Monday, March 1, 2010
This nice, historic, circa 1850 Greek Revival farmhouse at 4340 Turney Road, in the South Broadway neighborhood of Cleveland has been lost. At 1900 square feet, it was larger farmhouses of that vintage in the city. Note the excellent proportions. A three pane transom was probably present over the front door. A vent graces the eave. The trim is simple and clean. A barn sat off to the left and would have likely looked similar to this one.
This illustration by Shawn Hoefler shows what the house might look like once restored.
The house appears to have been on the northwest corner of the property owned by one Thomas Garfield, who, at the time, owned at least 100 acres of land in the area. His holdings stretched from present day Turney Road on the north to Grand Division Avenue on the south, and were bounded on the west and east by Warner Road and Turney Road, respectively.
I can't be absolutely sure of the date of the house, nor of this being it's original location, but I am certain that it was built before 1860. It was most likely built between 1846 and 1850. This 1881 map shows the house, on the corner of Force Avenue, to the left, and Turney Road. It shows small outbuilding and a barn. One addition was already present to the rear of the house, suggesting that it had been there for some time. In the time since this map was made, two more lots have been cut from this property on Turney Road and one more on Force Avenue.
To clarify: this house has not yet been bulldozed. It sits, some windows broken out, slowly decaying. Unless we take action and convince city council to enact the necessary legislation, it will be lost. Until that time, this and so many other interesting structures should be considered lost.
The problem is back taxes. The current owner, one William F. Hodges of 2846 East 128th Street, has not paid property taxes on this house since 2004. The back taxes now amount to more than $30,000. While the county can foreclose on a property after taxes haven't been paid in a year, in practice, it can take much longer - I know of one where property taxes haven't been paid since 1999. Given current policies granting homeowners some leeway with regard to back taxes, houses like this one will sit vacant longer and fall further into disrepair. While this house should be saved, no one is willing to pay $30,000 for it. Even $15,000 is likely too much. I haven't seen the interior, but I would guess that the cost of a reasonable rehab would be about equal to the market value of the property.
We need a legislative solution. The problem is finding one that doesn't simply provide incentives for people to stop paying their taxes. I have no idea what this solution should be. We need to figure out some way to deal with this mess. Until we do, this house and so many others like it are lost.
What should we do?