BEREA, originally part of MIDDLEBURG TWP., incorporated as a village in 1850 and as a city in 1930. It is a 4.88-sq.-mi. residential suburb approx. 10 miles southwest of downtown Cleveland, bounded on the north by BROOK PARK, on the east by MIDDLEBURG HTS., on the south by STRONGSVILLE, and on the west by OLMSTED FALLS. The history of the township really began with the arrival of JOHN BALDWIN and others in 1828, and their attempt to establish an experimental utopian Christian socialistic community. The founders of the Lyceum Village community and school purchased land, issued stock, and renounced personal property. The post office was named Berea by Baldwin and Rev. Henry O. Sheldon in 1836. However, because of the small membership, the lyceum failed in 1844. In 1842 Baldwin founded the Baldwin Quarry Co., the beginning of the local sandstone industry. The Berea sandstone along the Rocky River had excellent qualities for grindstones and building stone. During their heyday, Berea quarries shipped 400 tons daily throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia. The quarries consolidated into the Cleveland Stone Quarry Co. in 1886; they closed in 1946. The year that Berea incorporated, the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad was completed through the village, stimulating other local industry.
Baldwin donated land to the Methodist Episcopal Church, which operated the Baldwin Institute (est. 1845, later BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE). The influence of Methodism remained strong: in 1864 the first Methodist orphanage in the U.S. was established (which evolved into the Berea Children's Home). In 1894 the Cuyahoga County fairground, previously located on Kinsman St. in NEWBURGH and CHAGRIN FALLS VILLAGE, moved permanently to Eastland Rd. in Berea. The location of CLEVELAND HOPKINS INTL. AIRPORT in nearby Brook Park in 1925, of the NASA LEWIS RESEARCH CENTER near the airport in the 1940s, and the completion of I-71 in the 1950s all contributed to the city's growth. At the end of World War II its population was 6,025. In 1960 Berea adopted a charter form of government. In 1986 the community had more than 5,000 homes and apartments, more than 175 retail establishments, more than 50 small manufacturers, and a branch of the CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY SYSTEM. Berea was part of the Berea School District, which included Brook Park, Middleburg Hts., and RIVEREDGE TWP. A training complex for the CLEVELAND BROWNS opened in Berea in 1991 and was renovated in 1999 for the return of the Browns. The city also purchased a bowling alley and skating rink for renovation into a public recreation center which opened in 1995. By 1990 its population had reached 20,117, then contracted somewhat to 18,970 in 2000.
Holzworth, Walter F. Men of Grit and Greatness: A Historical Account of Middleburg Township, Berea, Brookpark, and Middleburg Hts. (1986).
Shaw, Willard H. Historical Facts Concerning Berea and Middleburg Township (1936).
See also SUBURBS.