Berkshire Hills History

Berkshire Hills Country Club
Named for Its Regional & Local Characteristics

In the early 1950's a millionaire industrialist Charles Grief Raible purchased a large tract of land, started a large farm business, & named it Pebble Brook Farms. Pebble Brook Farms came to be known as one of the premiere farms in the area for breeding prize Guernsey Cattle. Special barns were built for the prize cattle & others it is said housed thoroughbred horses. Like everything else Mr. Raible did, the buildings were constructed with the best materials available & by some of the area’s finest craftsmen. The main barn was also used to stage Square Dancing for the local families. Many of the buildings Mr Raible constructed are still being utilized by Berkshire Hills today.

Although Mr. Raible & his wife originally resided in a Century Home off Heath Road, he had the desire & funds to build what has become the center jewel of Berkshire Hills Country Club - the Manor House. The Manor House, designed by famed architect "Monty" Copper, (Munroe Walker Copper, Jr.), has 31 rooms in total including seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms. It has two kitchens, as well as, formal living and dining rooms for grand entertaining. The front entrance boasts the symmetry of an English courtyard, while the rest of the grounds combine an equal balance of the natural terrain and subtle man-made terraces that are reminiscent of the vineyards in Spanish and French country sides.

Mr Raible later had a vision to create an affordable residential community out of the large farm. He began the development by constructing the access roads for the planned home sites. Fortunately for us golfers, marketing of the land stopped short of the original plans leaving most of the farm land and wooded areas undeveloped.

In 1954, Pebble Brook Farms was purchased by the Wagner brothers, Louis & Morris, who began the long and arduous task of creating a private country club with amenities such as an 18 hole champion golf course designed by Ben Zink, a 25 yard swimming pool, a clay tennis court, formal dining room, and banquet facilities for several hundred. After completing the construction and renovation the Wagner brothers named the club Pebblebrook Country Club, the name derived from the many streams and brooks winding through the golf course. The Wagner brothers remodeled the barn structures, which are still in use today as a club house/banquet facility and auxiliary locker room building, constructed the largest lap pool in the area, which is currently used by the members of the private swim club and added a pro shop to provide for members' club storage.

In the mid 1950's to early 1960's, Chesterland was a "one traffic light" town and still considered too far to drive for many of the private country club customer base. So in 1963 the Wagner Brothers put a "For Sale" sign on the property.

Milan S. Kapel, Sr. the founder of Berkshire Hills Country Club (October 23,1925 to October 17, 1984), along with his brother, Frank J. Kapel (September 18, 1917 to August 24, 1970) and a hand full of other investors bought the Pebblebrook CC property and renamed it Berkshire Hills Country Club. The name Berkshire Hills was decided upon because the notorious hills in this area, the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in the Northeastern US. The membership rosters for Berkshire Hills swelled with the names of the virtual "Who's-Who" for Cleveland & Northeast Ohio. The Berkshire Hills logo and many of the foundations upon which Berkshire Hills is based were born, partly on the creations of Berkshire Hills’ first General Manager the late Rudy Rowen, Milan S. Kapel, Sr and many others, including Carl & Meriam Zibel, that gave much of their time and energy to Berkshire Hills. Their combined devotion to Berkshire Hills has made possible the facilities we enjoy today.

The Kapel vision for the property was not unlike that of its original owner, C. Grief Raible. When Milan S. Kapel, Sr. took on a task he put himself 100% into it and went "first class". Only the best materials and finest staff would be employed in the transformation of Pebblebrook CC into Berkshire Hills CC.

However, providing a quality facility was only one aspect of Milan S. Kapel, Sr.'s legacy. He wanted to provide this quality to people without the customary restrictions to access by the majority of the other private clubs. Milan S. Kapel, Sr. came from humble beginnings and he never forgot from where he came. Being a self-made man Milan S Kapel, Sr. understood the hard work that goes into making a dollar and he wanted to make sure that those who were using theirs to play golf, swim or have their special event at Berkshire Hills Country Club would "get their money's worth". The Mr Kapel was committed to making this club in the country-- a high quality Country Club without the restrictions that other clubs imposed.

Armed with this focus, ambition and a willingness to do whatever had to be done, the Kapels began the overall improvement of the golf course & facilities. During the following years many improvements increased the playability of the course and enhanced its beauty. The club remained private until 1983 when Mr. Kapel decided to change the direction of the course to a previously uncharted territory of "a golf course/party center".

So in 1983, Milan Sr. focused on making Berkshire Hills the best golf outing venue in Northeast Ohio within three years. Berkshire Hills changed its format from “membership only” to a “public” or "daily fee" golf course. This change of format created an even greater opportunity for more of the public to play on a course that was previously exclusive to members.

Unfortunately, Milan S Kapel Sr. would never see his new vision for Berkshire Hills full materialize due to his untimely passing in October 17, 1984 at the age of 59.

While the golf outing concept was showing promise, there was an eminent development involving another one of Northeast Ohio’s landmark golf courses which would change the course of events for years to come. In 1984, Landerhaven Golf Course in Mayfield Hts, Ohio, a golf course built Henry Miesz (September 25, 1911 to  August 1976) and operated by the Miesz Family was sold to office-park developers. This meant that Ron & Joyce Miesz, the former owners and  managers of Landerhaven GC were on the lookout for a golf course to operate. Through a trusted mutual friend and business associate of both the Kapel’s and Miesz’s the two parties came to terms so that beginning in the 1986 season Ron & Joyce Miesz along with the well-seasoned golf course management team of Arthur Management began to operate Berkshire Hills GC as public golf venue.

Ron & Joyce Miesz operated Berkshire Hills GC until Ron & Joyce retired in November of 2007 making many improvements to the course, enhancing its playability & ease of maintenance.

The ownership of Berkshire Hills has always remained in the Milan S. Kapel, Sr, family, including his wife, the late Eleanore Ann Kapel [Bare] (June 15, 1927 to October 25, 2012), Carole Broderick (Kapel), Milan S Kapel, Jr, Marianne MacLean (Kapel) and Kevin M. Kapel (Kevin’s two children, Kevin M. Kapel II and Dayna Rene Kapel). Therefore, the retirement of  Ron & Joyce Miesz allowed the Kapel family to once again take the reins of the day-to-day operation of Berkshire Hills.

We welcome any and all suggestions on how we can continue to improve Berkshire Hills for the pleasure of our patrons. Please feel free to contact Berkshire Hills at info@BerkshireHills.com to comment or make suggestions.

Berkshire Hills—following through on the vision of its founder to “Provide Patrons with a Quality Recreational Experience at a Reasonable Price!” .

(Left) Millionaire Industrialist Charles Greif Raible (Undated photo-circa 1954)
(Right) The late Milan S Kapel Sr. and his wife the late Eleanore A [Bare] Kapel
(Undated photo-circa 1980).

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9760 Mayfield Rd Chesterland, Ohio 44026
Phone:440-729-9511
E-Mail:
Info@BerkshireHills.com