Showing posts with label Greek Revival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek Revival. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Farmhouse in the City

Greek Revival farmhouse

This house, at 1209 East 71st Street - just north of Superior - has been on my radar for a long time. In fact, it was the subject of one of my very first stories here.

Try to imagine the house as it was at the time it was built, 160 years ago. Remove the porch. The house would have sat on a rise, a couple of steps leading up to the front door. The windows on the front of the house, on the first floor, had a somewhat ornate trim, as did the front door. The windows, two over two, would have been flanked by shutters, perhaps in dark green, in contrast to the white of the house.

Clemen N. Jagger residence

The color scheme might have been something along the lines of the Clemen N. Jagger residence, now at Hale Farm and Village. The first floor windows on the front might have had panels underneath, like this structure, or they might have been triple-hung - what I do know is that the original window trim extended downward to a line even with the bottom of the doorframe.

It was a simple structure, but with good proportions, on a relatively small (ten acre) lot.



Greek Revival house - foundation detail

On the exterior, the house has plenty to tell us. The foundation, now covered with a layer of paint, bears the tool marks of the people who quarried and cut it.

Hand-hewn timbers

While most of the framing for the house was cut in a sawmill, the largest timbers were hewn by hand. One can be seen here, underneath a bit of trim.

Siding detail, W. Lewis residence

A closer look at the front of the house illustrates the flush siding - an uncommon detail. One can also see, in the paint, the outline of the trim that originally flanked the windows - a helpful piece of information for the party that chooses to fix up this house.

This house plays a signficant role in illustrating the way this neighborhood changed and grew over time.



William Lewis was born on 3 April 1809, in Westport St. Mary, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, England. His wife, Mary Anne Ponting Lewis, was born 1814, also in England. In 1847, they immigrated to the United States with their four children: Thomas (born 1838); George (born 1840); Jane (born about 1842); and Edward (born about 1845). By 1850, they were farming in East Cleveland, Ohio. (Sources: Find a Grave records for William Lewis and Mary Anne Ponting Lewis, 1850 and 1860 US Census).

1209 East 71st street Google Maps

In September, 1852, they purchased, for $500, a ten acre parcel facing Becker Avenue - now East 71st Street. (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 185312190004 ) The parcel extended eastward to what is now East 79th Street. The original property is shown in blue on this map - the location of the house, in green.

1897-10-10-p4
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10 October 1897, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

The seller was one Edward Lewis, also from Wiltshire, England. He had risen to prominence within the iron and steel industry by the time this portrait was made, in 1897. His relationship, if any, with William Lewis is unclear.

At the price, it's plausible that the house had just been built - especially if Edward Lewis was a relative and was giving William a good deal. If not, the house was built soon after.

The 1860 US Census lists two more children: William (born about 1848) (henceforth William, Jr.) and Benjamin (born about 1851). It's unclear why William, Jr. wasn't numerated in the 1850 census.

William Lewis died July 30, 1854, at the age of 45. He was buried in Woodland Cemetery. I have not been able to locate any documentation as to the cause of death. (Find a Grave William Lewis.)

View of the Ohio State Fair Grounds, 1856
View of the Ohio State Fair Grounds, 1856. A hand-colored print (1856) by Klauprech & Menzel. Used courtesy of the Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps.

The family would have likely attended the 1856 Ohio State Fair, held just a mile and a quarter to the east.

By 1858, there were neighbors on either side, both occupying similarly sized (and shaped) lots. The family remained at this house, and by 1860, the value of the property was listed as $4,000.

Draft
Used courtesy of the National Archives, Ancestry.com, and Cleveland Public Library.

Thomas Lewis and George Lewis both registered for the draft in 1863. Their occupation is listed as "gardener". How this is different from "farmer", which appears far more frequently, is unclear.

Mary Lewis died 11 December 1863. She was buried alongside her husband at Woodland Cemetery. (Find a Grave: Mary Anne Ponting Lewis)

George Lewis and Jane Lewis transferred their shares in the property to Thomas Lewis, in 1863. (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 186302250002)

Thomas Lewis married Amelia Gibbs. They raised several children in the house: Celia Jane Lewis (born 23 October 1865); Frank J. Lewis (born 1866); William E. Lewis (born July, 1870); Thomas E. Lewis (born 9 July 1873); Charles A. Lewis (born January, 1878); and Sarah E. Lewis (born December, 1879). Arthur Lewis, born November 1875, died the following month, from whooping cough.

