Filed Under Architecture

West Cleveland Town Hall

Carved out of the Brooklyn Township territory, West Cleveland was incorporated as a village in 1871. The new suburb consisted of 1,500 acres of land and was bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by the Cleveland corporation line near Gordon Avenue (West 65th Street), on the west by Highland Avenue (West 117th Street), and on the south by Lorain Street. The village was developed by landowners as a residential subdivision. It was hoped that the suburban setting would appeal to the housing wants and needs of Clevelanders living in an industrial area of the near west side known as the "Triangle". The plan was successful, and the area was predominately settled by working class immigrants.

A two-story, wood-framed structure at West 83rd Street and Detroit Avenue was built as the town hall for the Village of West Cleveland. The building housed the local jail and governmental offices, but also regularly acted as a site for voting and community meetings. With the expansion of the Village of West Cleveland to around 6,000 people in the 1890s, the local government proved inadequate in providing necessary services such as police protection and the grading of roads. In 1893, residents of West Cleveland voted to annex their suburb to the City of Cleveland. The following year, appointed commissioners from West Cleveland and Cleveland negotiated and agreed on provision for the terms of West Cleveland's annexation. As part of this agreement, the site of the town hall was to become a police station. Auctions were held for the purchase of the historic building. Initial plans to relocate the structure and have it act as a school were never realized. Instead, the building ended up in the hands of Irish immigrant and land developer James Faerron in 1894. The new owner moved the town hall to a lot of land off of McCart Street (West 69th Street) and used it as a residence. In 1912, the City of Cleveland purchased portions of Faerron's land to extend Herman Avenue. The building was once again moved, this time to its current location at 6802 Herman Avenue.

Images

Cuyahoga River Scene, c. 1880 In the era of rapid expansion that followed the Civil War, an area know as the "Triangle" on Cleveland's near west side was booming with industrial activities. This center of industry provided an ideal setting for production - iron works factories were located near railroad tracks, ship-building plants were founded on the river, and ore docks operated along the Lake. The Triangle was also the home of thousands of Irish immigrants who had been attracted to the area by jobs in the different industries. Living conditions in the Triangle were less than ideal. The factories, plants, and mills belched smoke and soot into the air day and night. A steady stream of oil, grease, and toxic substances was discharged into the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. By the time the Village of West Cleveland was incorporated in 1871, the Triangle was an overcrowded, boisterous, and grimy neighborhood. Residential subdivisions of the new suburb were accessible by both street car and foot to the Triangle, making the location very appealing to the working class immigrants who lived in the noisy and unhealthy environment of the Triangle. Source: Text courtesy of James Dubelko
Residence and Grounds of Henry Lower, 1874 Pictured above is an image from the Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The idea of an idyllic, rural lifestyle was a key selling point in the marketing of West Cleveland properties. The new suburb offered its residents fresh air and serenity, all within a reasonable distance of the commerce and industry of the city. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Special Collections
Sketch of West Cleveland Town Hall, 1894 Handbills flooded West Cleveland announcing the auction of the town hall in September of 1894. Initial plans by the city council were to sell the structure to the Cleveland School Board. Interest in the building was also shown by the Cleveland Park Commission, who debated turning it into a art museum. Other interested parties included a West Side butcher firm with plans to convert the structure into a slaughter house, various collectors of curios and rarities, and a representatives from Norwalk looking to replace their city hall with a larger building. Image from Cleveland Leader (January 6, 1894)
Moving Town Hall On October 24, 1894, the City of Cleveland issued this permit to James Faeron, granting him permission to move the former West Cleveland Town Hall building from its original site on the northwest corner of West 83rd (Seward) Street and Detroit Avenue to West 69th (McCart) Street. Image courtesy of City of Cleveland Archives.
Town Hall Arrives This partial page from the 1898 Cleveland Atlas depicts houses and other structures located in the McCart Street-Herman Avenue area in that year. Outlined in red are parts of two lots owned by James Faeron, the person authorized in 1894 to move the West Cleveland Town Hall. The building with the number "2" (denoting a two-story dwelling) is believed to be the West Cleveland Town Hall. Approximately 15 years later, when the City of Cleveland extended Herman Avenue through to West 69th Street (formerly McCart Street), the town hall building is believed to have been moved again by Faeron to its current location on the north side of Herman just east of West 69th Street. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Digital Map Collection.
6802 Herman Avenue, 1948 While County and City records provide evidence that the West Cleveland town hall was first moved to a property owned by James Faerron, gaps in historical records make it currently impossible to definitively prove that 6802 Herman Avenue was the same structure. Evidence, however, overwhelmingly points to this conclusion. If one were to strip away additions made to the 6802 Herman Avenue structure following 1920, the building dimensions would match those of West Cleveland town hall. Each relocation of the building also corresponded to the addition of foundations to properties owned by Faerron. These additions to the property matched the foundation size and shape of the West Cleveland town hall. Finally, renderings of both structures show that the roof line and placement of doors and windows are similar. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
The Promised New Twelfth Precinct Police Station Among the key terms of the annexation agreement between West Cleveland and the City of Cleveland was a promise by the latter to build a new police station in the territory and staff it with at least six police officers. For several years, West Cleveland officials lacked sufficient resources to effectively deal with increases in crime. They had even found themselves compelled to request assistance from Cleveland police officers operating out of the intersection of Pearl and Detroit Streets to help deal with criminals such as the McCart Street Gang.
6802 Herman Avenue, 1983 Additions to the building at 6802 Herman Avenue were built in 1923, 1924, and 1933 by owner Anthony Gallina. These changes masked the structure's original appearance. Although public memory of the building quickly began to fade, lingering neighborhood stories of the structure's possible significance helped encourage the research and rediscovery of this little known monument to the history of Cleveland. The building is currently occupied by a day care center. Photograph courtesy of Cleveland Public Library Photograph Collection

Location

6802 Herman Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Metadata

Jim Dubelko and Richard Raponi, “West Cleveland Town Hall,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 30, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/214.