Monday, October 31, 2011

We're Two!

Happy Birthday to Us!

Two years ago, Cleveland Area History got its start. Since then, stories from this site have received national media attention. We've achieved my primary goal - Clevelanders are talking about issues relating to history and historic preservation again.

A book, Hidden History of Cleveland has been published, collecting some of the best material published here - there's a release party scheduled for November 11. You can even buy Cleveland Area History stickers for your rusty old historic cars.

What's you favorite story from the past two years?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Help Save an Important Historic Home!

Luther Moses House
The Luther Moses House
Cleveland's Finest Pre-Civil War House, East of the Cuyahoga

Almost two years ago, I introduced the Luther Moses house, a designated Cleveland Landmark. Moses, a wealthy Cleveland shipbuilder, commissioned the structure, at 5611 Lexington Avenue, circa 1854.

At the time, I bemoaned the physical condition of the structure - it seemed likely that it would collapse into a pile of rubble without further action. A new roof had been installed, which suggested that the owner cared to some degree about the structure, but as the new shingles were falling off, I didn't have much hope.

A month ago, Robert Landon, the brother of the owner of the house, contacted me. He had read my post on the house. To my surprise and delight, he wasn't writing because of the tone I used in describing the condition of the house, but rather because he wanted to restore it, and he hoped I might be able to provide "advice, comments, or leads" in what he recognized as a "monumental task."

Now that I had his permission, I took a look inside.

I was filled with awe. Here was a 150 year old house that appeared to still have most of the original woodwork! Further, the quality of the woodwork was the best I've seen from this period in the city of Cleveland, east of the Cuyahoga.

Front hall, east wall, first floor

These doorways were moved to the front hall. One is a closet, the other leads to the back hall. It will be possible to return them to their original location, by matching the nail holes on the back of the trim with the nail holes on the framing in the places where the trim was removed. This style of trim was used for all of the first floor doors.

Fireplace, southeast room, first floor

This fireplace, one of two on the first floor, is mostly original. The only parts replaced are the two boards at the very top.

West wall, northwest room, first floor

Here are two windows, in the room on the northwest corner of the house. Each has a simple panel underneath. While a small bit of trim is missing, it could be replaced easily enough. Imagine these in front of painted walls, rather than brick, and they appear much more pleasing. All of the windows on the first floor received this treatment.

Front door, first floor

Even the front doorway, which was converted to a window years ago, and the, later, bricked in, remains intact, save for the door itself. Underneath the additional trim, added for the window, the careful details created by carpenters in 1854 remain.

To the best of my ability to determine, almost all of the original woodwork on the first floor remains - the only exception is the staircase. This simply doesn't happen. Interiors change with tastes and the needs of the residents. Further, houses built by affluent persons are more likely to be changed, because they can afford to.

Look at the rendering I used at the start of the article, based on the evidence I have thus far as to how the house appeared, and imagine it like that again.

Yes, the house needs major work, but, as a community, it's worth our time and effort to fix it up. Here, preservation isn't an issue of someone else's action or inaction, but in how we each choose to spend a little time.

What will happen to the house when this is all done?

This remains to be seen. Robert Landon's interest in fixing it up is sentimental in nature. He grew up in this house. His mother put a ton of time and money into it, and it hurts him to see it in the current state. He wants it to be in the hands of someone who will care for it for what it is.

Landon will be in town in mid-November. Interested parties might discuss possibilities with him at that time.

How do we proceed?

There's a ton of research to be done - this has already begun. The next step is documenting the house and identifying how it might have appeared originally. While I have plenty of photographs, they're not by any means exhaustive. Measured architectural drawings would be most helpful - perhaps you might be able to help? Or perhaps you might be interested in helping to organize what is surely going to be a massive undertaking?

I'll be at the house on Sunday at 11 with some of the people who are interested in this. Let me know if you want to be involved.

This is going to be an ongoing feature, with regular updates - next week, I'll share the beginnings of the research into the house and its occupants!

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.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Park as it Was: Chester Commons

Lunch break at Chester Commons, popular mini-park in busy downtown area.
Photograph by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, June, 1973, for the Environmental Protection Agency.

In recent years, the park at Chester Avenue and East 12th Street had fallen into such disrepair that it became somthing less than attractive to the downtown population. It is now in the process of being completely rebuilt.

Indeed, the concrete structures in the park had come to feel brutalist in nature. (Brutalism is the architectural style charaterized by imposing, massive concrete and stone - the wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art designed by Marcel Breuer is an excellent example of this.)

It's worth looking at what this park looked like originally, in the 1970s, when it was built.

Photograph by Clay Herrick. Courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project.

