Showing posts with label demolished. Show all posts
Showing posts with label demolished. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Strange Disappearing Houses of the Lomond Neighborhood, in Shaker Heights, Ohio

My colleague, Korbi Roberts, put together this video, The Strange Disappearing Houses of the Lomond Neighborhood, in Shaker Heights, Ohio. It illustrates that the issues concerning the demolition of homes in historic neighborhoods are not limited to the inner city.

Rather than reading my continued ramblings (I could go on and on, you know) please take a look at the video.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cleveland Historic Schools Feasibility Study

Cleveland School of the Arts

With so much discussion of late regarding the demolition of historic Cleveland schools - most notably, of John Marshall High School and of the Cleveland School of the Arts - it seems worthwhile to look at why these buildings are being demolished.

I recently obtained a copy of Cleveland Historic Schools Feasibility Study, a report created by the Cleveland Restoration Society in 2006. Although the cost and population estimates have both changed since that date, the general numbers as well as the conclusions remain valid and worth taking a look at. In fact, if you care at all about preserving historic schools anywhere in Ohio, this is essential reading.

To quote the introduction to the document:
The Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) undertook the Cleveland Historic Schools Feasibility Study as a means to better understand the guidelines used by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC), the state agency in Ohio that oversees and funds school building projects. Our goal was to examine four historic school buildings currently scheduled for demolition in the Cleveland Municipal School District Facilities Master Plan to determine if these buildings could be renovated to meet current educational standards and still receive full funding from OSFC.

The four schools covered: William Cullen Bryant; Albert Bushnell Hart; Audubon; and Robert Fulton, are evaluated in detail, with illustrations of their merits and liabilities. Full architectural renderings, including floor plans of existing and proposed conditions are provided.

A few surprises caught my attention:
  • Demolition and environmental abatement costs are not included in the the OSFC's replacement costs.
  • The OSFC's estimates of the square footage of the buildings is higher (in once case, considerably higher) than the actual square footage, resulting in the OSFC estimating rehab costs to be considerably higher than they should be. How much higher?
    • 34% (William Cullen Bryant)
    • 11% (Albert Bushnell Hart)
    • 8% (Audubon)
    • 23% (Robert Fulton)

The CRS sums up the findings of the report far better than I can, so I'll quote them directly:
These proposed design solutions demonstrate that historic school buildings can be successfully renovated to meet 21st century standards and to provide a high level of educational adequacy. We can preserve these neighborhood landmarks and not only have
schools that are just as good as new, but better than new because of the materials, craftsmanship, and artistry that have been handed down to us
that we could not afford to replicate today. Not only can be have facilities that are better than new, we can save significant resources by
preserving older buildings. The Cleveland Municipal School District can save $17.1 million dollars by preserving the four buildings presented
in this study. We hope this cost savings will convince district administrators to reconsider using renovation and new additions as an alternative to replacing many of the City’s significant historic school buildings.

Please, take a look at the Cleveland Historic Schools Feasibility Study - if we're to preserve these historic buildings, we need to understand the financial issues behind their repair or replacement.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cleveland's Oldest House - Identified

Cleveland's Oldest House
Photo from the Cleveland Press Collection, used courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project.

Last week, I shared this photograph, of a structure said to be Cleveland's Oldest House. The caption noted that it was located at West 93rd and Lorain - but I couldn't find anything in the historic maps of that area that matched up with the footprint of the house.

I offered a signed copy of Hidden History of Cleveland, for anyone who could identify the location of the structure or whose house it actually was.

Craig Bobby took up the task. He said,
I decided to "look up" whatever I could regarding the alleged Lorenzo Carter house, demolished in 1932, by looking in the Press, circa September 15, 1932. I did succeed in finding what was needed, published, by the way, in that very same date's edition.

Detail, 1913 Sanborn
Detail, 1913 Sanborn map. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library. Loren is the street running left-right near the bottom of the image. Our house is at the corner of Loren and East 93rd, the street running top to bottom.

