Earlier this week, I wound up at this bar and grill right off the freeway to meet up with the Collinwood-Nottingham Historical Society which was holding it’s Holiday Dinner there. Headed by Mary Louise Daley, I’ve known a majority of its members for years through various other community organizations and, having missed their meetings half this year, I felt I’d better show up. As the evening progressed, I mentioned that it was time we started really looking into the history of North Collinwood in the mid-20th century. With that, Ms. Daley told me that they are more than willing to do so if I brought something to research regarding the area, be it Euclid Beach Park, the LaSalle Theater on East 185 St. or even St. Joseph High School (she didn’t give examples but I am right now as I write). Coming home, and remembering a recent post I put on here, I came up with a piece I wrote last year on Yahoo that has just reverted back to me so here it is about the place I call home.
“Everyone along the I-90 Corridor knows what the East 185 St. Area is, but that’s the name of a street, not the historic community. The Nottingham area of Cleveland is a corner of the city very few people realize exists. It forms part of the name of local groups such as the Collinwood-Nottingham Villages Development Corporation and local businesses. However, the fact that it was once an independent village, with a neighborhood with a name of its own, eludes us.
According to Mary Louis Daley, President of the Collinwood Nottingham Historical Society, Nottingham gets its name from a Mr. Henry Nottingham who was involved in the construction of what later became the New York Central railroad through this area. Originally part of Euclid Township, Nottingham was organized in 1873, village status renewed in 1899, and was annexed by the city of Cleveland in 1911-1912 The southern half, still called locally Nottingham Village, is now considered part of South Collinwood. The rest of the village that is today part of North Collinwood goes by various names; most notably the East 185th St. area but there is another name that not too many people currently take notice.
Beachland was a term used in the area of Nottingham near Lake Erie. Postcards from the turn of the century show the name clearly written. Even today, the post office on East 185 St. is called the Beachland Station as is the Beachland Presbyterian Church on Canterbury Rd. In fact, the church is built in the middle of two streets that formed a small subdivision platted out by 1903 called Beachland. According to resident Elva Brodnick, there is even today a Beachland Homeowner’s Association. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that this name pops up on occasion with community groups who toy with the idea of changing the North Collinwood appellation of their community. Ironically, the Beachland Ballroom on Waterloo Rd. is not within the old Nottingham Village boundaries.
Whatever it is called, the area near Lake Erie at the border with Euclid is in many ways different from the rest of the NE corner of Cleveland. The housing stock is, for the most part, a generation younger than one sees in Collinwood with many more single-family dwellings. While less severe than in other parts of Cleveland, the foreclosure crisis has led to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank to take over properties and there are empty lots where vacant homes have been demolished. However, home occupancy is still higher than the city average. Though there are empty storefronts on East 185, restaurants such as Muldoon’s, Scotti’s, and Bistro 185 draw plenty of patrons; many from the suburbs and plans are underway to rehabilitate an old movie theater. With the City of Cleveland taking the Euclid Beach, Villa Angela, and Wildwood Parks back from the State of Ohio this year and in the process of transferring them to the Cleveland Metroparks, another asset will be on its way towards major improvements.”
This piece was one my most popular ones on the Yahoo Contributor Network and it does show how complex the history of my neighborhood really is. It is still a toss-up if the area will take off as an ‘in’ place to live or not but at least it’s no longer in free fall. I am amazed that, when I drive around that many houses so recently vacant are being remodeled and occupied. The Metroparks continue to improve the Lakefront parks and soon they will be done putting in the new sewers along Lake Shore Boulevard. These are very positive things and perhaps more are on their way.
Photographs by James Valentino.