By Kevin Kelley
If you ever attended a performance at Clague Playhouse, played a little league baseball game at one of the diamonds at Clague Park or swam at Peterson Pool, then you benefited from the generosity of the Clague family.
In 1926, siblings Sophronia and Walter Clague decided to donate 78 acres of land to the community, then known as Dover. The donation included their house, now known as the Clague House Museum, operated by the Westlake Historical Society, and their barn, which is now the Clague Playhouse. On the west side of Clague Road, the 65 acres of their donation is now known as Clague Park, one of the most used recreational sites in the city.
The Clagues’ donation of land, as well as a memorial monument requested by the sister and brother, was officially dedicated at a ceremony on Oct. 12, 1929.
At noon Saturday, 84 years after the original dedication ceremony, an Ohio Historical Society marker recognizing the Clagues’ donation and contributions to the community will be officially dedicated outside the Clague House Museum, 1371 Clague Road.
Lysa Stanton, president of the Westlake Historical Society, Mayor Dennis Clough, Will Krause, the city’s assistant director of planning and economic development, and Cuyahoga County Councilman Dave Greenspan are scheduled to make remarks at the ceremony. Afterward, a reception and free tours of both the Clague House Museum and Clague Playhouse will be given.
Stanton said she hopes Westlakers will take a moment Saturday to honor the Clague family for their gift to the community.
“Generations later, we enjoy the fruits of that gift,” said Stanton, who several years ago began a tradition of laying a wreath each Oct. 12 at the Clague monument.
The historical society president said she launched the marker project to honor the Clague family and their gift to the community. She drove to Columbus to personally deliver the marker application to the offices of the Ohio Historical Society on March 26, her 50th birthday.
“I wanted to do something important on my 50th birthday,” she explained.
The cost of the marker, $2,400, was paid for through fundraisers and donations, including pennies placed in a jar by children who visited the Clague House Museum.
The marker, officially called the Clague Family Homestead Historical Marker, is one of many projects Stanton has taken on to honor the Clagues. She’s currently researching a book she plans to write about the family.
Sophronia and Walter Clague were the last surviving children of the nine offspring of Robert and Margaret Clague, who emigrated to Dover from the Isle of Man, located between Great Britain and Ireland, in 1837. Stanton has been in contact both with descendants of the Clague family in this country and relatives of the Clagues on the Isle of Mann.
Sophronia and Walter lived in what is now the Clague House Museum until each died in 1934.
One more thing. Stanton would like Westlake residents to refer to Clague Park as “Clague Memorial Park.”
“The park is a memorial to the Clagues,” Stanton explained. Adding “Memorial” to the park’s name is a small thing considering that Sophronia and Walter did not place any restrictions on the park, like not being able to use it on Sundays, she added.