He continued,
This house was neither at West 93rd nor Lorain; it was at East 93rd and Loren. This would be a small number of blocks north of Harvard, just outside of the original Newburgh Village. The article misidentifies the side-street as 'Lauren'. Its exact address was 3890 East 93rd -- it was on the northwest corner. You could see, from looking at the 1913 Sanborn map, that the house was set back considerably from the street. It has such a setback on both the 1881 and 1858 maps. The house behind it in the 1932 photo was the first house on the north side of Loren.

Detail, Plate 26, 1881 City Atlas of Cleveland, Ohio
Detail, Plate 26, 1881 City Atlas of Cleveland, Ohio - used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library

Craig Bobby said,
I checked the 1881 City Of Cleveland Atlas and the 1858 Cuyahoga County Map. This house was on the property of Alonzo Carter, not Lorenzo Carter. I also looked at various historic Censuses and found an Alonzo Carter in Newburgh as far back as 1850. Both the 1840 and 1830 censuses have an Alonzo Carter living in Brooklyn, not Newburgh. I personally believe that they are all the same person. Those older censuses only listed age-groups, but, considering this, they seem to be about the same person, with knowing that the 1850 census has his age as being 60. Assuming from all of this that Alonzo Carter moved from Brooklyn to Newburgh sometime between 1840 and 1850, I think that it could be legitimately suggested that the house was built by him whenever that was that he arrived there in Newburgh. If not, then he acquired an already-built house. Regardless of the story of the alleged "primitive" construction features made visible during demolition, I still can not accept that this house was built in 1800 -- at least not the house as we see it in the photo. Could it have been a log cabin extensively remodeled in later years? We will never know.

The Dictionary Of Cleveland Biography article on Lorenzo Carter says that he had a son named Alonzo. I am willing to believe that this is that person. The Dictionary says Lorenzo was at least born in Connecticut, while the 1850 census says that Alonzo was born in Vermont. Lorenzo could have moved from Connecticut to Vermont -- they are quite near each other. The 1850 census also says that Alonzo Carter had a son named 'Lorain'. I believe that this is a misspelling; I bet his name was Loren (likely a 'diminutive' of Lorenzo). This should 'explain' why the side-street was named Loren. And, according to the Cleveland Necrology File, Alonzo Carter died in 1872 (quite possibly in this very house) at the ripe old age of 82.

Cleveland's Oldest House is Razed

He was kind enough to provide a copy of the article as well.

For his efforts, Craig Bobby will receive a signed copy of Hidden History of Cleveland.

While we now have the correct location for the photo, we are left with more answers than questions. Perhaps someone else, at some future date, will take interest in this and see what else can be learned about the history of this historic home.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cleveland's Oldest House

Cleveland's Oldest House
Photo from the Cleveland Press Collection, used courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project.

When I come across a photo with the title "Cleveland's Oldest House", I can't resist. Such was the case with this photograph, found on the Cleveland Memory Project. (For the record, the amount of new stuff that continues to show up there is just ridiculous. How am I supposed to keep track of so much interesting new material?)

The description of this photo, from the Cleveland Press Collection, reads "Old Lorenzo Carter Homestead, Cleveland's Oldest House, Lorain Ave. and 93rd St., Cleveland apartments and residences, Built 1800, Razed 1932." It's dated September 15, 1932.

There are several problems with this caption. I've yet to see any evidence that Lorenzo Carter lived in this vicinity - he is known to have lived much much closer to downtown Cleveland. Further, I wasn't able to locate a pair of structures meeting the profile of the two shown here on the Sanborn fire insurance maps for the area in question.

Still, it seems strange that this would all be wrong - there must be some factual basis behind some of it, right?

The house definitely fits the period - it dates between 1800 and 1830. It would help if the photograph hadn't been retouched so heavily, but there's not much that can be done about that now.

Who was this house really built for? Where was it located? What else can we learn about it?