By 1874, the area was becoming more developed. The Lewis children would have attended a brick schoolhouse, built at the corner of what is now Carl Avenue and Addison Road, a walk of abuot a fifth of a mile.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

The larger farm lots were beginning to be split up to build residences. Some were massive, grand structures, like this house, at 6512 Superior, which I've written about in detail. (See: The best frame Italianate house I've seen in Cleveland and Threatened: The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side)

Italianate house on Superior

On the opposite side of the street, the Beckenback residence has a similarly interesting story. Like the house facing it, it retains significant interior detail.

The biggest change to the immediate surroundings came in the form of the Lakeview, Collamer, and Euclid Railway, which ended just a couple hundred feet up Becker Avenue (now East 71st Street).

1876-06-23-Page4
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 23 June 1876, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

1880-05-08-p4
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8 May 1880, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

449 Camp Gilbert
Residence and Grounds of George Gilbert, Esquire, Euclid Station, Ohio. From the 1874 Lake Atlas of Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Passengers might have used the railway to visit Camp Gilbert, at the mouth of Euclid Creek.

The following clipping, in addition to illustrating storm damage (front page news!) provides us with a vital bit of history - this house did, in fact, have shutters.

1876-12-16-p1
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 December 1876, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

1877-02-10-Page4
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10 February 1877, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This quantity - an unknown portion of the Lewis flock - strongly suggests that at least part of their income came from selling either eggs or chickens.

1880-04-13-p5
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 13 April 1880, page 5. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This purchase suggests that the railway was busy.

A beer garden was built at the railway terminal - next door to the Lewis house. As this 1885 article suggests, it caused some problems.

There's nothing useful that I can say about the following articles.

1885-07-13-Page1]
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 13 July 1885, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

1885-07-14-Page1
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 14 July 1885, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

1885-07-14-page3
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 14 July 1885, page 3. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.



1885-10-01-p3
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1 October 1885, page 3. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

In 1885, Celia Lewis married John Moser in a ceremony at the Lewis family home. John Moser moved in to the house, where they had two children: Grace M. Moser (born 1886) and John Lewis Moser (born 1887).

The Lewis / Moser family remained in the house through the end of the 19th century. The ten acre lot was gradually split into smaller and smaller peices, as this became a residential neighborhood. In 1900, Amelia Lewis sold the house to Eliza and William Lehmann. (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 190003230029)



In the next article, we'll see how this house (and the neighborhood) changed during the course of the 20th century.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio: The house and its residents

Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio
The Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio an oil painting (circa 1857) by Frederick Elmore Cohen. 38 x 45 in. Used courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Last week, I shared the location of this, the house depicted in one of my favorite Ohio paintings. Today, I'll illuminate something of the house itself and the people who lived there. In part three, next week, I'll bring everything together and provide some analysis as to what it all means.

Boyd Addlesperger, local history librarian at the Mansfield / Richland County Public Library, was kind enough to email me with a copy of the following article. Esther Smith (Many Notables Walked Between Iron Lions of Former Cappeller Home on West Fourth, Mansfield News Journal, July 20, 1941) provides a wonderful history of the house and the families who lived in it. I've inserted several historic maps to help illustrate the changes to the propery. Note that in the maps, the front of the house is at the top of the image. My commentary is in italics.

For almost a century the doorway at 93 West Fourth street has been guarded by a pair of crouching cast-iron lions. They were placed there when the big brick house was built by Bentley Runyan who came to Mansfield from Knox County in 1847. State and national figures have passed between them.

Three Ohio governors, Joseph V. Foraker, George K. Nash and Asa Bushnell were frequent visitors at the home during the 25 years it was occupied by William S. Cappeller, publisher of Mansfield's first daily newspaper and prominent figure in Ohio Republican life.

Warren G. Harding was entertained there during his campaign for presidency of the United States and John Sherman often called at the Cappeller home.

One of the showplaces of the city at the time it was built, the old Runyan home was for several years the only house that stood in that particular block on the south side of West Fourth Street.

