History of Wickliffe

Wickliffe Municipal Offices - Police and Fire

An Abridged History of Wickliffe

Wickliffe - Its Early Beginnings

Range 10, township 9 (a small portion of the Western Reserve's three million acres) eventually became the City of Wickliffe, Ohio. Moses Cleveland, an investor and Director of the Connecticut Land Company, was appointed general agent to personally conduct the surveying of the Western Reserve. 

The earliest town records show that in 1817 Wickliffe's first residents, the Williams Jones and Abner C. Tarbell families, traveled in two covered wagons from Haddam, Connecticut to the Western Reserve. They settled at Cleveland Public Square but soon relocated to land purchased on a knoll west of the intersection of Lloyd Road and Euclid Avenue, now known as Wickliffe. These early histories have recorded that the land was purchased from the Connecticut Land Company at $5 per acre. However, the Wickliffe Historical Society has a recorded deed that indicates William Jones purchased the land from Theron Freeman on December 4, 1817.

Other families such as Fuller, Turner, McCracken, Vorce, White, Mosher, Hutchinson, Arnold, Alvord, and Ferguson joined the settlement. Many of these early names are on markers in the Wickliffe Cemetery.

How Our City Grew

For its first 100 years, Wickliffe was a precinct in Willoughby Township. In 1916, a petition was filed requesting that Wickliffe be permitted to incorporate as a village. When the election was held on March 27, 1916, a majority of those voting approved the resolution (119 were for incorporation). The Incorporation of the Village of Wickliffe was recorded in Painesville on April 10, 1916. Harry C. Coulby, whose estate was destined to become Wickliffe's City Hall, became the first Mayor. First Council members were Harry Carr, Ben Provo, J. Winn Fuller, Merton A. Kellog, George Tyte, and Grant Donaldson. William Means was Treasurer, and Roy Rush was Clerk.

Wickliffe's first administration building was the old Village Hall located on Euclid Avenue. Through the years, village officials shared these accommodations with the fire and police departments organized in 1916. Early residents and wealthy Clevelanders who had established large estates here, wished to retain the country atmosphere, so industrialization was discouraged. Most of the residents of Italian ancestry arrived during the 1900's from Campobasso, Italy. They worked as gardeners on the large estates or on the railroads.

Although several people handled mail and postal services before 1843, the first United States post office branch was established on July 3 of that year. Silas A. Vorce was the first postmaster.

Stagecoaches and horses were the only means of transportation into the city until 1852 when the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad was built (later the New York Central). The first city interurban came out as far as Taylor Road until 1895 when the CP&E ran a line from Cleveland to Willoughby.

Between 1916 and 1940, few industries settled in Wickliffe. Many people still grew their own grapes, onions, and fruit and sold the excess to Cleveland markets. In 1928, the trees on Euclid Avenue were uprooted so that a sewer line could be installed and several houses were moved back to make way for businesses. In March 1929, the Wickliffe Chamber of Commerce was formed.

Wickliffe officially became a city on October 6, 1951, when the population grew to 5,002. In 1954, the residents attended the dedication of Wickliffe's fabulous City Hall - the million-dollar mansion built by shipping magnate Harry Coulby. The city negotiated its purchase, along with 54 acres of land, by trading its old village hall, a 14-acre park on Bishop Road and $70,000 in cash. $110,000 was spent to renovate the mansion.

The police and fire departments also moved to the former Coulby estate. The police had offices in the east wing until 1991, when the new state-of-the-art police station was opened adjacent to City Hall at a cost of $1,800,000. The Fire Department built a new building along Euclid Avenue in 1996 at a cost of $2,000,000. Both projects were accomplished without new taxes or borrowing money.

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