Answer any one of these or provide substantial information that helps in the process and you could win a copy of my forthcoming book, Hidden History of Cleveland. (I'll do a random drawing from all the answers that help lead to the identification of the structure.)

To help in this quest, Bill Barrow, Special Collections Librarian at Cleveland State University, has been kind enough to let me use a full resolution copy of the image (2750x2200!) - click on the image to get through to the bigger file. Perhaps there is some clue hidden away in it that will help answer the question.

How might one start the search? Perhaps one might find the corresponding article in the Cleveland Press. Or perhaps there's another spot that seems right. Or perhaps a historic map reveals something that I've missed. Wherever you find the clues, post them here or on our Facebook page and join in the conversation!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Peter Lloyd residence

Photo by Mark Andrew Kearney, Architect

Several months ago, I came across these photos of a stunning modern house at 35850 South Woodland Road, in Moreland Hills. The photos were taken shortly before the house was demolished, in 2003.

At the time, I had tried to learn who the architect was, without any success. I recently learned that it was Ernst Payer, one of the foremost residential architects in midcentury Cleveland. The house was built in 1953.

Richard N. Campen provides some insights into the house in his 1982 manuscript, A Career in Architecture: the Ernst Payer Approach. Copies of the typewritten document are located in the collections of the Cleveland Public Library, and the libraries of John Carroll University and the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Photo by Mark Andrew Kearney, Architect

Here we see the rear of this 5,600 square foot house, built on what was at one time a 20 acre lot. The four bedrooms on the second floor shared a balcony and what must have been a lovely view. On the first floor, from left to right are a patio with barbecue, screened-in porch, and service wing, which included a garage and quarters for the help.

Photo by Mark Andrew Kearney, Architect

The massive slate squares that make up the floor throughout can be seen here at the intersection of the patio and screened-in porch. This space was clearly designed with entertaining in mind. One might note the screening to provide some privacy for those on the patio. Steel columns support the second floor.

Photo by Mark Andrew Kearney, Architect

Campen notes that the gallery, seen here, is "surfaced with redwood over which a plywood panel covered with grass-cloth is mounted as a background for paintings." It was designed specifically to house the couple's art collection. To the left, a wall of built-in cabinets is visible. Campen notes that it is "exquisitely fitted with cupboards, sliding doors, etc." and that it was designed to hold a television, Hi-Fi equipment, and a bar.

Photo by Mark Andrew Kearney, Architect

The wall of cabinets continues into a pair of fireplaces, in the living room. Campen notes that Payer was also responsible for the original landscaping and interior decoration - it is unclear how much of either remained in 2003.

Photo by Mark Andrew Kearney, Architect

The form of the awning can be clearly seen in this image, and we can imagine the views that might be present from this point. The house was designed around these views, as evidenced by the large windows throughout.

As I noted above, Ernst Payer was one of the most significant modern architects practicing in Cleveland. He was one of six architects to receive a two page spread in Cleveland Goes Modern. Richard N. Campen called this house "one of his more important residential commissions." It's of such a caliber that it would have surely been featured in Cleveland Goes Modern if it had still been standing.

Why, then, was the house demolished? It was in good condition, without any obvious significant flaws. The value of the land it sat upon was greater, it seems, than the perceived value of the house. As a result, we lost what should have been seen as one of the landmarks of modern architecture in Cleveland.

It's not just 19th century structures that we have to watch out for. We need to preserve the most important pieces of our built history regardless of age. The structures of the mid-20th century present a special set of challenges - namely, that many were designed to be invisible to the outsider - and as a result, they aren't part of our collective consciousness. We need to look harder to find them, before they are losts.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cleveland in 1927, part 3

I recently obtained ten 4x5 glass plate negatives of Cleveland scenes, taken in 1927. Thanks to the assistance of Bill Barrow, Special Collections Librarian at Cleveland State University and the Digital Production Unit there I was able to get the negatives digitized at 1200 dpi. This provides a very high resolution look at these parts of Cleveland.