Eric Johannesen, in his classic work on the city's built environment, Cleveland Architecture: 1876-1976 described it as follows:
Visually the most successful part of the [Erieview] project area by 1976 was the square at East 12th Street and Chester Avenue. Built by the city in 1972 and called Chester Commons Park, the square is one of the best genuinely urban pedestrian spaces in Cleveland. Considerable spatial drama is created wtihin a small compass on a stage set of concrete and plantings. The space is divided and made to appear much larger than it is by the use of numerous levels built up of stepped platforms at irregular angles. Some of the concrete parapets take on the shape of imaginary fortified bastions. Trees, wooden benches, brightly colored graphic designs, and a small cascade at the center of the square add variety and freshness, and the ensemble has a distinctly playful quality. However, the urban character of the square is dependent on the backdrop of the older Chester Twelfth Building, the new Diamond Shamrock and Penton Plaza Buildings, the Chesterfield Apartments, and Park Centre.

Photograph by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, June, 1973, for the Environmental Protection Agency.

There are a few major differences between the park as originally built and how it was up until a few years ago that are worth noting.

One is the presence of color in the figures on the concrete walls. I can't recall whether they were still in color at the time of demolition - what I do recall is that they felt quite gray - the vibrance in these images was definitely gone from them.

Photograph by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, June, 1973, for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Further, as built, the space feels far more open. While my tendency is generally to be in favor of trees in parks, it seems that in this situation, they space, as originally concieved, worked better with them being much shorter. I'm not sure why.

Photograph by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz, June, 1973, for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Perhaps these slides will provide some insights into what has and hasn't worked in the way of parks in downtown Cleveland. In this sort of history, we ought to be able learn something about which paths will and won't work in the future development of this area.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cleveland Nightlife in the 1930s?

The Fruit Stand
Image used courtesy of Rachel Davis Fine Arts.

When I came across this watercolor by Edward Dobrotka in Rachel Davis Fine Arts' current auction, I knew it was special. It looked, to my eyes, like an excellent illustration of the bustling nightlife on a commercial block in Cleveland in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

Dobrotka, a Clevelander, is best known as an illustrator in some of the early depictions of Superman, created by Clevelanders Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

As a student, in the late 1930s, he was employed in a National Youth Administration (the NYA was a division of the Works Progress Administration - the WPA) program, making paintings, primarily watercolors, of historic buildings in the greater Cleveland area. These paintings provide an excellent way to see these historic buildings in color - subjects that, for the most part, have been lost, and for which the only other documentation is in black and white. About 60 of these paintings, by Dobrotka, are in the collections of the Western Reserve Historical Society - one can obtain a full list by searching for his last name in the museum's catalog.

This painting provides a vibrant view of city nightlife in the late 1930s, in the way a photograph never could. People stand around, perhaps waiting for a streetcar, in front of a store whose name I can't read. To the right, there's a fruit and vegetable market, still open at this late hour. To the right of that, with a tiny doorway, Sing Long Low Chop Suey. On the far right, a store sign lists butter, eggs, and cheese.

The question that's been bugging me is as to the location being depicted. While it's an attractive painting, and valuable as a historical record of the work of an artist, its value as a record of a place is minimal until we can determine just what that place is.

The obvious clue would be to look for Sing Long Low Chop Suey. I don't see any advertisements for an establishement with this name in the pages of the Plain Dealer. I've come across a reference to a "Sing Long Low Chinese Restuarant" in New York City", but the name doesn't seem sufficiently uncommon to rule out Cleveland as a possible location for this painting.

There's enough information in this painting that we should be able to place it on a map, if it is in Cleveland. Streetcar tracks are visible in the road, which narrows down the location. The combination of a 3 story plus brick building, a tiny one story one, and a two story one to the right has to be rare when combined with the streetcar tracks. With enough combing of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Ohio, one should be able to locate the site.

To further narrow this down, I looked at the areas that Edward Dobrotka covered in his paintings for the NYA. They're primarily in the Ohio City neighborhood, the Flats, and on the near east side (west of, say, East 40th Street). If this is, in fact, Cleveland, it would seem likely he painted this in one of the aforementioned areas.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas as to where this might be? New York readers, do you have any clues?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Last Stand of Eliot Ness

Photograph by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz for the Environmental Protection Agency. July, 1973.

I've long heard rumors that a sign, for Eliot Ness's campaign for mayor, was still standing, somewhere on the near east side of Cleveland. Ness served as the city safety director in the 1930s, working to eliminate corruption from the police department. When I came across this historic photograph, taken in the summer of 1973, I had to look further.

