Photo from the Cleveland Press Collection, used courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project.
Last week, I shared this photograph, of a structure said to be Cleveland's Oldest House. The caption noted that it was located at West 93rd and Lorain - but I couldn't find anything in the historic maps of that area that matched up with the footprint of the house.
I offered a signed copy of Hidden History of Cleveland, for anyone who could identify the location of the structure or whose house it actually was.
Craig Bobby took up the task. He said,
I decided to "look up" whatever I could regarding the alleged Lorenzo Carter house, demolished in 1932, by looking in the Press, circa September 15, 1932. I did succeed in finding what was needed, published, by the way, in that very same date's edition.
Detail, 1913 Sanborn map. Used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library. Loren is the street running left-right near the bottom of the image. Our house is at the corner of Loren and East 93rd, the street running top to bottom.
This house was neither at West 93rd nor Lorain; it was at East 93rd and Loren. This would be a small number of blocks north of Harvard, just outside of the original Newburgh Village. The article misidentifies the side-street as 'Lauren'. Its exact address was 3890 East 93rd -- it was on the northwest corner. You could see, from looking at the 1913 Sanborn map, that the house was set back considerably from the street. It has such a setback on both the 1881 and 1858 maps. The house behind it in the 1932 photo was the first house on the north side of Loren.
Detail, Plate 26, 1881 City Atlas of Cleveland, Ohio - used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library
Craig Bobby said,
I checked the 1881 City Of Cleveland Atlas and the 1858 Cuyahoga County Map. This house was on the property of Alonzo Carter, not Lorenzo Carter. I also looked at various historic Censuses and found an Alonzo Carter in Newburgh as far back as 1850. Both the 1840 and 1830 censuses have an Alonzo Carter living in Brooklyn, not Newburgh. I personally believe that they are all the same person. Those older censuses only listed age-groups, but, considering this, they seem to be about the same person, with knowing that the 1850 census has his age as being 60. Assuming from all of this that Alonzo Carter moved from Brooklyn to Newburgh sometime between 1840 and 1850, I think that it could be legitimately suggested that the house was built by him whenever that was that he arrived there in Newburgh. If not, then he acquired an already-built house. Regardless of the story of the alleged "primitive" construction features made visible during demolition, I still can not accept that this house was built in 1800 -- at least not the house as we see it in the photo. Could it have been a log cabin extensively remodeled in later years? We will never know.
The Dictionary Of Cleveland Biography article on Lorenzo Carter says that he had a son named Alonzo. I am willing to believe that this is that person. The Dictionary says Lorenzo was at least born in Connecticut, while the 1850 census says that Alonzo was born in Vermont. Lorenzo could have moved from Connecticut to Vermont -- they are quite near each other. The 1850 census also says that Alonzo Carter had a son named 'Lorain'. I believe that this is a misspelling; I bet his name was Loren (likely a 'diminutive' of Lorenzo). This should 'explain' why the side-street was named Loren. And, according to the Cleveland Necrology File, Alonzo Carter died in 1872 (quite possibly in this very house) at the ripe old age of 82.
He was kind enough to provide a copy of the article as well.
For his efforts, Craig Bobby will receive a signed copy of Hidden History of Cleveland.
While we now have the correct location for the photo, we are left with more answers than questions. Perhaps someone else, at some future date, will take interest in this and see what else can be learned about the history of this historic home.