In the first post in this series, I shared a few scenes that were reasonably familiar - the Terminal Tower, the Arcade, and Public Auditorium. In the second post, I shared two views of Central Avenue (now Carnegie Avenue) at East 14th Street. In this post, we will continue southeast, looking at an area that have been completely changed by the interstate highway system and the construction of Jacobs Field.

Central Avenue, looking northeast

It took me a long time to figure out where this photograph was taken. Unlike the other photographs, there weren't any obvious street signs or named buildings that are still extant. Finally, I saw two buildings in the distance that I knew - the YMCA and the Walker and Weeks building. Between the two, in the haze, one can also make out the outline of a church. From this, I was able to see that the photograph was also taken of Carnegie Avenue (at the time Central Avenue).

The photographer appears to have been on the top of a building, on the north side of Carnegie, at about East 7th Street. In the distance, the water tower and smokestacks of the Independent Towel Company are visible. Near the right side of the image, a square tower with four small domes is Acme Hall. The Hall faced East 9th Street, the intersection of which is visible in the midground.

A poster in the alley advertises a film of the fight between Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. On the right side of the street, underneath a billboard for Meadow Butter is the Sencabaugh Company, a grocery wholesaler.

Central Avenue, at Broadway, looking northeast

This view, still looking northeast, shows the intersection with Broadway. As a point of reference, the tower of Acme Hall is visible just behind the traffic light, in the middle of the intersection. The water tower of the coffee company that was visible in the second post can be seen here, from the opposite side. Finally, the Botzum Bros. sign that was visible in the previous photograph can just be seen above the far end of the streetcar. Note the interesting truck on the right, on Broadway, just about to pull onto (or cross) Central.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Day-Glo House

As I was reading The Day-Glo Brothers, there was one passage that particularly caught my eye. "After Joe got married in 1938, he and his wife, Elise, moved into a run-down old farmhouse so that he would have room for his own laboratory." On the following page, we learn that soon after, they figured out how to make lightfast Day-Glo pigments.

A house in Cleveland where an important invention occurred? I had to find it! I searched the County Recorder's property records, but the first one I could find for Joseph Switzer was in 1941. In that year, he moved to 1003 Elbon Road, a new house, in Cleveland Heights, presumably as a result of the success of his invention. I checked some other sources, without any luck.

Finally, I emailed the author of The Day-Glo Brothers, Chris Barton, who was quite helpful provided me with contact information that I would need to find the answer. After sending off an email, something occurred to me - why not check the most obvious source - city directories for the years in question!

I called the History and Geography Department at Cleveland Public Library. In a matter of minutes, the librarian informed me that, in 1939 and 1940, the address for Joseph Switzer was listed as 1592 Crawford Road.

A quick check indicated that whatever house had been at that address was no longer standing. I was pretty sure that that area was covered in the set of photos of Hough that I'd digitized from property cards in the Cuyahoga County Archives. I couldn't find the address among the group.

I was suspicious about the presence of a structure described as a "farmhouse" in that area, though I shouldn't have been - Crawford Road has been in place since before 1852.

1913 Sanborn fire insurance map (detail)

I searched Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Ohio, a database provided through Cleveland Public Library, using the closest cross streets. In this detail of the resuling page, Crawford Road is not labeled. The house at 1592 is sited considerably further from the road than the neighboring houses, consistent with a house built before the rest of the neighborhood. With this image showing the outline of the houses, I started looking at the property card photos again.


I had been able to verify that this parcel, 107-17-027, was 1600 Crawford Road.


A small part of the house in parcel 107-17-025 can be seen in the preceding photo, and vice versa. Further, it is consistent with the shape of the house shown on the map at 1598 Crawford. To the right, we can see a house sited far back from the road - 1592 Crawford!


This is parcel 107-17-024 - 1592 Crawford Road. While we can't see the neighbor's houses, it is clearly the same house that we can see part of in the photo of 1598 Crawford. Additionally, it matches exactly the footprint shown on the map.

