Readers of my previous posts may surmise that I am interested in finding out how places in the parks got their names. They are correct. So when Cleveland Metroparks acquired the former Acacia Country Club property, now Acacia Reservation, in December 2012, I began to wonder about its name. As it turns out, the reason for the name is quite simple even if the meaning behind it is a bit more complicated.
First of all, what is an Acacia? It is a type of tree or shrub in the pea family. There are over 800 varieties of acacias in the world. Acacias are native to tropical and subtropical regions, particularly Australia and Africa, but some live in warm parts of North America. Acacias are especially numerous on the plains of southern and eastern Africa, where they are well-known landmarks on the savanna (see photo) and giraffes like to nibble on their leaves. Several acacia species are important economically and produce gum, tannins and timber.
When Acacia Country Club was founded in 1922, it was started by Freemasons as a club for Masons and their families. Freemasonry began in Europe as a trade guild for stonemasons and evolved into a fraternal organization for men based on the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. Although the purpose of their meetings is for intellectual discussion, any mention of politics or religion is prohibited. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Ford were all freemasons and there are about 5 million members worldwide today. Acacias have many sacred meanings in the practice of Freemasonry. While I will not attempt to explain these meanings, it makes sense that they used this name as the acacia is a widely used and significant symbol for them.
While Acacia Country Club spent the first third of its existence as a club exclusively for Masons, it also gained a reputation as providing fantastic opportunities for golfers. In addition, member families had an array of athletic and social occasions that made Acacia a premiere country club for many Clevelanders for 90 years. Please see the attached articles from the Cleveland Plain Dealer and clevelandmetroparks.com for more details.