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The Shaker Lakes

The Shaker Lakes in Shaker and Cleveland Heights are part of the Doan Brook Watershed. The two 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 Heights Land Co., a Buffalo real estate syndicate headed by H. W. Gratwick, and merged with another Shaker colony. Realizing that the new Rockefeller Parkway would make its property more accessible, the Shaker Heights 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 the Shaker Heights 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 city of Shaker Heights, which agreed to occupy, use, and at its own expense improve and maintain what had become known as Shaker Heights 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 remains a problem. The Shaker Lakes, together with the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes at 2600 S. Park Blvd., have been designated a National Environmental Education Landmark.

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