It could definitely be desribed as a "run-down old farmhouse". I can't be more sure of a date of construction than the 1850s, 1860s, or 1870s - and probably more likely the more recent end of that string of dates.

Of note is the brick structure at the rear of the lot, which we can make out part of the sign - "Laboratories". This would surely have been the perfect place for an inventor doing chemical research to work. It was later described, in a real estate as as "A completely equipped experimental shop, brick and concrete construction; shop approximately 1,800 sq. ft." (Plain Dealer, July 22, 1949, page 24)

The laboratory structure was already present when Switzer began renting here - surely, it was part of why he chose to live in this location. It was either built or used by E.K. Hill, Jr., a food scientist. (Plain Dealer, September 9, 1931, page 11)

Fred E. Switzer was kind enough to provide this bit of an oral history, recorded by Elise Switzer in 1991, describing the house and their decision to rent it. "At a certain point when it was really bad Joe, and Bob wanted to have the lab work, where Joe was inventing stuff, separate from the Continental Lithograph Company and Forbes Ink so that they could claim shop rights, or something like that. There was an old house on Crawford Road; it was a terrible old house." She does on to describe the exterior, saying "The last time it had been painted was fifty years before, and they had painted it silver, if you can imagine. I mean aluminum."

I was hoping, had the house been standing, to see if we could have it painted in Day-Glo colors, to commemorate Switzer's invention. Perhaps that would have been taking things a bit over the top.

This brings to light the fact that we need to work now more than ever to identify where the important discoveries and ideas in our city actually occurred, and to document and preserve them.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cars, Beer, and the Law

The Peerless Automobile Factory, the Carling Brewery, and the new Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center

Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center

By now, you've probably heard about the new Cuyahoga County Juvenile Justice Center, under construction at the southeast corner of Quincy Avenue and East 93rd Street, in the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland. Little has been said, however, about the previous uses of the site.

In 1906, the Peerless Motor Car Company, one of the finest manufacturers of automobiles in the country, built a factory on this site. Architect J. Milon Dyer designed the factory. Dyer was also responsible for the Cleveland Coast Guard Station, the Cleveland City Hall, the Tavern Club, and the Brown-Hoist building.

The factory, seen here in an early 20th century view, stretched all the way to Woodland Avenue. While the portions of the factory between Quincy and the train tracks have been demolished, some structures remain between the tracks and Woodland.

The following photographs, created by the Historic American Buildings Survey, illustrate the history of this complex.

1979, Jet Lowe for the Historic American Buildings Survey

The factory's office building, shown here, faced Quincy Avenue. Dyer's work on the structure received considerable praise.
Its "front of attractive design" showed the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright in its geometric stone ornament and globe-capped pylons and of the Art Nouveau in its metal and glass entrance canopy and doors. Architecturally, the office building was "25 years ahead of its day."

February 28, 1966, Martin Lindsey for the Historic American Buildings Survey

The aesthetic quality continued to the interior. The Art Nouveau influence is especially visible in the railing on this set of stairs.

In 1931 Peerless closed its business, unable to find a market for luxury cars during the depression. The business was reorganized and eventually became the Carling Brewing Company. The automobile factory was repurposed as a brewery, which operated until 1971. C. Schmidt & Sons, purchased the brewery and ran its operations from the plant from 1972-84.

Most of the complex was demolished in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The Historic American Buildgs Survey has two sets of documentation regarding the factory. Their documentation addresses the history of the structure and of the Peerless operations in Cleveland in detail.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lost: Hathaway Brown School and Laurel School

Image courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project

Yesterday, the Cleveland Clinic demolished one of the last vestiges of the once great Euclid Avenue, an impressive dark sandstone building at 1945 East 97th Street, designed by architects Hubbell and Benes for Hathaway Brown School in 1905. The school used this building as its home until 1927, when it moved to Shaker Heights. Some of the firm's other notable commissions include the West Side Market, the YMCA, and the Ohio Bell Building.

