design, a remnant of its hamburger serving days.

So what happened to Royal Castle? Their downfall began when a new place opened up on the northeast corner of Triskett and West 139th, just down the street from the Royal Castle at West 140th. These new drive-ins had no inside seating at all and tall golden arches. Their hamburgers were bigger, tasted pretty good, and were only fifteen cents! Their French Fries were terrific!

Soon Royal Castle and the hamburger FIT FOR A KING had been deposed. In a small measure of justice, the old Royal Castle building on Triskett still stands but the newcomer down the street became one of the rare branches of McDonald’s to close. What was once the first McDonald's in the area is now a small landscaped plot at the entrance to the Triskett Rapid Station.

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THE SMALLEST SCHOOLHOUSE IN CLEVELAND, c1923.

Image based on an old newspaper illustration provided by Gary Swilik.

"This one-room school, heated by a single stove located right in the classroom, stood on Alger Road near Warren Road. When West Park was annexed in 1923, the building became the smallest school in the Cleveland system.

Today modern homes stand on the site of the old school house. The little school was located on the north side of Alger Road, approximately 436 feet NW of the intersection of Alger and Warren Rd. If you stand on the sidewalk, midway between home addresses 14804 and 14808 Alger Rd., and face north, you will be looking directly at the spot where the front of the school used to be."
 --
Gary Swilik.   (The illustration is based on an old newspaper illustration provided by Gary Swilik.)

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TONY'S DINER
West 117th Street and Lorain Avenue
by Gary Swilik


c1960.
The building was eventually moved to Port Clinton where it became Eddie's Diner.

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TOWNE DRIVE IN & DINER
13920 Triskett Road

The Towne Drive In and Diner stood at 13920 Triskett, on the northwest corner at West 139th Street. It was built and operated by Jacob & Marie Keller from 1946 to 1953/54. Then it was bought by Gwynne Pearsall and Otto Mahler, who also opened the Towne House Restaurant on Rocky River Drive about this time. In 1957, Louis Catavolos bought the diner and extensively remodeled it. Louis was a son of George Catavolos, a well-known member of Cleveland's Greek Community with a long history in the restaurant business. With that background Louis had the experience to run the diner successfully for several years. Two signature menu items were the "Big-Towne Deluxe Burger" and the "Texas Weiner." Louis sold the property to Shell Oil Company in 1961 only because they made an offer too good to pass up. The diner was demolished and the site became Triskett Shell Service for over 20 years. Today P C S Auto Repair stands on the site. Louis passed away in 2001. The Catavolos Family still owns coffee houses in the area and Louis' brother Pete Catavolos can be heard on WERE radio every Sunday morning hosting "The International Hour."

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VEE'S FREEZE
13950 Lorain Avenue


Photograph 1971. Barbara Unterzuber collection.

Vee's Freeze stood at 13950 Lorain Avenue and was owned by the late Genevieve "Vee" Krupa who passed away in 2006 at age 86.
The serving window was at the side of the building, below the sign, at far left.

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VICTORY DINER
West 140th Street and Lorain Avenue
by Gary Swilik


The Victory Diner. c.1961. The view is toward the east.. Behind the diner is the old Naegele Insurance office, and then West 140th Street. Lorain Avenue is out of sight at the immediate left.

Tony's Diner at Lorain and West 117 Street is the one everyone talks about. West Park residents with sharp memories, however, will recall Tony's was not the only silver, art deco-style dining car in the area. The Victory Diner on the southwest corner of West 140th and Lorain Avenue was a local competitor for several years and, though relatively few ventured inside, it was a familiar sight to a generation of baby boomers.

 The diner was located about where Wendy's is now but more structures stood on the site at the time. A one-story, wood building housing the Naegele real estate office, its front step made of an old mill stone, was right up against Lorain on the corner. In the small shop joined to the rear of the real estate office, fronting on West 140th, was a shoe repair business.

 Just to the west was a used car lot, the vehicles lined up along Lorain Avenue. Between the real estate office and the car sales headquarters was a brick-paved lot that had once been a turn-around for the early street cars. (Many will recall the old tracks still visible long after the streetcars were gone.) Squeezed onto this site was the Victory Diner, running parallel to West 140th. Only traffic on Lorain heading east would see the full length of the diner. The opposite side of the diner was blocked by the insurance building.

 This odd location, at a busy intersection yet not entirely visible, may have contributed to the diner's shorter life span. Why not place the diner parallel to and right up on Lorain, where street traffic could see the brightly lit interior, counter and stools?

 Part of the reason is because the Victory Diner was not moved to this site until 1957 and there was no way to have it face Lorain and still allow adequate parking. The diner had, in fact, originally stood several miles away in Lakewood, Ohio.

 In the late 1940's it was located at 14615 Detroit Avenue and known as "Scotty's Diner." From 1950 to 1956 it was known as the "Lakewood Diner."  During its last year on Detroit Avenue the diner was acquired by Trendo Jovanovich, a native of Macedonia. It was Mr. Jovanovich, popularly known as "Ted Andon," who had the diner moved from Lakewood to the intersection of Lorain and West 140th in April, 1957.

 Presumably it was also Ted Andon who chose the new name "Victory Diner."

 Ted served breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with lots and lots of hot dogs. In fact, that's what most folks seem to recall about the diner – the huge sign advertising "Coney Island Hot Dogs." It is believed Ted did most of the cooking himself.

 Ten didn't have far to travel to work. The year before he opened the diner he bought a house on Fidelity Avenue, off West 117th, just across the old West Park border. Ted had a least two sons who also lived in northeast Ohio.

 In the late 1950's or very early 1960's, Ted Andon and his Victory Diner received a burst of unplanned publicity when a young man stormed into the diner with robbery on his mind. He picked the wrong place.

