Monday, November 9, 2009
I came across this Italianate house at 6512 Superior Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio, while on the search for Greek Revival houses, as part of my ongoing project to document all the remaining ones within the city of Cleveland. The Pictometry Bird's Eye View of the house was promising - the proportions of the roof on the rear wing of the house looked just right. Further, I've seen several houses where an Italianate addition was built in front of an earlier Greek Revival structure - the funeral home at the corner of E. 89 and Cedar is a good example. The Cozad-Bates house is another.
The overall quality of this house, from what can bee seen on the exterior, is excellent. Note the trompe l'oeil painting of stone. Someone has clearly put a lot of energy into this house, up until recently. The aerial view suggested that there were two similar houses at this location. Alas, when I arrived, I found that the one next door had been demolished.
The house has a very nice presence on the lot. Note the impressive columns on the front porch and the complex mouldings around the windows. One could gain a lot of curb appeal by just pruning the trees, so that the house could be seen better from the street.
The front door is equally interesting.
This view of the east side of the house shows the transition between the older and newer structures. That the style of the foundation on the older part seems to extend over into the Italianate part suggests that perhaps part of the front of the older part was removed when the house was expanded.
The west side of the house, shown here, presents a more clear break between the two wings. The foundation changes abruptly between the two halves, probably because of the shape of the Italianate part.
The house is also notable in that the original barn is still standing, even if only just so. There are very few houses in the city for which this is true. Those Wonderful Old Houses suggests that there are a few, but that pubication focuses on Ohio City, where much more of the history landscape has been preserved.
The biggest problem I have with calling the older part of the house a Greek Revival are the size and proportions of the windows. For a Greek Revival, I would have expected smaller, skinnier windows. Of course, the windows could easily have been replaced at sometime in the past - perhaps at the same time as the house was expanded.
I have a hard time placing an exact date on this house. The tooling of the stone used for the foundation on the older part of the house is consistent with what I've seen used in houses dating from the 1830s-1850s. It would seem reasonable for the older part of the house to fall in that date range. The Italianate style, used for the main part of the house, was popular from the 1840s through 1880s. I'm not familar enough with the style to provide a more precise date than that.
I consulted the Hopkins 1881 Atlas of Cleveland, which illustrates the location of each individual house. This house was not included. I'm beginning to doubt the completeness of that atlas, as there are several houses I've come across recently that I would have expected to be included but which are not.
According to the County Auditor, the house is 3400 square feet, on a lot measuring 8850 square feet. The two lots to the west, totalling 9252 square feet, are both owned by the City of Cleveland, and would be available for purchase at a trivial price by any owner of this property. In addition, the owner of the lot immediately to the east of this house would probably be willing to sell it. If not, it will eventually be taken for back taxes, which have not been paid since 2006.
The house is owned by one James A. Baker, whose mailing address, for property tax purposes, is listed as P.O. Box 1911, Cleveland, OH 44106. He purchased the house for $17,000 in 2004. Mr. Baker does not appear to own any other property in Cuyahoga County. It is not known what Mr. Baker intends to do with the property.
This is the best frame Italianate I've yet seen in Cleveland. While it needs paint, and probably a new roof, it seems to be in quite salvagable condition. There is absolutely no reason for this house to be allowed to decay further. It will remain on my radar, and hopefully yours.