The McIlrath Residences
When I came across this house, at 15002 Sylvia Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio, a year ago, I knew that it was historic, but I knew little more. The style suggests a pre-Civil War construction date. The County Auditor's records confirm this, listing the date as 1855 - though it's possible that it was earlier.
I assumed that the structure had been moved, given that the street it's on didn't exist at the time it was built. My opinion has changed. I now believe that it's the location of the front door that has changed. On the side of the house, shown in this photograph, we can see two windows, of proportions that one might expect of a house built between 1830 and 1860. I believe that the front doorway was originally located between these windows, facing what is now East 152nd Street.
Given the use of facing brick, it's hard to tell what the side of the house that faces Sylvia Avenue might have looked like. We can be reasonably sure, however, that the placement of the second floor windows remains unchanged.
In September, I came across this house, at 15006 Westropp Avenue. Notice how similar the proportions between the two are. The likeness may be seen most obviously on the side of the structure facing us, in the second floor windows. Again, I'm unsure as to the date of construction, but it was definitely pre-1860.
At the time that these houses were built, the land was owned by members of the McIlrath family. This, and the similarity in style, strongly suggests that the builder was the same. This makes the houses considerably more special - while it's possible to identify similar works by a master builder, it's much more difficult make such connections with those constructed by the average carpenter.
Detail from the 1858 Hopkins Map of Cuyahoga County. Used courtesy of Rails and Trails, original courtesy of the Bedford Historical Society.
This detail of the 1858 Hopkins Map of Cuyahoga County shows the neighborhood in question. The pair of vertical lines running through the center of the image represent East 152nd Street, which jogs to the right as Waterloo Avenue, and then becomes East 156th Street. The black squares represent houses and other major structures.
The house at 15002 Sylvia Avenue is located on a 47 acre parcel, outlined in light green, that was owned, in 1858, by one T. McIlrath. The other house, 15006 Westropp Avenue, is located on a 79 acre parcel owned by one A. Dille.
Outlined in light blue is the parcel owned by Leonard Parks, shown here.
A 107 acre parcel is outlined in dark blue. A pre-1860 structure is still standing on this property as well, the more southern of the two shown on the map. It is located at 381 East 156th Street.
There are a few neighborhoods in Cleveland that are known for large concentrations of historic homes. Outside these areas, it is rare to find two historic homes close together. A group of four, as we have here, is even more significant.
Further research on this group of historic structures, especially the two built for the McIlraths, is definitely warranted.