Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lost: The Biggest Apartment Building in Cleveland at the Time it was Built

The Alhambra

Alhambra apartment building

The historic Alhambra Apartment Building, on the south side of Wade Park Avenue at East 86th Street, in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland, is being demolished.

Alhambra apartment building

Here's a view of the structure as it was in May of 2010. Note the hole in the side wall, blocked in with concrete block, which some have suggested is the reason the structure was being demolished. This photograph illustrates the spot in question in detail.

Alhambra apartment building
Alhambra apartment building

This pair of photographs, taken of the rear of the structure, from East 86th Street, illustrate the progress of the demolition. A whole section of the building is gone. The fire escapes and balconies have been removed.

Alhambra apartment building

The construction of the Alhambra was announced in the Plain Dealer (February 23, 1902, page 5), under the heading "New Style of "Flat" Building":

The largest apartment house in Cleveland will be the Alhambra that is to be erected on the corner of Wade Park and Marcy avenues this spring. The builders, the L.W. MacKenzie Realty Co., will break ground at once, a new company having been formed that will soon be incorporated to take charge of the big structure. Stock to the extent of $30,000 will be issues and in addition the Mackenzie Realty Co. will be given stock for its land which is quite valuable.

This new apartment house of fifty-six suites that is to stand just opposite the Belgrave, also owned by the MacKenzie realty Co., will have frontage on Wade Park avenue of 286 feet and front 74 feet on Marcy. The architects, Searles & Hirsch, have sprung something entirely new for Cleveland in this Alhambra, which is to be of Spanish design, built of light pressed brick, four strories high, which, by reason of extreme length, gives it a handsome long, low effect so much admired in the architecture of Spain. The suites will be divided by fireproof walls and a steel porch will extend across the entire rear, giving an outside entrance to each kitchen. East room is to have outside light and every modern means of comfort will be provided.

A novel method of erection will be employed so that part of the building can be utilized by the tenants before all is completed. Fourt stories will be run up two suites wide at first and this will be continued until the whole length is completed. The contractors promise to have the building completed by September. The rentals will be from $25 to $35 a suite.

Alhambra apartment building

The building sports some beautiful details - the most notable being the towers seen above. Note also this mosaic above one of the entrances.

Detail, Alhambra Apartment Building
Photograph by the City of Cleveland, Ohio. 1967. Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This detail of a 1967 photograph shows the style of windows that were present across the entire fourth floor.

Eric Johannesn described the appeal of the structure in his classic, Cleveland Architecture: 1876-1976 (page 91).
Five square towers projected above the roof of the four-story building, supported on machicolations to give the effect of a fortress, and topped off with pyramidal roofs. This provided a suitably monumental yellow brick facade for the upper middle-class inhabitants of the middle East Side. The same design was repeated on the West Side at Franklin Avenue and West 57th Street and called the Franklin Apartments.


It's a shame that this has happened to what seems, to all outside appearances, to be a solid shell. One would expect it would have been possible to rehab it.

8 comments:

  1. So sad. Did they save anything?
    The tile, the windows and anything else that was worth saving?

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  2. i used to walk past on my way to work every morning, i had hoped it would be rehabilitated and occupied, sorry to see it go

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  3. Brandon - I have no idea. I wasn't able to gain access to the interior.

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  4. At some point someone installed new windows in it. What a waste!

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  5. A sad dose of reality; most of Hough needs to be demolished. Rather what little is left of Hough needs to be demolished so that it can be rebuilt from the ground up.

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  6. This structure was in more solid condition than a good many of the structures in Hough built in the past 30 years. That leads me to think that just building new isn't the answer.

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  7. I, too, noticed all those new windows -- it was the entire building, so it must have been a couple hundred -- and then NOTHING followed. Yes, there was a near-twin -- although not nearly as big -- on Franklin at W. 57th. It is amazing that that structure was demolished many years ago -- it is no small wonder that the Alhambra out-survived it by so much time. A note to the person who thinks the whole neighborhood ought to be demolished (which would include the Luther Moses House, incidentally): the Hough neighborhood isn't going to be rebuilt no matter how much is demolished. Its fate was sealed with the Hough Riots of 1966. The City has turned its back on this neighborhood, as they have with seemingly countless other neighborhoods. Besides, why is such an obviously anti-preservationist as yourself looking at this pro-preservation site, anyway?? You probably thought that it was great that the Columbia Building was demolished.

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  8. I'm sad to see this why couldn't it be saved?????

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