Guest Column - Victorian on Grove Hill worth saving

By Martha Towns
Jan 30, 2020

It’s time to put on the brakes.

Before a stone is turned or a shovel has lifted on Grove Hill, I hope the powers that be take a deep breath and think more than twice about what is or isn’t going to be allowed to happen on precious village land. There is so little space left in the actual village making each square foot, public or private, valuable.

As for Grove Hill and the magnificent Victorian house that sits at the top, it is probably the most recognizable spot in town. You may even have stalled your car on it. OK, I did when I had a stick-shift car more than a few years ago. Because we always lived on the north end of town, I drove up and down Grove Hill all the time.

Even though it has been quite a few years since my husband Ed and I left Chagrin Falls, we have never stopped being interested in what happens in this little village. Parts of it even look as they did when my childhood family moved here in 1954.

There is not much left of “old” Chagrin, but it still looks much the same when you approach the town from the top of Grove Hill. It is a splendid view, which doesn’t reveal the fact that nearly every building houses a new tenant, with the possible exception of Chagrin Hardware. You’re welcome, Jack.

According to the Save Grove Hill website, 1,600 residents signed the original petition to stop any work on the hill. At that time the plan was to raze the old Bancroft house, build two new houses on West Summit Street and townhouses at the bottom of the property after removing 6,000 [sic] tons of soil to “stabilize” the hill. Fortunately, enough residents were sufficiently alarmed to band together and stage a fight.

You all know what happened the last time land was “stabilized” and townhouses built at the bottom of the hill on West Orange Street. Politically and physically, the project was a total boondoggle. The primary entrance to the village from the west was forever changed. Maybe someday we’ll get used to it.

My point is the original plans for Grove Hill would have been a disaster.

I understand completely that the owner of the property is within his rights to make changes. One could only hope that those changes would be made tastefully and within the bounds of good planning. Let’s wait and see what happens.

That hill and the magnificent old home at the top are as much a part of Chagrin Falls as the Popcorn Shop. Dewey Forward has made that shop a truly bright spot on Main Street. It’s one of the few businesses still extant from, dare I say, the old days. Can you imagine the day when we had a bakery, a shoe repair, three drug stores, two hardware stores, an ice cream shop, a department store, a lingerie shop and a hat shop? Hard to believe, isn’t it?

We all know how progress works. There is no such thing as forever anymore. Businesses come and go and, apparently, so do houses.

There was a time when the idea of tearing down a house would have been unthinkable. There was a time when clearing land and taking down trees would have been unthinkable – much less moving whole hills but that hasn’t stopped it; new houses have cropped up all around the village. Everyone, it would seem, wants to live in Chagrin Falls. Aye, there’s the rub.

In the meantime, maybe we could hang on to our hill and the beautiful old house at the top of it. And, has it occurred to anyone that messing with the hill might mean an end to the pumpkin roll?

"Guest Column - Victorian on Grove Hill worth saving". Chagrin Valley Times. Retrieved January 30, 2020.

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