1882
[detail] Plate B - Parts of Wards 1, 2, and 3, Atlas of the City of Mansfield, Ohio. E. Robinson & R.H. Pidgeon, Civil Engineers. Published by E. Robinson, New York, 1882. Used courtesy of Richland County, Ohio USGenWeb.

The lot is seen here in 1882. The brick house, shown in Cohen's painting, is in red, while the barn, to the rear, is in yellow. Note that the lot remains empty of other structures.

Commodious rooms prevailed throughout the house and the downstairs boasted both a parlor and sitting room, bedroom, a dining room that ran the width of the house, kitchen and pantry besides the various extensions that served as woodshed and ice house.

Upstairs there were a series of bedrooms making a total of 14 rooms throughout the entire house.

Numerous changes have been made in the house since then but one feature that remains the same, a beautiful spiral staircase that extends from the reception hall to the third floor. As unique in local architecture today as it was originally the staircase has a narrow walnut banister supported by a newel post and slender spindles whose fragile appearance belies their sturdiness.

As long as the Runyan family occupied the house few changes, if any, were made, according to Mrs. George A. Mead, 65 Blymyer avenue, a granddaughter.

detail, 1887 Sanborn map of Mansfield, Ohio
[detail] 1887 Sanborn fire insurance map of Mansfield, Ohio. See also: the full map.

While the residence and carriage house remained essentially unchanged, the lot was split in two by 1887. The area shown as the garden in Frederick Elmore Cohen's painting had a house sitting on it by the time this map, published in 1887, was printed.

Residence of W.S. Cappeller, No. 93 West Fourth Street
Residence of W.S. Cappeller, No. 93 West Fourth Street. Reproduced from The County of Richland, Ohio (1896). Published by Rerick Bros., Richmond, IN. Used courtesy of the Richland County Historical Society.

The facade was first altered during the occupancy of the Cappeller family by the building of a verandah that gave an added appearance of width to the front of the dwelling.

An oil painting of the home and Runyan family at the time the children were small now hands in the home of a granddaughter, Mrs. James McCullough in Oberlin. A photograph of the painting is in Mrs. Mead's possession.

The house was kept in the Runyan family until the two sisters, Miss Mary Ellen Runyan, who had established the first private kindergarten in Mansfield, and Mrs. Almeda Parsons and the latter's infant daughter, now Mrs. McCullough, were the only occupants. Mrs. Parson's husband had recently died and she and her sister sought a more compact dwelling.

W.S. Cappeller and his family came to Mansfield from Cincinnati in 1885 while Cappeller was commissioner of railroads in Ohio.

detail, 1897 Sanborn map of Mansfield, Ohio
[detail], 1897 Sanborn fire insurance Sanborn map of Mansfield, Ohio. See also: the full map.

Early in the residency of the Cappeller family (by 1897) the barn to the rear of the lot was removed.

Scene of many social gatherings from the senior Cappeller's political and public life, the home for the next 25 years was also a gathering place for the friends of the sons and daughters.

There were three grown children at home then, William G. Cappeller, now dead, a bookkeeper in his father's Daily News; a daughter, Nora, now the wife of W.M. Congwer of Cleveland, and E.B. Cappeller, then a student at Cornell university and now living in Cleveland.

Antique furnishings were used throughout the house, Mrs. Flora G. Cappeller, 111 Sherman avenue, widow of W.G. Cappeller, recalls. Two choice pieces, belonging to her husband's grandmother, Mrs. Mary Cappeller, a dresser and a chest, are now in her possession, and also the silver water chariot that was presented to W.S. Cappeller at the time he retired as treasurer of Hamilton county.

In 1911 W.S. Cappeller died and his widow dismantled the home and went to Cincinnati to live with a daughter, Mrs. Laura Doran, now a resident of California.

Since that time the house has been occupied by a Mansfield physician, Dr. D.W. Peppard and his family.

detail, 1914 Sanborn map of Mansfield, Ohio
[detail], 1914 Sanborn fire insurance map of Mansfield, Ohio. See also: the full map.

Between 1909 and 1914, the lots were split up, and new houses were built on the rear half of the lot. By 1921, a garage had been added to the lot of the house behind the Runyan house. No further changes to the footprints of the structures show up on the 1929 or 1949 Sanborn fire insurance maps.

