Artist Henry Church, Jr. made Dexter out of iron.
This anvil and hammer
belonged to artist Henry Church, Jr.
Chagrin Falls has, over the years, attracted or produced many artists, one of whom was Henry Church, Jr., whose work can be found in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Born in 1836, he was a self-taught artist. Quite talented, he worked in many mediums, including charcoal, sculpture and painting. He began his working life as a blacksmith, so it ought not come as a surprise that the museum has on display one of his iron sculptures, Dexter, as well an anvil and hammer he used. A pacifist, he avoided serving in the Civil War by purchasing a $300 draft deferment.
He sculpted an image on a rock face that can be seen in nearby South Chagrin Reservation. During that project he headed to the site at 4:00 a.m. each day with the intention of working from light to dark, but as word of his effort spread, onlookers prevented him from ever finishing it. Now called Squaw Rock, what’s interesting about it is that Church’s original title showed just how forward-looking he was for person of his era. He called it The Rape of the Indian Tribes by the White Man. Eccentric to the end, according to the Cleveland Museum Art’s biographical information about him, before his death he acquired a phonograph and “recorded his own funeral speech, an oration that concluded with the line ‘Good-bye at present.’”
In the early days of its existence, Chagrin Falls became the victim of bureaucracy. Half of it resided in Geauga County and the other half in Cuyahoga County. Want to transfer your land ownership? You’d have to go to the county seats of both Cuyahoga and Geauga Counties. To fix this issue, the Ohio State Legislature proposed a land swap. Geauga County would trade 900 acres of its land for an equal amount from Cuyahoga County. The swap was made in 1841. Geauga County’s Russell Township, which had gained land from Cuyahoga County, felt the swampy land it had acquired was useless, so it gave it back in 1843 without demanding anything in return. Chagrin Falls incorporated the next year.
In the 1920s, African Americans in the thousands decided to head to the North to flee the oppressive conditions they faced in the South. The trouble was that while Northern states weren’t as blatant about it, their racism against people of color was equally insidious, explaining why the Ku Klux Klan became active in the area. Despite this, in western Bainbridge Township, Chagrin Falls Park became an integrated community.
In 1927, Clarence A. Crane, the man who invented Life Savers, decided to build a country house and open a restaurant in Chagrin Falls. For this project he bought two houses. One he tore down and the other he added on to. He bought a third house and for $10,000 connected the structures into a single place: Canary Cottage. Here guests could eat, relax, or rent a room to play cards. It attracted the likes of Will Rogers, John D. Rockefeller (who had his own table), and Charles Lindbergh.
So how did such prominent people even hear of this restaurant located in a relatively unknown Ohio village? Crane could thank Duncan Hines for that. Yes, Hines was a real person and not an brand construct like Betty Crocker. From the 1935 through the 1950s, if you wanted one the best restaurant travel guides for the United States, you purchased Hines’s book Adventures in Good Eating for the Discriminating Motorist.
For many years before its publication, he spent much of his time on the road as a traveling salesman selling paperclips and letter openers. During his many sojourns, he found that bad food was a problem when it caused indigestion or, worse, food poisoning. During the era in which Hines did most of his traveling, food safety wasn’t a thing, so he carried a journal with him in which he recorded many details including where he ate, what was served, what times a given place was open, and whether or not it had air conditioning. Before sampling the cuisine of a new eatery, he first made sure it looked clean and that a pleasant smell wafted from it. He often visited the kitchen after finishing his meal, and sometimes looked at an eatery’s garbage pile!