The caption indicates that the sign, for Ness's 1938 campaign, is on an apartment building at East 36th Street and Cedar Avenue. This building appears to be gone.

Unless the references I've heard are to another sign, this little bit of Cleveland's history is gone.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Caboose and Russian Church

Caboose and Russian Church (1912)
Courtesy of Rachel Davis Fine Arts.

I came across Caboose and Russian Church, in Rachel Davis Fine Arts' current auction.

The painting, a watercolor, was made in 1912 by Frank Nelson Wilcox, a well-known Cleveland artist. The subject is the Cleveland rail yards and a building that will be familar to many - St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Church. The familar onion domes of the church have towered over Tremont for one hundred years. The church had just been built at the time Wilcox painted it.

I looked at a current map of the address of this historic church - 733 Starkweather Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio - with the hope of placing the artist's view on the map.

I couldn't determine the location. The construction of Interstate 490 changed the landscape enough that many of the houses shown in front of the church are now gone. With that in mind, I looked at an earlier map - the 1912 Plat-book of the City of Cleveland, Ohio.

Plat-book of the City of Cleveland, Ohio, Volume 2: northwest and southwest Hopkins, 1912, plate 16
Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

A detail of the map, shown here, helps illuminate the artist's perspective. The red lines show the approximate area covered in his perspective. The church is the structure in red near the top of the image, just to the left of center. We can see several streets that are now gone: Clyde; Severn; Lynn; Cathedral; and Clarence, as well as two that are almost completely gone: St. Tichon and St. Olga.

Wilcox's painting illustrates a time in Cleveland that is now gone. Residential areas were closer to industry than they are now, and there appears to have been more pollution in the skies.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hidden History of Cleveland

The Answer to All Your Holiday Gift Giving Problems

Hidden History of Cleveland

Wonder about the lack of posts from me here during the summer and early fall? My time was eaten up by the editing of Hidden History of Cleveland. My publisher, History Press, describes it thus:

Join local history preservationist Christopher Busta-Peck and unearth aspects of Cleveland’s past that dangle too near extinction from city memory. Too often, we think of history as something that happens elsewhere. But it’s not. Travel down East 100th Street to the home where Jesse Owens lived when he shocked the world at the 1936 Olympics. Ascend the stairs to Langston Hughes’s attic apartment on East 86th, where the influential writer lived alone during his formative sophomore and junior years of high school. From the massive Brown Hoist Building and the Hulett ore unloaders to some of the oldest surviving structures in Cleveland, Busta-Peck (the wildly popular Cleveland Area History blog) has Clevelanders talking about history again. Here’s why.

In short, it's a selection of the very best material from Cleveland Area History, with a third to half of the extra words cut out. It's scheduled for publication in early November - just in time for the holidays. Just think: you could give a copy to each and every one of the impossible-to-shop-for but nonetheless obligatory gift recipients on your list.

Preorder it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble [at a marginally significantly better price], or your favorite independent bookstore.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Earliest Remnants of European Settlement

First Presbyterian Churchyard, East Cleveland:
The 1810s

Murray (12)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

I've been following Ashley D. Smith (A Grave Concern)'s photos on Flickr for quite some time. She's photographed many of the oldest cemeteries in northeast Ohio in considerable detail - she's got more than 20,000 photos in her account. Further, she offer the photos under a Creative Commons license.

A huge selection of historic material, photographed well, and mine for the asking? How could I resist?

You might ask why, then, I'm only now posting something. It's simple, really: I couldn't figure out what to say about them. Yes, I'm talking about physical artifacts of European settlers that are older than the oldest surviving buildings, in public locations, and yet I couldn't figure out anything to say.

Why? There's been very little work done on historic grave markers in this area. Unlike the region's architecture, which quickly developed distinctive elements, the gravestones in these cemeteries followed much of the stame stylistic traditions found on the east coast. While there are some that stray from these traditions, I really don't have the art history background to adequately analyze said differences.

On Tuesday, I came across a new set of photos from Ashley D. Smith - the cemetery at First Presbyterian Church, at 16200 Euclid Avenue in East Cleveland. They're in just about the best condition for anything I've seen this old in the area - perhaps this is due to slight differences in the sandstone available in this vicinity, or perhaps it is due to the greater distance from downtown Cleveland (and therefore, pollution) than some of the other sites.

While the individual names may not be that well known, the families - Dille, Eddy, and McIlrath - are well known among the early settlers of this area.

Barr (2)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

"A prudent wife is from the LORD"
Prov. 19.14.

Such a gift was
Mrs. Susannah Barr,
who departed this life
October the 9th, 1812;
in the 38th, year of her age.
While living
"The heart of her Husband did safely
Trust in her". Prov. 31.11.