More extensive improvements have been made by the Peppards than in any year prior to their occupancy. Additional windows have been installed to let in more sunlight. New fireplaces have been built in practically all of the downstairs and upstairs rooms that were originally equipped with mantels.

Part of the space in the large dining room has been appropriated for a modern kitchen while a rear screened-in porch with a floor has been built to the east for an "outdoor" dining nook where every meal in the summer time is a picnic, Mrs. Peppard said.

Dr. Peppard's office now occupies the extension that was formerly the old Runyan woodshed and that now runs along side Cappeller court.

Seldom has there been a time in the history of the house that there have not been young people in it. The Peppards reared a son and three daughters there and it was only this summer that the last of their children, William D. Peppard, married and moved to his own home.



Be sure to tune in next time, for the final part of this story, where I'll make some sense of everything that's been revealed about this family and the place they called home.

Friday, December 14, 2012

In Search of the Bright Green House - The Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio

Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio
The Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio an oil painting (circa 1857) by Frederick Elmore Cohen. 38 x 45 in. Used courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

For as long as I can remember - since the mid-1990s at least - this painting has caught my attention when I've visited the Allen Memorial Art Museum, in Oberlin, Ohio. As I became interested in Cleveland area architecture, the painting became noteworthy as an early depiction of a house in color - how can one miss that bright green? Now I see it as a very special document.

The Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio, a painting made circa 1857 by Frederick Elmore Cohen is arguably the best Ohio family portrait. It goes beyond merely depicing a man, a woman, and their five children - the level of detail in the image provides us so many details about how they lived and what they felt was important.

[detail] Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio
Detail, Bentley Simons Runyan Family of Mansfield, Ohio an oil painting (circa 1857) by Frederick Elmore Cohen. 38 x 45 in. Used courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

The yard is well manicured, with a variety of trees, some so small that they still have cages around their bases for protection. Trellises of a couple different designs line the side and front of the house, as well as the right edge of the yard. A lattice is attached to the side of the house near the rear.

To the rear of the house, there's a barn and a smaller structure, both gray in color. To the left of these, a one and a half story building, painted white. Looking more distant, we can see what appears to be a hill, or perhaps even a mountain.

Looking at the house itself, we first notice the color - a bright green where we're used to seeing white. Looking closely, we can make out the texture of brick underneath the green paint. From the two chimneys, wisps of smoke are visible. And then there's the grand front door, flanked by a pair of lions. Draperies appear present around all of the windows.

Finally, there's the family! They're clearly of some means, as they appear well-dressed. One can see that Bentley Runyan's left arm used to be pointing, as if to say "this is mine". And what stories might the children tell?

We knew what city the house was said to be located in, but, it seemed, nothing more. I had to, at the very least, try to put this scene on a map.

Rather than reinvent the wheel - which I seem to do more frequently than I should - I sent an email to Andria Derstine, director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum, asking if they had anything further in their curatorial files on the painting. There was an article, Artist and Patron: Frederick Cohen and Bentley Runyan by Marcia Goldberg, which appeared in the Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, volume 37, number 2 (1979-80), pages 79-87.

Goldberg notes (page 84) "The Runyan house was the showplace of Mansfield when it was built, probably in 1852 or 1853. It stood alone for some time on a large fenced and landscaped plot at the base of a hill (just visible to the left) on the western edge of town."

The 1850 U.S. Census indicates that the Runyan family, living in Madison Township, Richland County, owned real estate worth $2,200. A decade later (1860 U.S. Census), they were living in Mansfield Township. There were five children (ages 13, 11, 8, 5 and 1), and they were of sufficient means to employ a laborer and a domestic. The value of their real estate had jumped to $25,000.

With this information in hand - a large estate (as suggested by the value of the real estate) and a vague location (the west edge of Mansfield) - I knew just where I might find the answer to my question.

Large-scale maps illustrating land ownership and the locations of houses were producted for more than half of the counties in Ohio in the 1850s and 1860s. My working bibliography of such maps indicated that, while such a map had been made for Richland County, it wasn't among those that I knew to have been digitized.

[detail] Plate B - Parts of Wards 1, 2, and 3
[detail], Plate B - Parts of Wards 1, 2, and 3, Atlas of the City of Mansfield, Ohio. E. Robinson & R.H. Pidgeon, Civil Engineers. Published by E. Robinson, New York, 1882. Used courtesy of Richland County, Ohio USGenWeb.

