Handy Farm

The Handy Farm was located on Franklin and Holbrook Roads off Franklin Road near Chagrin Falls Park. Handy, a native of New Iberia, Louisiana, moved to Cleveland in 1916 and earned money by gigging on the alto saxophone before opening a confectionery business at East 43rd and Cedar Avenue. Handy, who was a great nephew of famed bluesman W. C. Handy, married Bernidell Dorion, a native New Orleanian, in 1915. She joined him in opening and operating the Musicians and Entertainers Club at 8625 Cedar Avenue in the 1930s and Paradise Bar at 4410 Woodland Avenue and the Corner Tavern at 7800 Cedar Avenue in the 1940s.

When the Handys were not running their nightclubs, they enjoyed outdoor recreation, especially horseback riding. Frank was the president of the Tally-ho Riding Club, while Bernidell attended the Kentucky Derby in 1944. In 1947, with their two Cedar-Central area nightclubs thriving with national acts playing frequently to large crowds, the couple rented a 97-acre dairy farm between Chagrin Falls and Bentleyville near the Black enclave of Chagrin Falls Park and took up country living. In 1948, they bought the farm, and four years later they bought an adjacent 191-acre farm, one of several in eastern Cuyahoga County owned by John C. Jackson, with substantial frontage along both Franklin Road and the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad.

Handy tried to sell the land for industrial development, but he relented when this stirred opposition from neighboring landowners. Eventually the Handys bought a large house on East 108th Street in the Wade Park allotment near University Circle and donated a portion of the farmland to build a new swimming pool for children of Chagrin Falls Park in 1954 after a flood washed away a dam that had impounded a swimming pond. The couple continued to reside in the Glenville area. After selling their two clubs, by 1960 Handy had moved into the bail bond business, which he operated until his death ten years later.

The Handy Farm appears on the right side of the map. | Plat Book of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Vol. 3 (Hopkins, 1950), Plate 30, Cleveland Public Library Map Collection

Resources

  • “Business Genius, Musician Dies; Frank Handy Mourned.” Call & Post. Sept. 26, 1970.
  • “Final Rites For Bernidell Handy, A Talented Musician And Artist.” Call & Post. June 6, 1981.
  • Jackson, John C., warranty deed to Frank L. Handy and Bernidell Handy. Village of Bentleyville, Original Solon Twp. Sept. 17, 1952. Cuyahoga County Recorder Book, vol. 7630, p. 735. AFN#195209170106.
  • Paradise Bar and Corner Tavern advertisement. Call & Post. Aug. 12, 1944.
  • Parris, Lillian F. “Handy Donates Site for Pool in Chagrin Falls.” Call & Post. July 31, 1954.
  • Patterson, Leo R., and Julia Patterson, warranty deed to Frank L. Handy and Bernidell Handy. Village of Bentleyville, Original Solon Twp. Dec. 17, 1948. Cuyahoga County Recorder Book, vol. 6658, p. 471. AFN#194812170017.
  • “See Industry Moving Toward Negro Village.” Call & Post. Jan. 26, 1957.
  • “Social Briefs.” Call & Post. May 20, 1944.
  • Williams, June. “Town Gossip.” Call & Post. Oct. 12, 1939.
Holbrook Road, Bentleyville, Ohio (location is approximate)

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