Weston House on Center Ridge Road. (West Life file photo by
sought to develop historic Weston House
By Kevin Kelley
Published May 6, 2009
Westlake Historical Society is seeking $400,000 from the city to
renovate a 19th century home on Center Ridge Road and turn it into
a museum and local history and genealogy center.
The Weston House, located at 27946 Center Ridge Road,
just east of the entrance to the Westlake Recreation Center, was
donated to the city nine years ago with the stipulation that it
be restored and used as a museum. In the ensuing years, the city
spent $55,000 to secure the exterior of the building and fix the
roof. The city leased the house to the historical society, which
was expected to come up with a plan to turn the structure into a
Although it spent a good deal of money and volunteer
hours working on the house, the society has been unable to secure
adequate funding to create a museum at the site.
Jim Anderson of the Westlake Historical Society and
Steve McQuillin, chairman of the society’s Weston House Preservation
Committee, presented the new plan to City Council’s public grounds
committee Thursday evening.
McQuillin said the society doesn’t have the funds
or fund-raising capabilities to develop the property any further,
but does have a vision for the historic house.
“We’ve got a building that’s stabilized but not useful
very much,” said McQuillin, who works as a building preservation
McQuillin envisions the structure serving several
uses, from museum to meeting hall. Its location next to the recreation
center is ideal, he said.
The developed historical home could be a landmark
asset for the city, he said.
“It could be the city’s signature project for the
bicentennial,” McQuillin said, referring to the 200th anniversary
of Westlake’s founding, which will take place in 2010.
graphics from the Westlake Historical Society show proposals
for developing the historic city-owned Weston House on Center
Ridge Road. The top overhead view shows a proposed botanical
garden and parking lot just north of the structure. The bottom
drawing shows a side view of the Weston House with an octagon
addition on the right. (Graphics courtesy of Westlake Historical
The preferred plan, or “Plan A,” as Anderson called
it, involves restoring the main floor of the Weston House as a museum
of early pioneer life in the former Dover Township area. The second
floor would be turned into a local history and genealogy center.
McQuillin said the society has had discussions with Westlake Porter
Public Library Director Andrew Mangels about operating and staffing
the center. Mangels confirmed these discussions with West Life but
said the library has not made any commitments to the project.
The Weston House’s partial basement would be expanded
to provide restrooms, a kitchenette and additional display areas.
And an addition in the shape of an octagon would be
built behind the historical house. In addition to holding additional
displays, the new structure would include a large meeting room that
could be rented out to help generate income for the museum.
The plan submitted by Anderson and McQuillin also
showed a proposed botanical garden behind the Weston House along
with a 32-car parking lot adjacent to the recreation center drive
Plan B, Anderson said, is to develop all the floors
of the Weston House as a museum but not build the octagon addition.
Plan C is to develop just the first floor, he said, and Plan D is
to keep the house boarded up but maintain the exterior.
The house is architecturally significant, McQuillin
said, due to its sandstone construction.
The house is believed to have been built in 1844 for
Austin and Roxanna Lilly, who came to Dover Township in the 1830s
from Ashfield, Mass., a place where many Dover settlers came from.
The couple lived there until 1867. However, Anderson said he has
incomplete evidence that portions of the house date to 1828.
Named after a later owner, George Weston, the house
was later given to the city by his great-granddaughter, Alice Ladanyi.
The house has been listed on the National Register
of Historical Places, McQuillin said. An Ohio Historical Marker
was installed in front of the structure in 2005.
McQuillin said the Weston House could also serve as
the site of events put on by the historical society. The Clague
House Museum, also city-owned but run by the society, does not have
room for large functions, Anderson and McQuillin said.
Mayor Dennis Clough said at the committee meeting
that the city obtained the house with the intention that the public
would eventually go inside it. The mayor said that’s still his goal,
although he did not commit to the society’s “Plan A” for developing
the site. The city did not budget any money for developing the Weston
House, Clough said.
McQuillin said the society’s request that the city
loan or invest roughly $400,000 in the Weston House could be reduced
by historical preservation grants, tax credits, naming rights to
the meeting hall, and income from renting the meeting space.
But Ward 3 Councilman Dennis Sullivan said assuming
significant rental income as a business plan was perhaps “pie in
the sky.” Other council members were reluctant to give quick support
to the proposal. Ward 5 Councilman Ken Brady, chairman of the public
works committee, said the Weston House development was a “nice to
do” project but not a priority like sewers and other infrastructure
needs. He advised the society to continue seeking funding from other
Brady said council would soon schedule a finance committee
meeting to determine what funds were available for such discretionary
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