Laurel School

The Clinic will soon, probably today or tomorrow, demolish another building in the complex, the home of Laurel School from 1909-1928.

Hathaway Brown School Site

This is all that remained yesterday of the Hathaway Brown building. It is shameful that the Cleveland Clinic was unable to find an adaptive reuse for this historic structure. They've done an excellent job of repurposing the 1901 Henry P. White house, at 8937 Euclid Avenue. Surely they could have found a use for this structure of similar character.

It has become clear that the Cleveland Clinic has little regard for the history of the area that has supported it and helped it grow. The last major building the Clinic demolished, the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine, is now surface parking. While the need for parking is clear, I, for one, would be in favor of zoning variances allowing larger parking garages if it would guarantee the Clinic would save some of these buildings.

Take another look at the Cleveland Play House. Is there any doubt that the Cleveland Clinic will demolish the structure as soon as they take ownership of it?

I encourage you to contact the president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, Delos Cosgrove, M.D., to let him know your feelings on this subject. He can be reached by phone at 216-444-2300 or by mail at:

Delos Cosgrove
Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
Mail Code H18
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195

Monday, January 11, 2010

The demolition of the Cleveland Cadillac Company building

The recently demolished Corlett Building on the campus of Cleveland State University (1935 Euclid Avenue) was originally home to a vehicle showroom constructed by The Cleveland Cadillac Company in 1914, a local distributor for the Detroit automaker. There were several other tenants in the building at the time that the location was used as a car dealership, including R.G. Miller Coal Co. and City Ice and Fuel Co.

It later became known as the Corlett Building due to the land originally having been the site of the home and office space of Dr. William T. Corlett. Dr. Corlett was a dermatologist and physician in the early 1900’s, in the time of Millionaire’s Row.

The building for the Cleveland Cadillac Company was designed by well known Cleveland architects, Knox and Elliott. It had an art deco feel to it, complete with gargoyles and sleek geometric lines and shapes. According to the former Cadillac Museum manager, Greg Wallace, the Cadillac branch offices were fairly similar in their basic design. It is unknown if Knox & Elliott served as the architect for all of the branch locations.

As noted here, Downtown Chevrolet (or Luby Chevrolet) occupied the site after the Cleveland Cadillac Company from 1925 to 1965. In the 1970's, the Cleveland Recording Company moved into the building and even received an award from the Plain Dealer for their renovation of the space. In 1977 Cleveland State University purchased the property.

Unfortunately now, the building remains no longer.

In past issues of The Cleveland Stater, there were several different ideas of how to utilize the building, but at the same time it was noted that the building could eventually meet its demise. In 2000, CSU's newspaper reported that the Corlett building could be demolished at some point. This seems confusing because in the same article it was also noted that the structure was part of CSU's master plan of development.

In 2001 the structure was being looked at as a potential site for the partnership between CSU and WVIZ for the Advanced Digital Technology Center as well as the site for the bookstore.

In 2003 the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately, this does not protect against demolition.

One year later in 2004, the future of Corlett was addressed in the Cleveland Stater again. The Cleveland Municipal School district had a lease on the building through the end of 2005, and cost estimates for renovations for use by CSU were estimated at around $10 million.

Nothing else appears to be noted by the campus newspaper about the building until the July 8, 2009 issue when the demolition announcement is made. The article indicates some of the architectural features were salvaged for use on the property in the future. For now, parking and a green space are slated for the site, followed by a farmer’s market, with eventual plans for a visual arts center.

In the first three pieces I’ve contributed to this blog, coincidentally two of them are about buildings designed by Knox & Elliott. One of them has been demolished and the other is on the brink of disintegration. Taking into account the Northeast Ohio buildings credited to Knox & Elliott on the Landmarks Commission website, right now only 43% of the structures are still standing. This leads me to pose the following question; how many buildings do we demolish before we allow an architect’s imprint on our region to disappear?