Shaker Historical Society
Lower Shaker Lake
There are four lakes in Shaker Heights but only two are Shaker Lakes, meaning those created by the Shakers of North Union to provide hydropower for their sawmill, gristmill and woolen mill! The other two lakes, Marshall Lake and Green Lake (aka the Duck Pond), were 20th century additions as part of the Shaker Village development by the Van Sweringen brothers. All four though are tributaries of Doan Brook, which flows from the heights down to Lake Erie and is preserved and protected by the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership.
Lower Shaker Lake was created first by the Shakers of North Union. It provided power for the sawmill and the 5-story gristmill (hence the name for the Shaker Heights High School yearbook). The Mill Family of Shakers lived near the lake and operated the mills there, which is now in both Shaker Heights and Cleveland Heights.
In the 20th century, Lower Shaker Lake became a focus for watersports at the Canoe Club, founded in 1908, or at the Cleveland Pavilion on the northern side of the lake. It thrived as a center for family fun and adult entertainment with special programs for veterans of the Great War and excursions to Canada (to import finer beverages during Prohibition?).
December 1963 County Engineer Albert S. Porter threatened to carve a freeway through the Shaker Lakes with his proposed Clark-Lee Freeway to open the eastern inner ring suburbs to interstates. Through the work of the Shaker Historical Society and other dedicated citizens, the project was scrapped. This grassroots effort to stop the freeway from destroying the Shakers' lakes ultimately led to the group who founded the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes.
Today, the Doan Brook Watershed Partnership is organizing a special program to clear overgrown weeds and brush from the Canoe Club's foundations. The Friends of Lower Lake are just getting started, so watch this space for more updates!