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CLIFTON PARK

CLIFTON PARK, a residential neighborhood in LAKEWOOD, is located on the high eastern bluffs at the mouth of the Rocky River. The name dates from 1866, when a group of Cleveland businessmen--among them Elias Sims, Daniel P. Rhodes, Ezra Nicholson, and JOSIAH BARBER--formed the Clifton Park Assn. to promote the area as a summer resort. By 1868 the association had built the Rocky River Railroad, which originated at Bridge St. at the city limits and extended to what is today Sloane Ave. in Lakewood. There passengers disembarked to enjoy boating, bathing, large picnic groves, and beer gardens. In 1894 the Clifton Park Assn. commissioned landscape architect Ernest W. Bowditch to prepare plans for an exclusive residential district. Wm. J. Starkweather built the first house in 1897 (now demolished). In 1899 the association sold its interest to the Clifton Park Land Improvement Co., which began to promote the area in earnest. The most important lakefront residences were built between 1900-15, many in the Neoclassic, Georgian, and Renaissance Revival styles. Clifton Park became home to some of Cleveland's leading citizens, including WALTER C. BAKER and W. DOMINICK BENES. In 1912 the Clifton Park Land Improvement Co. was dissolved, and a trusteeship of 5 Clifton Park residents was formed to hold in trust for lot owners the common property of the park, including Clifton Beach. In the early 1960s, after extensive litigation, Clifton Blvd. was extended through Clifton Park to connect with a new bridge over the Rocky River. The project required the demolition or relocation of a number of houses and cut the neighborhood in two. The northern section of Clifton Park, where the oldest and most imposing houses are located, is listed in the Natl. Register of Historic Places.