Thursday, May 23, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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. 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.
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 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)
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).
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 23 June 1876, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 8 May 1880, page 4. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
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.
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 16 December 1876, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
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.
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.
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 13 July 1885, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 14 July 1885, page 1. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
Published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 14 July 1885, page 3. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
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, May 3, 2013
[Granville Female College]. A drawing (1830s?). Used courtesy of Garth's Auctions.
When I first saw the thumbnail for this drawing in the current catalogue at Garth's Auctions, I knew the composition was familiar - namely, it was a subject illustrated in a lithograph by one M. French, made between 1835 and 1839, in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. The date for the drawing was listed as "mid 19th century" - I hoped that the lithograph might provide some context - most likely the size of the trees - that would give a more specific date.
On further examination, I've come to see that they're a lot closer in composition - and likely date - than I had initially guessed.
Female academy, Granville Ohio. A lithograph (between 1835 and 1839) from a drawing by M. French. Printed by Bufford's Lith. Used courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society.
There are quite a few elements shared by both images. A woman in a white dress stands in the front door of the Academy, with two women in dark dresses immediately to the right. The chimney of the house to the left ends up centered in a second floor window in both cases - even though they have rather different perspectives. The trees both show approximately the same amount of growth. Many (though not all) of the same windows are open on the front of the structure. There's even a similarity in the toning of the sky.
The drawing features central chimneys, while the print has more of them, smaller in size. In the drawing, the gable has a single window, while in the print, there are two smaller ones. In the print, the house is closer to the street, while in the drawing, it appears to have been moved back. In the drawing, which has a more crude sense of perspective, we can see more detail in the house to the right. The print has a different fence from the drawing.
It seems likely that these two images share some sort of common source - but what that source is, I do not know.
They have enough in common that one might start to consider if the drawing was a copy after the print - but the lack of the same skill in perspective tends to refute this.
My guess - and it is a guess - is that these were the product of two students, working under the same teacher at Granville Female Academy at the same time. On a given day, they went out and made sketches together. They included some suggestions about perspective - and some idealized items (the people walking on the street) as suggested, perhaps by the teacher. It might be worth the time to see if an "M. French" was, indeed, a student there at that time.
This pair appears to provide a look at how two artists, one more skilled than the other, approached the same subject at the same time.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
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, February 15, 2013
Ohio River Landscape / The Steamboat Washington. An oil painting (circa 1820). Used courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Schwartz, Paterson, NJ. Reproduced from Folk Painters of America (1979) by Robert Bishop.
As part of my research, I've been reading Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900: A Biographyical Dictionary, (2000) edited by Mary Sayre Haverstock, Jeannette Mahoney Vance, and Brian L. Meggitt. This 1066 page tome includes perhaps 10,000 artists active in Ohio in or before 1900. I've been reading it, seeking out all of the artists active in or before 1865.
Two weeks ago, I identified the painting shown here as a Cincinnati scene. At center is the Kilgour house, built about 1820. To the right, the city's first water works. At the left, Deer Creek empties into the Ohio River.
The Forest Queen in Winter. A painting (1857) by Martin Andreas Reisner. Used courtesy of Richard and Jane Manoogian. Image used courtesy of The Athenaeum.
This morning, while reading Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900, I came across a citation for this 1857 painting, The Forest Queen in Winter by Martin Andreas Reisner. The authors noted that, in 1857, Reisner "visited Cincinnati (Hamilton), a portrino of whose riverfont features prominently in The Forest Queen in Winter (Manoogian Collection)."
To my surprise, I was able to locate a high quality image of the painting. It appears to be based, in part, on the same landscape! Mount Adams is present in the background. The Kilgour house is present, just to the right of center. The Little Miami Railroad runs along the river.
Detail, Cincinnati Panorama. A daguerreotype (1848) by Charles Fontayne and William S. Porter. Used courtesy of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
When compared with this photograph, made nine years earlier, it's obvious that Martin Andreas Reisner took considerable liberties. The commercial buildings are all gone - either he envisioned the landscape without them, or, perhaps, he was working based on an earlier view of the area. On the other hand, he retains what appears to be a bit of commercial activity based around the (considerably smaller) Deer Creek. Yet if we are to see this as something based on an earlier work, why the inclusion of the railroad?
This view clearly involves a bit of imagination and artistic license. This doesn't diminish its value as a look at Cincinnati in the 1850s. Further, given the rarity of winter views, it seems perfect for a day like today.
