For the past two years, the Shaker Historical Society has been working closely with the City of Shaker Heights and Shaker Heights Public Library on preservation of Warrensville West Cemetery. If you are unfamiliar with this cemetery, it is on Lee Road next to the Heinen's parking lot and is the second oldest cemetery in Cuyahoga County.
Yes, all the shrubs you see next to the Kingsbury Building are hiding a historic cemetery!
In 2021, the City received a Certified Local Government grant from Ohio History Connection to fund a Historic Preservation Master Plan, which involved several organizational and public stakeholder meetings throughout the year. During this time, SHS provided historical information and research and teamed up with Meghan Hays from SHPL to lead a Veterans Day tour highlighting veterans from five wars buried in Warrensville West Cemetery. We also participated in an amazing public workshop about cleaning and resetting headstones in fall 2021. Twenty one workshop attendees, along with City, SHPL, and SHS staff, were able to reset and/or clean around 12 stones, including several from veterans.
SHS was thrilled to welcome two Case Western Reserve University interns in spring 2022 through the Humanities@Work program, which aims to provide paid, hands-on internship opportunities for Case humanities students. Liah Townsley and Dohwan Kim spent six weeks in our archives researching several people buried in Warrensville West Cemetery. Dohwan also digitized many photographs while Liah developed a self-guided tour.
The City was also busy in spring 2022 establishing a meadow with mown paths at Warrensville West Cemetery, as recommended in the Historic Preservation Master Plan, to return the cemetery to its 19th century meadow-like appearance. A reduced mowing schedule will also allow wildflowers to appear again and cut down on maintenance. The designated pedestrian path will be mowed as needed throughout the growing season to encourage foot traffic.
We held another public tour of the cemetery in September 2022 in collaboration with SHPL and the City to share the stories of early Warrensville Township residents and updates about Historic Preservation Master Plan progress. While practicing the tour route at the cemetery, SHS and SHPL staff were greeted by a family of deer enjoying the new meadow-like environment.
In 2023, Shaker Historical Society will continue to work with the City, Shaker Heights Public Library, and the public on the Master Plan to encourage historic preservation, interpretation, and respectful use of this hidden gem!