Cleveland’s prominent Squire and Wade families sought a quiet country life in the rolling hills above the Chagrin River, and a glimpse of the past grandeur of these estates survives today.
The families bequeathed properties to Case Western Reserve University, which has preserved many original structures and fields. With 10 acres from the nearby Hollister family, the 389-acre University Farm was created.
Case Western Reserve University Squire Valleevue and Valley Ridge Farms, by Ana B. Locci, the farm’s director, and Christopher Bond, the farm’s horticulturalist, tells the farm’s history through 200 photographs from the University Archives, private family albums and family archives at Western Reserve Historical Society. The authors will talk about the book during a book signing at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Fireside Book Shop, 29 N. Franklin St. in Chagrin Falls.
“Many people love the farm,” Locci said. “We wanted to give visitors a sense of its important historical ties to Cleveland and the university.”
About 11 miles and 27 minutes away from the urban campus in University Circle, the farm serves as space for recreation, research and, lately, fresh produce, which supplies campus.
The story of the farm begins with Cleveland attorney and civic leader Andrew Squire’s vision. In 1907, Squire hired the architectural firm of Walker and Weeks (the architects for Severance Hall) to design the farm buildings.
Squire created a working farm with an arboretum of native Ohio trees and a medicinal garden. He employed 30 workers to keep the operation running smoothly. Produce from his fields made its way to the tables of the Union Club and other fine Cleveland establishments, while herbs from the medicinal garden went to University Hospital and other medical facilities.
He would call his country home Valleevue—a name the authors say Squire picked up in his travels to France with his wife. Following one of his wife’s vacations abroad, he surprised her upon returning with a new house, which became known as the Manor House, a popular place then and now for social events.
Between 1907 and 1937, he built and farmed the land, which then was in Orange Township and is now part of Hunting Valley.
After Squire’s death in 1937, the farm was donated to the Flora Stone Mather College for Women in honor of a daughter who died at a young age. The land was designated for recreational and educational purposes for the college’s women. That mission continues today.
Over the years, the Mather women enjoyed hayrides and dances. They also learned home economic skills in the farm kitchens and how to raise pigs as they helped with chores.
“It was a center of social events,” said Gladys Haddad, who was a graduate student at the college in the 1950s and is now a faculty member in American Studies. “We loved going to the farm.”
On the farm to the east and lower in the valley was a property purchased by Jeptha Homer Wade II, an heir to the Western Union Telegraph fortune.
As Wade, a Cleveland philanthropist who gave millions to local organizations and was an accomplished businessman, looked to build on his acreage, he hired the firm Hubbell and Benes, which designed the Cleveland Museum of Art, and enlisted landscape architect Warren Manning.
The building of his neoclassical home, horse barn, chicken and pig houses, gazebos, pool and sprawling gardens began in earnest in 1909. In 1929, the home burned down after cleaning rags caught fire. This brought an end to farm life as the Wades knew it. Over the years, nature reclaimed the land and buildings until the family donated the property to the university in 1977.
Today the efforts of a farm committee dedicated to preservation and programming is working to restore some of the buildings and repurpose them for research and other activities. Proceeds from the book will help efforts to preserve the past and take farm activities into the future, Bond said.