What do you see in it?
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Lake Erie, From Cleveland. A watercolor painting (July, 1833) by Seth Eastman. Used courtesy of Sloans and Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, Bethesda, Maryland.
When I think about downtown Cleveland and the mouth of the Cuyahoga, images of industry and commerce come to mind. While I know it wasn't always this way, this area has so long been the heart of the city it's hard to imagine it otherwise. Even Thomas Whelpley's four views of the city, published in 1834, show a quickly-growing city.
It's for that very reason that this watercolor, made by Seth Eastman in July, 1833, is so special - it represents the earliest detailed painting I'm aware of of the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.
Eastman probably came through Cleveland en route from Fort Snelling, in Minnesota, to West Point, New York, where he had received a teaching appointment. He appears to have been looking west from what is now the intersection of West Sixth Streets and Lakeside Avenue.
In the foreground, to the right, there's a group of five Native Americans, said to be Iroquois. A few people sit on the hillside, where a row of fenceposts is visible. Closer to the river are a couple of buildings, one of which appears to be a log house. On the river, there are what could be canal boats. The pier and harbor light are also present. The hill at the mouth of the Cuyahoga, on the west bank, had not yet been flattened. A steamship, with a cloud of black smoke, sails on Lake Erie. In the distance, we see what would come to be called the "Gold Coast."
These things are all significant.
There are almost no historic images of Native Americans in Ohio. Of those, virtually all were either made years after the fact, based on memory and conjecture or were made by artists who hadn't seen the people in question. I can't think of another painting (within the scope of my current research - before 1866) that documents Native Americans in Ohio at the time the painting was made.
The presence of a log building is also notable - there are very few known in northern Ohio. While there were a good number built (though not in such numbers as in the southern part of the state) they would have usually been covered with siding as soon as was practical, as a matter of fashion and appearance.
Further, this painting documents Cleveland at a point just before it underwent a major transformation. With the completion of the Ohio and Erie Canal, Cleveland and the interior of Ohio were opened up to commerce. The cost of shipping goods dropped considerably. Cuyahoga County's population would more than double between 1830 and 1840. It would almost double again by 1850. The landscape illustrated here would soon be gone.
Cleveland, 1853 A hand colored lithograph (1853) by B.F. Smith, after a drawing by J.W. Hill. Published by Smith Bros. & Co. Used courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society. Reproduced from Bird's Eye Views: Historic Lithographs of North American Cities by John W. Reps.
This view, made 20 years later, from the west bank of the Cuyahoga, looking east, shows the magnitude of the change. While the west bank still has plenty of vacant land, the east side and downtown are mostly built up. Warehouses line the banks of the Cuyahoga River. To the right, we see both the Cuyahoga River and the narrower Ohio and Erie Canal.
Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East. A hand-colored etching (1834) by Thomas Whelpley. Engraved by Milo Osborne. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
The point from where Seth Eastman made the watercolor is illustrated in this 1834 print, Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East.
Detail, Cleveland, Ohio, From Brooklyn Hill Looking East. A hand-colored etching (1834) by Thomas Whelpley. Engraved by Milo Osborne. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.
This detail, taken from the left side of the print, illustrates the location more clearly. Eastman's vantage point is indicated by the red arrow. Note the row of fenceposts, illustrated in the painting, to the left of the arrow. The yellow arrow indicates the location of the Cleveland lighthouse.
Detail, Lake Erie, From Cleveland. A watercolor painting (July, 1833) by Seth Eastman. Used courtesy of Sloans and Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, Bethesda, Maryland.
It's worth noting the presence of the harbor light, at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. This structure was likely completed a year or two earlier.
[Cleveland harbor] A print (1837) by Charles Whittlesey. Published in the Annual report on the geological survey of the State of Ohio (1837). Used courtesy of Ohio State University and the Internet Archive.
The pier upon which the harbor light was built is illustrated, top and center, in this drawing - letter "F". There's a square, on the right (east) side of the river that provided the foundation for the structure.
Cleveland Lighthouse on the Lake Erie. A hand-colored engraving (1839) by Pierre Eugène I. Aubert, after a drawing by Karl Bodmer. Published in Reise in das innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834 (1839) by Maximilian Wied. Used courtesy of the Beinecke Library, Yale University.
