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Gordon Park

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Gordon Park was the first formal public open space within the St. Clair-Superior area. William J. Gordon was a prominent Cleveland commercial and industrial business owner, whose enterprises included a wholesale grocery business and controlling interests in the Cleveland Iron Mining Company. Gordon was one time the mayor of the Village of Glenville.

Gordon lived on a 122- acre estate in what became the northeast corner of the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. He had assembled the groves, ravines and pasture land along the lake beginning in 1865.The estate encompassed the mouth of the Doan Creek Valley and stretched along Lake Erie from East 71st to East 138th Streets. The grounds included a beach, private marina and natural caves, and were "in attractiveness and completeness of artistic finish...[with] few equals in the country."

Gordon died in 1892. His will stipulated that the estate should be turned over to the city and be used as a public park, under condition that the shore on the lake front should be protected from encroachments; that the drives and ponds should be maintained; that no fence should obstruct the land view and that the city should preserve the burial lot of the Gordons.

The City of Cleveland purchased thirty additional acres of the Gordon Estate and added this to the original bequest in 1894. Wading pools for children were made in the brook and a large bathhouse and pavilion were erected in 1901. Flower gardens and conservatories were embellished, tennis courts added in 1915 and the shallow parts of Doan Brook north of the viaduct were dredge to make the stream available for harboring motor boats. Gordon Park served the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood and the entire City of Cleveland for many years.

In November, 1891 the City of Cleveland proposed establishment of a boulevard and park system that would connect the Erie shore of Gordon Park through the wooded ravine of Doan Brook Valley with Wade Park.In 1894, the City purchased a large portion of the Doan Brook Valley between the two parks; subsequent donation of land by John D. Rockefeller in 1896 completed the city's ownership of the entire Doan Brook Valley from Wade Park to Lake Erie.

Unfortunately, the bathhouse in Gordon Park burned in 1918. The park itself was bisected by the shoreway in 1953 by the Lakeland Freeway, and was further degraded by the building of I-90.

In 1978 the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources, through a lease agreement with the City of Cleveland, established the Lakefront State Park, which assumed responsibility for restoration of Cleveland's lakefront--including the lakefront part of Gordon Park.

By 1984 provisions had been made for fishing, boating, and swimming through the establishment of the Gordon Fishing Pier, the Inner City Yacht Club, and the Gordon Launch Ramp Area. In 1996 plans were underway by the City of Cleveland for major restoration of the inland section of Gordon Park

Source: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

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