Land Conservancy, Chagrin Falls Community Raise $350,000 to Save Grove Hill

April 27, 2020

Western Reserve Land Conservancy has raised $350,000 so far to Save Grove Hill. To support this effort, the Chagrin Falls Historical Society recently gave a $15,000 donation towards the campaign.

If the group cannot raise a total of $600,000 by May 9, local developer Robert Vitt will be able to renew his effort to demolish the historic Bancroft House, built in 1878, and build five new homes on the site.

“The Historical Society and the people of Chagrin have shown how much they cherish the character and history of Chagrin Falls,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “This iconic property atop Grove Hill is a beacon to the entire Village. We are thrilled to be moving closer to our goal and begin building a new vision for Grove Hill.”

On March 26, the Land Conservancy, the largest land trust in Ohio, reached a deal with Vitt to purchase the historic 1-acre property with plans to preserve the iconic 1878 Bancroft House and create a public gathering space in partnership with the Village of Chagrin Falls.

“The mission of the Chagrin Falls Historical Society is to discover, preserve and share knowledge about the history of Chagrin Falls and vicinity,” said Ruth Zeager, executive director of the Chagrin Falls Historical Society. “Saving Grove Hill and the Bancroft House reflects our mission and we are proud to be able to support its preservation with a $15,000 gift.”

This iconic property atop Grove Hill is a beacon to the entire Village. We are thrilled to be moving closer to our goal and begin building a new vision for Grove Hill – Rich Cochran

High atop Grove Hill, the Bancroft House remains a constant reminder of the history and spirit of Chagrin. Considered a grand mansion when it was built, the home has majestic views of the Village, all the way out to the Civil War Memorial in Evergreen Hill Cemetery. The historic property is bordered along Main Street by a handsome old stone wall built by local workers through the WPA during the Great Depression.

Vitt purchased the property in 2019, intending to demolish the historic mansion and build up to five new homes on the sight. Local community members opposed the development and approached the Land Conservancy with the idea of purchasing the property from Vitt, preserving the historic value of the home, and turning the southern half of the property into a small community park, to be owned by the Village.

“In working together with the Village leadership and local residents, we believe we have come up with a plan to save the mansion, create a beautiful public park along West Cottage Street, and preserve it all forever,” Cochran said. “If we’ve learned one thing during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders it’s that public parks and preserves are vital to our health and happiness. We’re excited to bring a new park to the people of Chagrin Falls.”

Bill Weber, a local business owner and member of the Save Grove Hill Committee, said that preserving the mansion and improving the property with a new park is just what Chagrin needs.

“Our Village prides itself on our history and tradition,” Weber said. “Saving the Bancroft House and creating a new park will be the legacy we all leave behind for our kids and grandkids. Many people gave to save Grove Hill, and we’re hoping even more will do the same.”