header photo

The Gates Mills Historical Society

Preserving Village History Since 1946

Celebrating 75 Years

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the incorporation of the Gates Mills Historical Society!

Since 1946, the Gates Mills Historical Society has been collecting artifacts, stories, newspaper clippings, biographies, photographs, tools, furniture and maps documenting the history of our charming village.  Much of this is on display at the Museum in Southwick House on Old Mill Road.   The Society is led by an all-volunteer board of directors who work to document the history of our village as it continues to evolve.  Over these 75 years, the Society has been supported by a multitude of members and villagers who have donated their time, family records and heirlooms to the Gates Mills Historical Society.   

The Gates Mills Historical Society (GMHS) was incorporated in 1946 and is comprised of individuals interested in preserving the history of the village and its transition from a rural mill community to the charming village we know today.  The GMHS maintains The Southwick House Museum at 7580 Old Mill Road as the repository of village history.  It houses three floors as a museum as well as the offices of the Gates Mills Land Conservancy.

The Southwick House was built in 1834 by Lemuel Southwick on Chagrin River Road near Rogers Road at the north end of the village.  According to Monroe W. Copper Jr., village resident and architect, the house is a fine example of the story-and-a-half “Greek revival” type of early farmhouse architecture.  A. C. Ernst and Judge and Mrs. W. T. Kinder were instrumental in acquiring the house, which was moved from its original site to its present location next to the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club and dedicated in 1949.  The land was purchased from The Hunt Club and given to the village, which granted it to the Historical Society.  Its location by the old water pump is also the previous site of the interurban station in Gates Mills (Stop # 21).  The Southwick House Museum contains many local artifacts, historical documents and original furniture handmade by the Southwick family. 

Unfortunately, the Southwick House is currently closed due to the coronavirus.  Once the pandemic has passed, the museum will be available for visits by appointment. 

2020 Marks the 100th Anniversary of the Incorporation of Gates Mills

In 1826, Holsey Gates built his first sawmill and founded Gates Mills.  On October 21, 1905, The Gates Mills Improvement Society was incorporated as a non-profit corporation and tasked with promoting “the health, safety, and happiness of members of The Society, the improvement and protection of property in Mayfield Township, and the management of real estate to achieve these goals.”  The Society was the governing body of the town until The Village of Gates Mills was incorporated on December 4, 1920.  From this point on, Gates  Mills was a community independent of Mayfield Township.


Do you have a Legacy or Landmark Home?

The program is intended to aid in the preservation of these additional notable homes by recording the dates of their construction and documenting their owners, architects and builders.

Click here for more details: LANDMARK AND LEGACY HOMES

Website Visitors


Southwick House and Museum


Gates Mills Historical Marker

The village of Gates Mills derives its name from its founder, Holsey Gates, and from the importance of mills in the agricultural community.  In 1826, the year of Gates Mills’ founding, a sawmill was constructed to increase the lumber supply and attract new settlers.  In the following year, a rake factory was established, and by 1829 a gristmill was in operation.  The Chagrin River was dammed to create a millrace that regulated the flow of water to the wheels that powered the mills.  Shops and houses encircled the mills, which were the center of industry in Gates Mills.