Now, she is dead.
"Her children arise up and
Call her blessed." Prov. 31.28.

Her remains lie here.

Carlton (2)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Memory of
Anna, Wife of John
Carlton; & Daughr. of
Saml. Cozad, died Aug.
23d, 1813: in the 22d
year of her age.
My glass is run
My grave you see
Prepare for death
And follow me

Cozad (11)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Memory of
Henry Cozad
who died Feb. 27th
1813; in the 17th year
of his age.

McIlrath (3)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Memory of
Elizabeth, wife of
Thomas McIlrath,
who died
Feb. 11, 1813;
aged 53 years.

Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Memory of
James Slawson
who died
Feb. 18, 1813.

Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Memory of
Samuel Smith,
who departed this
life May 4, 1813;
aged 47 years.

Dille (2)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Son of A. & E. DILLE
who died
Dec. 16, 1814,
?? E 6 y. & 8 m.

Murray (2)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

Memory of
Polly, Wife of
Enoch Murray;
who died Sept. 26th, 1815;
aged 35 years.

Murray (4)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

to the
memory of
consort of
who departed this
life, Feb. 24th, 1816 in
the 60th year of her life.

Eddy (6)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.

to the
who departed this

April. 21st 1818.
in the 64th year
of his age.

[remainder illegible]

Murray (8)
Courtesy of Ashley D. Smith - A Grave Concern.


Enoc Murray, Esq.
who died, March. 8th,
1818, in the 35th year of
his age.

I've driven by this cemetery while visiting another major historic site, the Luster Tannery, many times, yet it never really caught my attention. It's amazing that these physical remnants of our early history have not only survived, but are in a location where anyone might stop by and visit them. Further, they're in relatively unaltered condition - compare that with, say, the few extant houses built a decade or two later, which have changed considerably with the needs of the residents over time.

Next week, I'll share the markers from this cemetery from the decade following this one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Historic Fragment on Superior

Cast iron street light pole

I was driving down Superior Avenue near my library the other day, when I saw something unexpected out of the corner of my eye. Look in the lower right corner of this photo, on the south side of Superior, between East 90th and East 91st Streets.

Cast iron street light pole

On closer inspection, I saw that it was the cast iron base of a street light, from the 1910s or 1920s. Can anyone identify the flower design?

Photo by The Heiser Co., Commercial Photographers, Cleveland.

Remember this service station, at 8201 Carnegie Avenue? I wrote about it back in April, comparing it to the site as it is today. On the edge of the street, in the center of the photo, you can see another streetlight.

streetlight streetlight2

Photo by The Heiser Co., Commercial Photographers, Cleveland.

Here's a detail of the streetlight on Carnegie and a close-up of the base. Compare it with the one I stubled across on Superior. Note that while they're similar, they're not identical.

How this lightpost survived so long is anyone's guess. It was replaced by a light on a wood pole long ago. It's an interesting little fragment of our area's history, and I'm glad that it's still here.

In coming weeks, look for other historic fragments on these pages.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Decades in the Making

Repairing the Stairs on the Wade Park Bridge

Wade Park Avenue Bridge

In 1899, Charles Schweinfurth designed this bridge, carrying Wade Park Avenue over what is now Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. It's one of four bridges he designed for the park between 1896 and 1899. This is often cited as the most impressive of the lot. For decades the stairs, allowing pedestrians access to the park, have been closed, too damaged to safely use.

Wade Park Avenue Bridge

This was the sign greeting pedestrians back in September, when I demanded Repair the Stairs on the Wade Park Bridge!

Guess what? Here's a hint:

Wade Park Avenue Bridge

Note: if Cleveland Area History was a glossy, high-production magazine, the photograph would be from the boulevard, and feature several people, skipping down the stairs, gauze flowing in the breeze behind them. But it's not, so you'll have to deal with my feet.

Wade Park Avenue Bridge

Was that not clear enough? This perspective should be more illuminating - the stairs have been fixed!

I confess, when I first drove by and saw the green hue of the stairs, I grumbled to my self. At 35 miles per hour, the green looked an awful lot like the hue of freshly poured cement. "Great," I thought, "someone took the cheap way out, rather than replacing the sandstone with sandstone, as they should have."

Stairs, Wade Park Avenue Bridge

I was wrong.

They did, in fact, do the work with proper materials. It's just that the new sandstone has a very different hue from the old sandstone. Perhaps it will fade to match the existing stone.

The project was sponsored by the Holden Parks Trust. The architects were Chambers, Murphy, & Burge. The contractor was M-A Building & Maintenance Co.