Fortunately, the 1856 Map of Richland County, Ohio had been digitized by Richland County Ohio USGenWeb. Alas, the map of Mansfield was not included. After some fumbing around, I came across the 1882 Atlas of the City of Mansfield, Ohio. Someone had been kind enough to index the names on it, and finally, I hit paydirt! Take a close look at the south side of W. Fourth, about a block west of Mulberry.

1882
[detail] Plate B - Parts of Wards 1, 2, and 3, Atlas of the City of Mansfield, Ohio. E. Robinson & R.H. Pidgeon, Civil Engineers. Published by E. Robinson, New York, 1882. Used courtesy of Richland County, Ohio USGenWeb.

Looking more closely, we see a house belonging to "Lucinda Runyon" - the wife of Bentley Simons Runyan, and who is illustrated on the left side of the painting. The house is painted a red hue - indicating that is brick (a frame house would generally be painted yellow on such a map). Further, the footprint is approximately what we'd expect for the house as shown in the painting. Finally, there's a yellow building - a barn or carriage house - in approximately the right location.

BSR House 1
Photograph used courtesy of Jennifer Gray.

I took a look at the site in Google Maps, hoping that the structure might still be standing, which would confirm my hypothesis that this was the house in the painting. What I saw looked promising. Streetview confirmed that it was, in fact, still there!

This photograph illustrates the house. It's brick, and the proportions appear correct. The windows and door on the front were in the same location as those in Cohen's panint.

But it's not the house in the painting. In my excitement, I went a bit too far on West Fourth Street. The Runyan house was a block to the east.

Residence of W.S. Cappeller, No. 93 West Fourth Street
Residence of W.S. Cappeller, No. 93 West Fourth Street. Reproduced from The County of Richland, Ohio (1896). Published by Rerick Bros., Richmond, IN. Used courtesy of the Richland County Historical Society.

I put a call out on Facebook, asking for a photograph of the house, before I realized it was no longer standing. Alan Wigton, President of the Richland County Historical Society, was among the first to respond. He did end up pointing out my error - but he also provided this photograph of the house, taken in 1896.

A massive front porch was added, and a bit of gingerbread had been affixed to the peak of the gable. The 8 over 8 windows present in 1857 were replaced with 1 over 1 ones and the shutters were removed, too.

Note the lions on the front stoop. They seem a bit large for the space where they're sitting, I think. They appear to be the lions in Cohen's painting!

Enough of the house. Who were the Runyans?

This passage (History of Richland County, Ohio (1880), pages 730-731) provides as complete a background on the Runyan family as I've been able to find.
RUNYAN, BENTLEY S. (deceased). The subject of this sketch, who was one of the active and prominent business men of Mansfield for over twenty years, was born in Knox Co., Ohio, March 6, 1821; he was the eighth child of Hill and Mary L. Runyan, who were old residents of that county; in the month of April, 1847, he removed to Mansfield, where he opened a hardware store, near the southeast corner of Walnut and Fourth streets; in the fall of the same year, he changel his location to a room south of Fourth on Main street, where he remained until after purchasing the building south of the present European Hotel, in which place for many years he did a large and extensive business, it being the chief hardware store in the city. During his residence in this city, he was prominent in all public and charitable enterprises, and his name was generally found at the head of the list of those citizens who petitioned and subscribed in the interest of the city and its inhabitants; he was one of the founders of the Mansfield Gas-Light Company, and served as one of its officers, and was elected on an independent ticket as Mayor of the city, in which capacity he gave universal satisfaction; for many years he was an active member and oflicer of the Richland Co. Agricultural Society, the success of which was due in a great measure to his efforts.

He was married in Mount Vernon, Ohio, to Miss Lucinda Murphy, of that place, Jan. 14, 1844; five children by this marriage are living - John Beatley, now a resident of Tiffin, Ohio, where he holds the position of Teller in the Tiffin National Bank; Charles C., of the firm of Bush & Runyan, plumbers and gasfitters in this city; Robert Mead, iron-roofer and painter now in the employ of the Aultman & Taylor Co., and two daughters Almeda and Mary E.

