Shoreside at a small lake in the fall, with trees around the lake showing colors ranging from green, yellow, orange, and red.

Save Grove Hill: Preserving an Iconic Piece of Chagrin Falls History

March 25, 2020


Conceptual design for Grove Hill and the Bancroft House – Courtesy of Paskevich and Associates

Chagrin Falls is a special place. It’s a community where folks walk to local shops and the library, gather at Riverside Park and stop for a snack at the Popcorn Shop. Neighbors know one another, they look out for each other. Traditions like Blossom Time and the Pumpkin Roll bring together young and old to celebrate their shared experience, passing on memories to the next generation, who in turn make their own. It is a place where residents cherish the historical character of their community.

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 in 1878, 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.

Historical photo of Grove Hill looking north up Main Street – Courtesy of Chagrin Falls Historical Society

Unfortunately, the legacy of the Bancroft House – like too many things in our world today – is under threat. Local developer Robert Vitt owns the house and the one-acre property where it’s stood for nearly 150 years. As you may have heard, Mr. Vitt submitted plans to demolish the Bancroft House and replace it with up to five new homes. This would destroy the character of iconic Grove Hill. A big piece of our history and legacy would be gone forever.

“Grove Hill and the Bancroft House represent a one-of-a-kind asset, what we refer to as a keystone property. Keystone properties can become transformational amenities or they can be developed just like everything else. The difference can make or break the character of an entire community.” – Rich Cochran, President and CEO, Western Reserve Land Conservancy

Western Reserve Land Conservancy reached a deal with Chagrin Falls developer Robert Vitt to purchase the property. The group plans to save the Bancroft House, built in 1878, and create a public park that will be owned and operated by the Village of Chagrin Falls.

However, if the Land Conservancy is unable to raise $600,000 by May 9, the deal falls through and Vitt would renew his effort to demolish the historic home and build five new homes on the site.

You can help us reach this goal right away by clicking here and pledging your support.

Bancroft House, atop Grove Hill

“The people of Chagrin want to save this property from development and we are proud to help. Together, and only together, we can save this keystone property,” said Rich Cochran, president and CEO of Western Reserve Land Conservancy. “We are committed to the preservation of the Bancroft House and to creating a public park amenity that will be a community gathering place for generations to come. We are excited to reach an agreement with Mr. Vitt, but we recognize the daunting task ahead of us to raise the money needed to finalize the deal. We’re not out of the woods just yet.”

An aerial rendering of Grove Hill – Courtesy of Paskevitch and Associates

Chagrin Falls Mayor Bill Tomko has been a champion of historic preservation and land conservation for decades.

“The people of Chagrin made it clear that they want to maintain the charm of our Village by preserving Grove Hill for future generations,” said Mayor Tomko. “We are grateful to the Land Conservancy for once again stepping up to make something special happen. We urge all of our citizens and businesses to support this effort.”


Chagrin Falls – A special place

Vitt purchased the property in 2019, intending to demolish the historic mansion and build up to five new homes on the site. 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.

Council President Erinn Grube expressed her gratitude and acknowledged the need for the community to rally behind this deal.

“As council president and as the mother of young children in Chagrin, I could not be more grateful that the Land Conservancy has made this possible,” said Grube. “Now we must come together to provide the funds for this vision to be realized.”