Repairing the stairs on the Wade Park Avenue Bridge Repairing the stairs on the Wade Park Avenue Bridge

Photographs taken in July, while the project was in progress, should illuminate the original construction methods used on this stairway. (I'm always interested in seeing how historic structures were built - it's an underdocumented subject area, and it can be useful in dating structures where the year of construction is unknown.) That said, I'm not sure quite what these images tell us.

This is but one example of the progress that we're making with historic preservation in Cleveland. More will follow in coming weeks.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Lurks Behind The Trees?

The Oakwood Golf Club


If you've driven down Warrensville Center Road in Cleveland Heights and South Euclid, between Cedar and Mayfield, you've probably noticed this long, dense row of trees on the west side of the road, affording only the occasional glimpse of the golf course that they obscure. Hidden behind the trees is the Oakwood Club, which closed last year. It's the center of a controversy between proponents of redevelopment and those who favor the preservation of green space - but this isn't the venue for that fight.

Today, I'll share a brief history of the club - the first major Jewish country club in the Cleveland area. In coming days, image rights permitting, I hope to delve into the ornate interior of the historic clubhouse. The primary source on the history of the Oakwood Club is Oakwood Club, 1905-1980, by Barnett Bookatz. Many of the facts quoted here are derived from that publication.

Oakwood Golf Club
From Art work of Cleveland - 1911, used courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

Oakwood was founded in 1905, by L.J. Wolf, Morris A. Black, Edward M. Baker, Hascal C. Lang, and M.J. Mandelbaum. The first golf course - 9 holes, designed by Arthur Boggs - opened the following year.

In 1906, Frank B. Meade, a notable Cleveland architect, designed this clubhouse, expected to cost $15,000. The structure, built by Gick & Fry, was completed in 1907. It was either a complete remodel of the existing structure (Bookatz) or a new one (Plain Dealer, February 4, 1906, page 27).

According to Bookatz:
The new features included the grillroom, a men's locer room with 69 double-deck lockers, a "bath-room" with three showers, a double washstand and three lavatories. the first floor held the large living room and dining room, a "Ladies Parlor" witih 20 double-deck lockers, a shower and a bath. Along the entire length of the building ran a 72-foot long porch.

Plate 4, Plat book of Cuyahoga County, Ohio complete in one volume Hopkins, 1914
Detail, Plate 4, Plat book of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 1914, courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

It's worth noting that, at the time, the club had much less land than it does today. Their holdings, 19 acres, can be seen near the center of this 1914 map. As it is today, the club includes almost 150 acres - most of area shown on this map as undeveloped. Note the presence of a house and related structures on the parcel owned by the Citizens Saving and Trust Co. The house was located at the end of a long driveway - the double dashed line in pink - the site of the current clubhouse. Some of the outbuildings may remain, repurposed as service structures.

Plate 10, Atlas of the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio Flynn, 1898
Detail, Plate 10, Atlas of the Suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio - Flynn, 1898, courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.

This 1898 map shows a different configuration of the structures on the property, owned at the time by Catherine Hendershot. A house is present - the yellow box closest to the right side of the image on Hendershot's property.


Why does this matter? Because it tends to suggest that this building, now used as a garage for machinery, may, in fact, be the house that was on the property before the country club was built. All interior detail that might suggest the age has been lost, as shown in these photos.

A second nine hole golf course, designed by Chicagoan Tom Bendelow, was completed in 1915. In 1929, the course was redesigned, as the widening of Warrensville Center Road consumed some of the eastern edge of the course. It remained in this configuration until a redesign in 1972-1973.


The Excelsior Club merged with Oakwood in 1930. The increase membership necessitated building a new clubhouse. The building, completed in 1931, was designed by George B. Mayer of Charles R. Greco & Associates. Louis Rorimer, of Rorimer-Brooks Studios, was responsible for the interior decoration.


The architectural detail of the clubhouse, which appears to have been expanded several times over the years, is of high quality. This wrought iron and copper awning protected visitors from the elements as they entered the club.


Details of similar quality continue around the entire structure, as seen here on the south wall.


Even the little details, like this doorway on the east side of the clubhouse, are well-proportioned and pleasing.


The east side of the clubhouse, seen here, faces Warrensville Center Road.


I'll close with this view from the clubhouse, looking southeast toward Warrensville Center Road, the early morning sun hitting the now unmanicured greens.

In future posts, I hope to address the history of the grounds in more detail, and give you a peek into the clubhouse, providing that I am able to obtain permission to use the images I need. If you have photographs or stories relating to the Oakwood Club, please contact me to share them.