B.S. Runyan died in this city Jan. 12, 1869; R. Mead Runyan was married in Mansfield Jan. 20, 1875 to Miss Ida Boyle; two sons were born to them - Frank born in 1876, died March 18, 1878; Harry was born Jan. 15, 1877.



Part 2 of this narrative, which will explain more of the history of this house and how it changed over time, will appear next week.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Condemned: The Best Frame Italianate House on Cleveland's East Side

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

Two weeks ago, I brought public attention again to this impressive historic home, built in 1874. The response was impressive. I first detailed this massive 3,500 square foot house back on November 9, 2009 (The best frame Italianate house I've seen in Cleveland). It's also covered in Hidden History of Cleveland (History Press, 2011), pages 119-120.

When I drove by today, I saw that the property had been condemned. This means that if the code violations named in the condemnation notice are not corrected by the date specified (December 25, 2011) the structure may be demolished to abate the nuisances specified in the condemnation notice. I've reproduced the notice in full below. The code violations themselves are on pages 3 and 4.

Condemnation notice, 6512 Superior Avenue, page 1

Condemnation notice, 6512 Superior Avenue, page 2

Condemnation notice, 6512 Superior Avenue, page 3

Condemnation notice, 6512 Superior Avenue, page 4

Condemnation notice, 6512 Superior Avenue, page 5

The question at this point is whether housing court is able to reach the owner and take action there, perhaps transferring the house either to a third party or the county land bank before the city moves forward to demolish it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Threatened: The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

I first detailed this massive 3,500 square foot house back on November 9, 2009 (The best frame Italianate house I've seen in Cleveland). It's also covered in Hidden History of Cleveland (History Press, 2011), pages 119-120.

The house was built in 1874. We can learn some details of the construction, thanks to a court case involving payment involving the contract for the house:

"Agreement entered into this 8th day of October, 1874, between Jan Zoeter and A.W. Lamson, whereby said Jan Zoeter this day agrees to sell to A.W. Lamson a certain house and lot situated upon the south side of Superior street between Norwood street and Denham avenue, being the first lot east" [east of an existing house belonging to one Mr. Griffin (AFN: 188111190002) - actually Ernest Giffhorn] and so on describing the property.

Then follows: "Said house being now in course of erection and completion, said house to be finished in every respect by said Zoeter in a good workmanlike manner, with inside walk and fences, well and cistern, lot graded and sodded, and barn, all to be conveyed to said Lamson by a good warranty deed free from incumbrances when finished. Said A.W. Lamson agrees to pay the said Zoeter for the same the sum of $8,000, $2,000 down, the balance, $6,000, in four equal annual payments, secured by a mortgage on said premises, and at 7 per cent interest; said payments to bear date the day when possession is given of said Lamson. This contract is subject to verbal arrangements between the parties as to the manner of finishing said house.

Reprint of Decisions of Ohio Courts (Below Supreme Court): Contained in the Cleveland Law Reporter, Volumes 1 & 2 (1878-1879), Cleveland Law Record, 1856. Cleveland Law Register, 1893.
Weekly Law Bulletin, 1897, pages 235-237.

Alfred W. Lamson was a principal in the law firm of Pennewell & Lamson. He later served as a judge on the court of common pleas in Cleveland. (Special thanks to Craig Bobby for his work in tracking down this information and several other small but important facts that would have otherwise been omitted.)

The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side
Circa 1956. Photograph courtesy of the Cuyahoga County Archives

Here's a photo of the house from the 1950s. Virtually all of the detail present in this historic photo remains.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

A recent photo from a similar angle illustrates just how much the trees and bushes hide the beauty of the house.



Alfred W. Lamson lived in this house until 1879.

As a result of the lawsuit mentioned above, wherein which Lamson owed Jan Zoeter $7,063.41 on this house, the property was sold at sheriff's sale, in 1881, and returned to Jan Zoeter (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 188111190002).

Jan and Jane Zoeter remained owners of the property for a decade, until 1891, when they sold the house to Stephen Taylor, for $7,000 (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 189106130002). In 1895, Taylor sold the house to Byron E. Helman, for $8,500 (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 189508130036). Two years later, Helman sold the house to Phillip Platten, for the same price (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 18970721001).

