Film tells story of residents’ efforts to save Grove Hill

Julie Hullett
Sep 23, 2021

CHAGRIN FALLS — The Chagrin Documentary Film Festival brings filmmakers from across the world to the heart of Chagrin Falls, but always manages to remember and support the locals.

The 12th Annual film festival will feature 97 films at three venues from Oct. 5-10. There is something for everyone, including films on the environment, justice, crime, history and family friendly films. There are also a few especially for the locals, such as “Saving Grove Hill,” directed by John Bourisseau, president of the Board of Trustees for the Chagrin Falls Historical Society.

The film tells the story of how Chagrin Valley residents rallied to save the historic Bancroft house, built in 1878, which sits atop Grove Hill in Chagrin Falls. When a developer’s plans for the property threatened to replace the house with condominiums, the community partnered with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to raise funds to save the property.

“The community has this history of stepping up to make a difference,” Mr. Bourisseau, 74, of Bentleyville said. “Once we told the story of Grove Hill, this is something that’s really been a part of our community for 180 years. As we began investigating the history of these kinds of community efforts, we had to cut out quite a few. It’s quite remarkable how often the residents of our community have stepped up to make a difference for the community as a whole.”

The efforts began when the neighbors near the Bancroft house noticed stakes in the ground. Once the conversations began, the news of development spread on social media, where more residents heard about their cause and wanted to get involved. Mr. Bourisseau said that about 18 people were involved in the committee, but many others contributed their time and funds to help save Grove Hill.

“People can influence decision making through positive interactions with the community,” he said. “There was a tremendous positive impact that came from the people who were trying to influence and make change. That, to me, is a big part of the story – staying positive in how you approach trying to make a difference in the community.”

The Bancroft house was purchased by an individual who plans to live there with his family. The lower half of the property will be a public park, Mr. Bourisseau said, and a committee is working on creating the park.

A shorter version of the film was submitted to the Ohio History Connection and won an award for community education. The members of the Save Grove Hill committee will receive an award from the Ohio History Connection in October. Mr. Bourisseau described the committee as “an amazing group of people.”

He said that Chagrin Falls has been a “cultural center” in Ohio for 150 years, noting that it was home to the county fair and an opera house.

“I grew up here. I graduated from Chagrin,” Mr. Bourisseau said. “As I got older and got involved with the historical society, I found that history is something that to me is really important for everyone to have knowledge of. I found it interesting and exciting to be involved in an organization to share that history with the schools and community members so they see how Chagrin’s history has shaped who we are and how our community is over time.”

“Saving Grove Hill” will have its world premiere at Chagrin Falls Intermediate School on Oct. 9 at 4:45 p.m. More information and tickets for the film festival are available at 440-247-1591 and

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