Lakewood’s Clifton Park receives National Register of Historic Places designation

LAKEWOOD, Ohio – Imagine the outcry today associated with a busy thoroughfare built right in the middle of a fully-built, cherished and beloved single-family residential community.

Well you can think about it the next time you drive west on Clifton Boulevard out of Lakewood for Rocky River where, in the mid-1960s, the development of Clifton Park – dating back to the late 19th century – was changed to the name Progress, which included a new bridge.

“At the time, the idea was that they needed a more direct route to connect the far western suburbs to downtown Cleveland,” said John S. Pyke, Jr., resident of longtime Clifton Park, grandson of an influential women’s rights activist and former Lakewood City Schools Board. from the President of Education, Bernice Pyke.

“So they put the extension of Clifton Boulevard across the park, dividing into north and south halves what was originally an 1890s suburban development.”

Once built, Clifton Park featured winding streets, irregularly shaped grounds, parks, and a beach on Lake Erie for the exclusive use of its residents.

The plan provided for minimum investment requirements and uniform setbacks for residences, but gave owners the freedom to design their residences, which included an eclectic mix of architectural styles popular in the first third of the 20th century.

You could say that Pyke is bona fide Clifton Park. Born in a house built in 1901, an adult Pyke and his family moved into a 1902 house before moving in 1989 to their current residence built in 1952.

Recently, the Lakewood resident turned his attention to finally giving South Clifton Park its due as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, a status the North Clifton Park has enjoyed since 1974.

“I don’t remember why we didn’t include the south side in 1974, but for some reason we didn’t,” Pyke said. “For many years I waited to nominate the south side and put the whole story of Clifton Park in the bid.

“Studies across the country have shown that these designated nationally registered districts retain their value because homeowners take real pride in their district and their home. This helps to maintain, if not promote, the values ​​of the property.

Finally, three years ago, Pyke began the painstaking process, which included a lot of bureaucratic red tape.

To help with this endeavor, Pyke raised funds via crowdfunding from the residents of Southside Clifton Park to conserve the Historic Preservation Group, who provided their National Registry expertise to complete the project which included detailed application of 57 pages filled with spreadsheets, photographs and maps.

Pyke recently learned that the southern neighborhood of Clifton Park has been officially listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

“LakewoodAlive has celebrated historic preservation for almost two decades and we applaud the efforts to create another historic district in Lakewood,” LakewoodAlive Executive Director Ian Andrews said in a press release.

“Our community’s historic homes and streetcar-era commercial buildings play an important role in reinforcing why Lakewood is such a special place to live, work, shop, dine and play. We are excited about future historic preservation efforts to increase these types of successes.

Of course, national designation is an integral part of the mission of the Lakewood Historical Society.

“The vision for this important Lakewood neighborhood was to have winding streets following the original trails of the Clifton Park recreation area, and extending Clifton Boulevard through the park was an unnatural division of the neighborhood,” said said Greg Palumbo, executive director of the Lakewood Historical Society. in a press release.

“We are pleased to see the inclusion of the southern district in the National Register, in line with the original vision of the district’s planners.

Other areas of Lakewood on the National Register include Birdtown and the Downtown District.

“Interestingly enough, the whole town of Lakewood could be designated a historic district,” Pyke said. “The people at the national registry told us, but because all the research that needs to be done there, it’s too difficult, too expensive to apply for the whole city.

“You have to identify the historical and architectural nature of each structure. It just takes a lot of research and time.

Read more news from the Sun Post Herald here.

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