Monday, January 25, 2010
It’s true. Throughout our history, Cleveland has made some mistakes. Maybe a few more than our fair share. So could this elaborate mansion built by Samuel Andrews and vacated by his family after having been lived in for only three years, have started it all?
In 1874, during Cleveland’s most prosperous time, John D. Rockefeller bought his partner Samuel Andrews out of the Standard Oil Company for $1 million due to their irreconcilable differences. Andrews had been hailed as an extremely capable mechanic and chemist. He developed the method to extract kerosene from crude oil, which is how he came to be in business with Rockefeller and subsequently assist in the formation of the Standard Oil Company.
Andrews rose from near poverty into his newfound stature of wealth. Apparently he took the wealth and ran with it, living a rather grandiose lifestyle. He and his family lived on Euclid Avenue at East 28th Street when he made a deal to switch properties with William Bingham Sr. and planned the construction of his massive 18,000 square foot English Gothic mansion at the northeast corner of Euclid Avenue and East 30th Street. Today this is the site of the WEWS property.
Each of Samuel Andrew’s seven children had their own room, and the home was apparently the first in Cleveland to have an elevator, which ran from the basement to the third floor. The home took three years to build, was lived in for three years, and then left vacant but fully furnished for 30 years. Apparently the logistics, layout, and maintenance costs of the home were not properly planned for and became quite a burden on both the family and staff of the home. Andrew’s dream of entertaining Queen Victoria (England was his country of origin) never came to be. This photo on the Cleveland Memory website shows the home up for sale in 1917.
The city’s Landmarks Commission website notes Walter Blythe as the architect for the structure, which coincides with Jan Cigliano’s Showplace of America: Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue, 1850-1910. This book is a must read if you enjoy learning about Millionaire’s Row. However in one sentence of this book, George H. Smith is noted as the architect, which matches the notation in The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. I plan to research this further to find the correct information.
Overall it appears that this structure and its fate was a result of the desire for maximum opulence. Form and function, however, must work hand-in-hand.