 Ted foiled the crime by hitting the would-be robber on the head with a serving tray and the police quickly captured the wrongdoer. The incident made the local papers. A descendent of Ted's has verified this event but we would like to hear from anyone who might be able to pinpoint the date.

 At a very young age the author made his one and only visit to the Victory Diner where he was served an open-faced meat loaf sandwich with gravy and mashed potatoes. The server was Ted himself who was quite modest about his heroism in stopping the robbery.

 The Victory Diner remained in business until about 1966. Whether it was simply demolished or moved to another location is not known. Let's hope it found a new home somewhere and still charms hungry patrons with its classic old dining car ambiance.

The site was later home to a gas station which was torn down to make room for a Wuv's restaurant, a now nearly forgotten Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based hamburger chain which never really caught on in this area. The Wuv's restaurant building became a branch of Chuckie's Chicken in about 1983. Finally, in 1989, it became the Wendy's Restaurant which stands there today.

 Ted Andon continued to live on Fidelity Avenue until his death on June 5, 1986, at about 82 years of age.

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WALKER'S STORE
19406 Puritas Avenue

"Walker's store" was the grocery of Charles and Emma Walker which stood at 19406 Puritas Avenue. Their residence was adjacent to the store. Walker's was one of early West Park's busiest places. Announcements, ordinances, and resolutions were officially posted at the store for public viewing.

Charles Walker came to the U.S. from Canada in 1864. His wife Emma was the daughter of Chauncey and Julia Jordon who came here from New York in 1842 and settled near Puritas Avenue and Grayton Road. Charles and Emma were married in about 1876.

Not only did the Walkers sell groceries at their store but in 1910 they purchased an interest in the famous Puritas Springs nearby, installed pumping equipment, and sold mineral water directly to the public. They advertised "prompt delivery of this un-excelled table water."

Charles Walker passed away at age 65 in 1912. Emma lived another 24 years before dying in 1937 at age 78. They are buried in Alger Cemetery.

The Walker store stood until the early 1960s. Over the years it served as a small market, confectionery, and even a gas station. During its final days the building sat empty, its historical significance forgotten. In about 1964 the Walker store and home was demolished.

   ---Gary Swilik

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WEST PARK STATION POST OFFICE

"The 'West Park Station' post office on West 117th Street.  Built in 1925, the building remained a post office until about 1936 when it was replaced by a new building on Lorain Avenue near West 130th Street.  The old post office then served as an Ohio State Department of Liquor store until about 1971. The building became 'The Velvet Rail' pool hall in the mid 70's, owned by Steve Assid.  In 1984 it became part of the Tony's Diner complex known as 'Mr. Z's Deli and Lounge.'  Mr. Z was Mike Zappone, nephew of Anthony Zappone, who opened the original Tony's Diner in 1947.  The old post office building was torn down in June 1998 to make room for a Rite Aid Pharmacy."   ---Gary Swilik

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WEST PARK THEATRE


West Park Theatre can be seen in this 1938 photograph. Click on image to enlarge.

   
Undated photographs by Arnold Porozynski. Courtesy of James L. Smith.

The West Park Theater, according to late local historian Hal Swinerton, was built on former farmland at 16999 Lorain Avenue by Max Lefkowich in 1920.  (Max Lefkowich, who was born in Hungary and came to America at age 14, began his career as a Cleveland showman during the nickleodeon era. One of his first theaters was at East 9th Street and Superior in the same building later known as the Ellington Apartments. Here Mr. Lefkowich ran "The Great Train Robbery" and an odd attraction entitled "Hale's Tours." This involved reconstructing the auditorium to look like a passenger coach. The audience went "on tour" being rocked about as if they were on a moving train while watching the action on the screen. Later Mr. Lefkowich joined a group of theater investors building and operating a number of movie houses. Max Lefkowich passed away in Golden Beach, Florida, in March, 1961.)  An old insurance map reveals that the West Park Theatre had a central entrance with two, separate exit corridors at each side of the building. (Click here to see an adapted image of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the theatre floorplan, c1929.)  The theater is fondly recalled by our senior citizens.

LaVerne Landphair Buch, 93, of Fairview Park, says she "remembers very well going to movies at the old West Park Theater."

Mildred Landphair Pentak, now of Ruskin, Florida, who was born in a house on Chatfield Avenue in 1923, has specific memories of the theater.

"We used to go to the West Park on Saturday," says Mildred. "My neighbors would go, too. They used to give away dishes on Saturday night. They gave dishes to all the women. My mother (Gertrude Landphair) ended up with just about a complete set."

"I can recall going to the old West Park Theater at Kamm's Corners and seeing silent films," says Dick Morrison, 89, of Cleveland. "I remember when sound films came out one of my neighbors commenting 'talkies will never make it.' "

The West Park Theater was so successful that Max Lefkowich replaced it with the larger and more elaborate Riverside Theatre in about 1938. For a short time the West Park and Riverside Theaters existed simultaneously.  By 1940, however, the West Park had closed.  The Kroger grocery store later moved into the same space although it's not clear whether the theater building was demolished, and a new building erected, or whether the structure was modified to house the grocery.

In any event the West Park Theater building is gone today. The site is now the driveway immediately west of Walgreen's drug store on the north side of Lorain Avenue at Kamm's Corners.

The only photographs of the theater published until now have been distant views. Now, through the courtesy of James L. Smith, we can publish two rare photos of the West Park Theater giving us a much closer look at this lost gem.

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Other buildings or businesses now gone
More information is wanted.  Photographs.  Remembrances.

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please consider sharing it and your memories of it on this

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Maintained by: Charles C. Chaney
15 January 2013