Rather than picking a topic for this blog, I decided to choose a date and look into what was happening in the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District at that time. I chose July, 1955 and looked through newspaper records to see what I could find. I was delighted to read an article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer published on July 7, 1955 titled “Cyrus Eaton Gives Public 58 More Acres of Park.”
Cyrus Eaton (1883-1979), a wealthy industrialist, had an estate in Sagamore Hills called Acadia Farms where he raised prize shorthorn cattle. In the 1940’s, Eaton acquired the adjoining Seiberling property and Acadia Farms grew to over 800 acres. Since his death in 1979, much of this land has been developed, but because of his generosity some of it remains public green space.
The parcel of land Eaton donated in 1955 is in Sagamore Hills Township (Metroparks Serving Summit County and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park did not yet exist.) Having grown up nearby, I am very familiar with the property and was excited to read more about its acquisition.
Upon his donation of the 58 acre plot, Eaton, who had served on the Metropolitan Park Board from 1930-1940, said that his purpose was “to offer tribute to the devoted service of William A. Stinchcomb,” the veteran director-secretary of the park board who was nearing the end of his career. He is quoted saying “William Stinchcomb is the ideal public servant, a unique combination of engineer and administrator. His dedication to the public interest has been an inspiration.” Stinchcomb called the donation “one of the finest contributions made to the park district. It will ever be a memorial to its donor,” he said.
The land was along the Ohio and Erie Canal and fronted about one mile of Canal Road. It was intended to provide a connection between Brecksville and Bedford Reservations. Cleveland Metroparks now has 163 acres in Sagamore Hills; five are considered Bedford Reservation and the other 158 are part of Brecksville Reservation and the property donated by Eaton in 1955 does indeed help to link the parks. At the end of the article, it states that Eaton and Stinchcomb “walked through a portion of the wooded property yesterday morning when it was given over to public use.” If you walk that property today, it likely looks very similar to the way it looked that summer morning in 1955 thanks to the foresight of our early park leaders.