Hidden Cleveland

Busy street once site of the Guthrie farm

By CHET GUTHRIE Banner Intern
Posted 7/23/15

The fact of the matter is you never know who once stood in the same place you are now.

Throughout time, someone tilled a wheat field where a utility building now stands, or where a bustling …

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Hidden Cleveland

Busy street once site of the Guthrie farm

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The fact of the matter is you never know who once stood in the same place you are now.

Throughout time, someone tilled a wheat field where a utility building now stands, or where a bustling highway has taken over a dirt path leading to nowhere.

Before Paul Huff Parkway cut through the winding dirt road that became Ellis Circle and Valley Head Road, when Adkisson Drive was still a part of Norman Chapel Road, the Guthrie family bought the cow pastures that would become the Guthrie farm.

That was 1921.

Anderson Andrew Guthrie, his wife, Lydia, and their family of 13 moved to Cleveland from the mountains of Greene County, after purchasing 200 acres of land where the Cleveland Daily Banner, Cleveland Utilities and Clingan Ridge Baptist Church now sit.

According to family lore, Anderson bought the property because the land was affordable and at the time their land in Greene County was rocky, contributing to making it very hard to plant any successful crops. Their house stood about where the Cleveland Daily Banner is presently, on 25th Street, and the little gravel driveway going up to their old homestead is now Guthrie Avenue.

“We used to play out there in the yard all the time. ... They would have get-togethers pretty often,” Bruce Guthrie said regarding the wheat fields where Cleveland Utilities is now.

Bruce is a descendant of one of the 13 children and turned a simple five-minute drive through Cleveland into an hour-and-a-half walk through not only family history, but Cleveland's hidden history as well. Guthrie said present-day Mouse Creek, Norman Chapel and Georgetown roads were the only roads providing access to Cleveland from certain areas.

“It was the only way to get to Cleveland from out west,” Guthrie said of Georgetown Road.“It was the only way to get across the ridge for years,” before Paul Huff Parkway and Interstate 75 were put in, he said. “Mouse Creek came all the way down from Charleston.”

James Franklin Guthrie, the son of James Asbury Guthrie who owned the property on the other side of farm, recalled how when he and his family wanted to see his grandfather they had to drive downtown then get on 17th street and to Georgetown Road, in what today would be a simple cruise down Adkisson Drive.

Several of the family houses are still standing to this day. The one-story brick house of Fred Guthrie, one of Anderson’s sons, still sits on Brentwood Drive on top of the hill overlooking 25th Street, one of modern Cleveland’s busiest thoroughfares.

“In 1967, I came up here to some kind of get-together. I dropped off in that ditch there. I bought me a brand new ’67 Ford wagon [to replace the older car]” said Fred, laughingly recalling fond memories of the former farm.

This house was also where Lydia Guthrie, Anderson's wife, last lived before passing away in November 1967, at age 97.

Fred Guthrie was in partnership with Joe Little, and the two invested in the buildings on property now owned by the Economy Inn and Burger King. Bruce Guthrie said the partnership was a practical one, as “Fred had the land, and Joe had the money.”

Bruce Guthrie's family home sat in the middle of where the Horizon Apartment complex is now.

“I'm not sure if it’s still there, but where those apartments are is where my parents’ house was. They moved to California for seven years and moved back into the same house,” Bruce said.

Bruce said Andrew gave Clingan Ridge Baptist Church an acre of land so the church could build its sanctuary.

The surrounding area, which was all swampland at the time, was developed by Cletus Benton, who according to Bruce Guthrie, had swindled the woman who had owned it. The relatives found this out and filed a lawsuit that ruined him and his ambitions.

Back then, Peerless Road was a dirt trail owned by the Rymer family.

James Asbury Guthrie’s first house stood where the Subway restaurant on Paul Huff Parkway is now, and the second house he lived in which was built in 1968 was where Hardee’s is now. That house was moved in the ’80s to Ann Lane a few miles away off Georgetown Road, and is there to this day.

James’ house stood between James Asbury Drive and Bernham Drive. Those streets were named after James Asbury Guthrie and his wife, Betty Bernham Guthrie.

In 1968, as Interstate 75 construction was making its way north and dominating the landscape, James Asbury and his 4-year-old grandson Chester Guthrie used to drive across the Exit 27 bridge in his old Chevrolet truck.

The second property purchased by James Asbury Guthrie, one of Anderson's sons, could only be accessed by Valley Head Road. The road at the time was, as Bruce Guthrie now puts it, “a little old pig path.”

James and his family attended Valley Head Church, and the church itself moved right across the street and back again, twice.

What is now the dead end on Valley Head Road was a part of Ellis Circle Before Paul Huff cut the road in half.

Where the road was cut off can still be observed,

Bruce’s cousin was married to one of the Ellises who owned the property right next to James, and their house still stands at the dead end of Ellis Circle.

In the ’80s when Paul Huff came through, the city had to bulldoze its way through the side of the hill to meet with Georgetown Road and the resulting dirt elevated the cow pastures between Frontage Road and Wendy’s by three feet. This was likewise with the land where the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles facility is located.

James made a good sum of money with the advertising board that is just in sight on the Exit 27 southbound exit.

After James Asbury Guthrie died in 1982, his children sold the land, due to escalating land taxes triggered by the new interstate.

As the bustling roadway known as 25th Street roars in the morning and into the night, remember someone stood where you do now, in quieter times. Land and its people can change dramatically in 84 years.

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