The SHAKER LAKES in Shaker and CLEVELAND HTS. are part of the Doan Brook Watershed. The 2 lakes were created in the mid-19th century by the NORTH UNION SHAKER COMMUNITY. By damming DOAN BROOK, the Shakers provided waterpower for a woolen mill at Upper Lake (also known today as Horseshoe Lake) and a sawmill and gristmill at Lower Lake. The colony leased its lands in 1889 to the Shaker Hts. Land Co., a Buffalo real estate syndicate headed by H. W. Gratwick, and merged with another Shaker colony. Realizing that the new Rockefeller Parkway (see ROCKEFELLER PARK) would make its property more accessible, the Shaker Hts. Land Co. in 1895 donated 279 acres, including the upper Doan Brook Valley and both lakes, to the City of Cleveland, stipulating that the land be used "for park purposes only." Landscape architect Ernest W. Bowditch laid out winding roads following the terrain, the lakes were rebuilt, and the Shaker buildings were demolished. In 1913 he Shaker Hts. Land Co. conveyed to the Van Sweringen Co. such reversionary interests as it had in the parklands. In 1947 Cleveland leased the parklands to the cities of SHAKER HTS. and Cleveland Heights, which agreed to occupy, use, and at its own expense improve and maintain what had become known as Shaker Hts. Park. The lease was last renewed in 1990 for a period of 50 years. The Shaker Lakes were threatened in the 1960s by the construction of I-290 (the Clark Freeway), but the highway was never built. In 1974 a symposium was held on the water quality of the Shaker Lakes and Doan Brook, but pollution of the watershed was problematic and in subsequent years sedimentation also became an issue. By the late 2010s, the state of the dam at Horseshoe Lake had deteriorated to the point where the lake was drained for safety purposes. After a great deal of contention between local citizens and the Cleveland Regional Sewer District it was decided in 2022 that the dam would be removed rather than replaced and the brook above it returned to natural channels.
The Shaker Lakes, together with the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes at 2600 S. Park Blvd., have been designated a National.Environmental Education Landmark.