Spotlight on Beach Cliff

In 1888 a local businessman named Clifton Bailey Beach purchased 427 acres of land along the lakeshore, including Governor Rueben Wood’s property located at Wagar and Avalon. By 1890, Beach’s property extended from Detroit Road to Lake Erie, and from Bradstreet’s Landing to the Oakwood estate of Daniel Eells. So by the late 19th century, the land along the lake pretty much belonged to two people - Clifton Beach and Daniel Eells.

Beach was elected to Congress in 1895 and served two terms. Before he left for Washington, Beach sold an acre of his land on the southeast corner of his property to be used only for educational purposes - and that’s where the Beach School was erected in 1897.

The Beach School building still stands today, given major rebuilding and remodeling. Although it is no longer used as a public school, it still has educational uses. Among other things, the building is the home of the Rocky River Historical Society’s archives, which were formerly in the Rocky River Public Library’s Orange Room.

Clifton Beach died in 1902 and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery. His land continued to be farmed for a few years, but his house deteriorated. Finally in 1917, Beach’s son, Chisholm, and his wife Adelaide sold the Beach property to a real estate developer.

The land was to be developed into individual home sites, with the exception of four specific parcels along the lakefront - the Wagar Beach area - that were to be held in trust for the benefit of all the new property owners. The developers hired an Englishman named Alfred W. Smith to plot and name the streets in the Beach Cliff area. Being very British, Mr. Smith favored the Tudor style of architecture and chose English street names, such as Cornwall, Avalon, Kensington, and Falmouth.

Clifton Beach’s land in northwestern Rocky River is what we know today as Beach Cliff, subdivision #2. Beach Cliff, subdivision #1, was the land owned in northeastern Rocky River by Daniel Eells.

Historical Society

Many thanks to the Rocky River Historical Society for this article.

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Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 7:54 PM, 09.03.2013