Things you didn't know about where you live

This is Patrick Calhoun, who started what is now Cleveland Heights, went broke, moved to California, started the famous San Francisco trolley cars, got run over (by a car) and died.

I’ve given two talks on Coventry, on Coventry. Last November, and in December of the previous year, I spoke at the Coventry library about the history of Coventry. The presentation was about how Coventry Village came to be what it was and is. 

A lot of people showed up for those talks, but even more didn’t. In fact, most of the world did not. As a result, I’m always running into people who say, “Sorry I couldn’t make it to your Coventry thing. . . . So, how DID Coventry become what it was?” 

I can’t tell them the whole thing, because the story starts with the beginning of the city of Cleveland—and I mean with Moses Cleaveland. So, I usually tell them some things that I’m fairly certain they didn’t know about the history of their city. Like, first of all, if they know where I live, I point out that my house is approximately on the 9th hole of the golf course that used to cover a large part of the Cedar-Fairmount area. You’ve seen signs designating the area as “Euclid Golf,” right? That’s why.

And I tell them the course’s clubhouse, which was near where Derbyshire Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard are now, cost $50,000—at a time when average houses cost a few hundred dollars to build—and from it, you could see Lake Erie. 

And why was it called Euclid Golf? For the same reason Euclid Heights Boulevard got its name. Pandering. The developer of what became Cleveland Heights, Patrick Calhoun, a wealthy railroad guy, came to town to see the new memorial for his friend, the late President James A. Garfield. He could see it from his friend’s farm, which covered most of what is now Coventry Village (and much more), and he got the idea to build a little community here for other wealthy people.

Two super-important things happened: First, since he was a railroad guy, he worked with local rail companies to put trolley car lines up Mayfield Hill and, more significantly, Cedar Hill. Before that, it was extremely difficult for people to get up here. Second, he knew that the denizens of the world-famous Millionaires' Row—Euclid Avenue, from Public Square to the East 40s (and rapidly expanding eastward)—were becoming disillusioned with that area because it was becoming too crowded and, due to the burgeoning industry downtown and to the south of the city and in the Flats, the place really smelled bad.

So Calhoun figured (correctly) that they would move to this new area, now that they could get up here, and playing on the reputation of Millionaires' Row, called his new community Euclid Heights—a step up from where they had been living. And Euclid Heights Boulevard—which you’ve always wondered how it got that name—was at the heart of the development. It worked. All of the houses were huge. There are none left, but they were twice the size of the biggest houses there now—and some of those are pretty big. In fact, there are a few houses behind that part of Euclid Heights Boulevard now that look like mansions, and those were just the carriage houses for the original homes. 

Anyway, I also tell these people who couldn’t come to my talk, but want me to tell them interesting stuff, that there used to be a racetrack where Euclid Heights Boulevard and Edgehill Road is. I don’t know which side, but wherever it was, it’s hard to imagine now. 

And I explain that relatively soon after Calhoun started selling these huge lots for wealthy people to build giant homes on, he went broke, and the bank subdivided the lots, so now regular people could afford them. Suddenly hundreds of houses and apartment buildings sprung up. People needed stores. And that strip of Coventry Road was right between the two trolley car lines that came up Mayfield Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard. And people had to walk up and down that strip of Coventry to change trolley car lines. 

Plus, at the same time, another guy, M.M. Brown, came to town and started what he called the Mayfield Heights development, which was just east of Coventry, going down Mayfield to Superior Road. So, there were now all these people living near Coventry, and others with easy access to it, and lots of stores and other businesses all along Coventry—and a brand-new elementary school at the Euclid Heights Boulevard end, and soon after, the Coventry library. 

So, that’s what I tell them—if they’re still standing there.

David Budin

David Budin is a freelance writer for national and local publications, the former editor of Cleveland Magazine and Northern Ohio Live, an author, and a professional musician and comedian. His writing focuses on the arts and, especially, pop-music history.

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Volume 17, Issue 4, Posted 10:27 AM, 03.28.2024