Phillip Platten sold the property to George W. Ford, in 1906 (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 190602130007). Later the same year, Ford sold the property to John J. and Rosa J. Fischer, Swiss immigrants (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 190611160053, 1920 U.S. Census). The Fischers would remain in the house for the rest of their lives (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 190902270025 and 192903140066). After Rosa's death in 1929, the property transferred to their children, Otto J. Fisher, Ernest J. Fischer, and Johanna R. Fischer.

Otto worked as a superintendent in a steel mill, while his brother, Ernest, worked in one as a toolmaker (1920 U.S. Census).

Otto, Ernest, and Johanna kept the house as their residence for the next 30 years. It only transferred out of the family after the last of three, Johanna, died in 1961 (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 195703020029; 196104080041; 196109060005).

Johanna Fischer's estate sold the house to Francis and Adele Neimanas, who also lived their for the rest of their lives, April 29, 200, and March 26, 1994, respectively. In 2004, their heirs sold the house to James Baker (Cuyahoga County Recorder, AFN: 200304030916; AFN: 200405041037; AFN: 200405041038; AFN: 200405041039).



The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side

Let's take a look at the house itself. As you approach the front porch, you notice that the front of the house appears to be stone. This is, in fact, not stone or faux painting, but wood carved to look like stone.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

The columns that support the front porch feature incredibly detailed carvings.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

The windows also feature intricate carvings.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

Here's a detail of one of the windows. Imagine how expensive it would be to have just one piece like this made today.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

You'r greeted by the massive front doors, which somehow have remained intact.

Banister, the best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side

Once you step inside, you can see the stairs to the second floor. This massive bannister provides both visual and physical support for the railing. Note the trim on the side of the stairs, as well as the faux painting on the baseboard in the background. It's rare for such a surface treatment to remain intact.

The spindles have been replaced,yes, but I'm sure suitable replacements could be found at a reasonable price from Buffalo ReUse.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

When you step into the front room and look back at the stairs, you notice that the trim and doorway here, too, remain original and even retain their original finish - the only thing marring the door is a deadbolt lock.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

An arched doorway with pocket doors separates the front room from the one behind it.

Plaster ceiling medallion, the best frame Italianate house on the east side

Even the plaster ceiling medallion - which would have had a light fixture hanging from the center - remains intact. There are similar ceiling medallions, in similar condition, in many of the rooms.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

The pocket doors remain functional, as demonstrated so ably by my assistant.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

Then you step back into this room. Like the front room, it had a fireplace.


Photograph by Tim Barrett

I suspect that the fireplaces were marble, like those in the Beckenbach residence, just across the street, shown here. It's worth noting that the Beckenbach residence and St. George's Lithuanian Church have been saved, which bodes well for this community.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

If we take the stairs up to the second floor, we observe similarly high finish quality.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

A hallway leads from the front to the back of the house. Toward the end of the hallway, a curved wall provides a visual separation between the front of the house and the area where the help would have lived.

Yes, there are some problems that become obvious here, the most notable being falling plaster in the rear rooms. The roof will likely need to be redone. I don't expect there to be significant structural issues - there is no evidence of water inside right now.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

The little details are worth noting, too, like this doorknob, one of a few different varieties in the house, all correct to the period.

The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side

Even the latches on the windows are beautifully detailed.

The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side

Another look at the exterior reveals more impressive trim. Here, we can see the original wood gutters and the fine detail present.

The best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side

The house, while quite large, at 3,500 square feet, sits comfortably on the lot.

The best frame Italianate house on the east side

And just when you thought that's all there was to see, something else catches your attention, hidden behind the trees - a carriage house! The structure, with the beautiful arched doorways, for both people and carriages, is an extremely rare example at best. A view from the rear reveals large holes in the roofing material. While it can and should be saved, it will take some work.


For a house that has sat vacant for so long, the condition is impressive. (According to the neighbors I spoke with, it's been empty for at least seven years.)

Why is it threatened? Because the city is trying to condemn as many houses as possible. Vacant structures like this one, no matter how impressive, are easy targets - especially when their owners are uninterested in doing anything with them.

The Lamson house is the best frame Italianate house on Cleveland's east side - this isn't an exaggeration. For the price of new plumbing and a new roof, you could call it home.

Need more information? Check out my full set of photos of the house.
 
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