I've often heard suggested that this 1839 print, based on preliminary drawings and/or paintings made in 1834, doesn't actually portray the Cleveland lighthouse. What then, I ask, does it portray? The response tends to be a mumble that it's probably somewhere else.
It's been pointed out that the structure in the print doesn't look like the Cleveland lighthouse, nor is it located up on the hill like the Cleveland lighthouse was - see the point noted by the yellow arrow above.
Seth Eastman's painting, combined with Charles Whittlesey's map of the harbor seem to indicate that Karl Bodmer's print, Cleveland Lighthouse on the Lake Erie, does, in fact, depict a Cleveland scene. It's just that the structure being illustrated isn't the lighthouse but rather, the harbor light. Perhaps this was a translation issue.
Bodmer's vantage point appears to have been from the west bank of the Cuyahoga. It's worth noting that the physical relationship between the ship and the harbor light appears to be about the same in Seth Eastman's painting and Karl Bodmer's print. What does this mean? I do not know.
View of Inscription Rock on South side of Cunningham Island, Lake Erie. A print (1852) The print is based on a drawing by Seth Eastman created in 1850.
C. E. Wagstaff & J. Andrews (Engraver) Published in Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States; collected and prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847, Volume 2 (1852) by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Image used courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.
Seth Eastman is best known for the work he did portraying Native Americans - the greatest bulk of which appeared in Henry Rowe Schoolcraft's Historical and Statistical Information, Respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, published in the 1850s. This view of Kelley's Island is one such image.
Sculptured Inscriptions on Rock, South Side Of Cunningham's Island, Lake Erie. A pen and ink drawing (October 10, 1850) by Seth Eastman. Reproduced from Seth Eastman: A Portfolio of North American Indians (1995) by Sarah E. Boehme, Christian F. Feest, and Patricia Condon Johnston.
His record of Inscripion Rock on Kelley's Island, the original drawing for which is shown here, remains the best document that we have of this important, but now rather eroded, pictograph group.
Inscription Rock, North Side of Cunningham's Is., Lake Erie. A print (1852) by Seth Eastman, from a sketch made October 12, 1850. Published in Historical and statistical information respecting the history, condition, and prospects of the Indian tribes of the United States; collected and prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs per act of Congress of March 3rd, 1847, Volume 2 (1852) by Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Used courtesy of Cornell University Library and the Internet Archive.
Another boulder, now lost, inscribed with pictographs was present on the north shore of Kelley's Island, near the present state park campground.
Eastman's documentation of the island also included two earthworks.
Cleveland, Ohio Grocery Store [John Smith Grocer]. A drawing (October 9, 1850) by Seth Eastman. Used courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
In the course of his travels, Seth Eastman made drawings of the cities he passed through, along with other items not relating to the subject of his research. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has drawings by Eastman of Fairport Harbor and Sandusky, in addition to this one, of a grocer on the Cuyahoga River, in Cleveland.
After the initial discovery of this painting wore off, I started to suspect that the watercolor painting, Lake Erie, From Cleveland, might have been made in the 1850s, based partially on his observations in the 1830s. I couldn't locate any works this early by Seth Eastman, and the combination of factors in this painting - the portrayal of the landscape and the presence of Native Americans, among others - just seemed too good to be true.
So I did more research. I found that the layout of the harbor is consistent with Cleveland in 1833. The number and nature of buildings corresponds reasonably with Whelpley's print of a year later. And the improvements made in the 1840s are not present. Further, the technique of the painting is not as refined as Eastman's later works.
I'm confident, now, that Lake Erie, From Cleveland depicts Cleveland in July of 1833. It provides a rare glimpse into the landscape of this region as it used to be.
This watercolor is to be auctioned at Sloans and Kenyon this Sunday. Their estimate is $80,000-$150,000 - meaning that the bidding will likely start at $40,000.
* The Seth Pease 1796 map of Cleveland (see a drawing based upon said map) features a tent with a couple men situated by the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. However, this appears, to my eyes, to be merely added as a visual device, rather than an attempt to illustrate the location. For that reason, I don't count it as a painting of the city.
Correction: Janice B. Patterson, author of Cleveland's Lighthouses, pointed out to me that where I said "breakwater", I meant "pier". I corrected the two instances of this term. She noted that "There were no breakwaters in the 1830s -- they were built in the 1870s. I think what you are calling a breakwater was actually just a wooden pier, built on pilings and possibly reinforced with stones."