Monday, April 27, 2015

A LOSS OF GREAT MAGNITUDE

It is with what, in perhaps melodramatic contexts, is known as "a heavy heart", that we must report the loss of one of northeast Ohio's more architecturally significant structures.  Apparently constructed in 1898, it was built as the summer residence for John Gehring, then the President of the Gehring Brewing Company of Cleveland, Ohio.  Located in Avon Lake (Lorain County), with the rear of the property overlooking Lake Erie, Gehring commissioned Cleveland architect Frederick Baird to provide a "Swiss Chalet" design complete with an expansive porch and balcony framed by that style's visually prominent, pierced balustrades.  As was the practice in times gone by in regards to 'country' residences, Gehring called his summer home "Green Gables".
1900

1905































1911

This lakefront property has a street frontage of 200 feet and a depth of over 600 feet.  Someone with apparently more money than he knew what to do with somehow acquired the property in late-2013 -- with no intention of making any use of this spectacular house.  It was demolished sometime within the past twelve months.  A house approximately three times the size is presently [April 2015] under construction at the site.

The Swiss Chalet style had not been hugely popular and most examples were built, briefly, between 1900 and 1910.  Therefore, this was a very early example, of a generally rare architectural style. The house's exterior had been essentially unaltered, with the only obvious change being the screening-in of some sections of the porch and balcony.
 
1999
The Swiss Chalet style had not been hugely popular and most examples were built, briefly, between 1900 and 1910.  Therefore, this was a very early example, of a generally rare architectural style. The house's exterior had been essentially unaltered, with the only obvious change being the screening-in of some sections of the porch and balcony.  Reportedly, a complementing Swiss-style beach house was also built, although no image of such a building is known.  A Swiss-style coach house was definitely built.  It was positioned very close to the street.  Added across the entire 200 feet of street frontage was a wrought-iron fence, with two sets of grand gates.  Both the coach house and iron fence were still present at the time of this post, but it should be only obvious that the "modern-minded" new owner will soon eliminate them, as well.

Public records reveal that the new owner purchased this property at a price of over a million dollars.  The house presently under construction appears as if its final cost could approach yet another million dollars.  With this sort of wealth, the new owner could have easily afforded the cost to move the Gehring House, preferably to another property, where its architectural magnificence could have lived on for many more years.  But, instead, yet another grand historic building has been callously tossed aside, like yesterday's garbage.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

IGNATIUS.......A SAINT, HE AIN'T

The latest session of the "De-Landmarking Commission" of the City Of Cleveland gave their blessings to St. Ignatius High School to demolish yet another historic structure in their possession. It is a house that was built in the late-1860s for George Schlecter.  It is located in the Ohio City Local Historic District.  Owned by the school since 1991 and used by them primarily for some function related to volunteers, the school has decided that they want to expand the parking lot that they own which surrounds the house.  Removing the house will give them six parking spaces.
2900 Carroll - 2015 photo

2900 Carroll - 1957 photo

Ignatius has been in this general location since the 1880s.  They could have easily relocated to suburbia, as many a Cleveland area private school did.  Instead, mimicking the standard strategy of inner-city universities, they proceeded to acquire as many of the surrounding properties as possible.  The nearby buildings are/were strictly 19-century.  The quantity of historic buildings that they have acquired and demolished over the decades is staggering.  After the 1960s flight to the suburbs of anyone who could afford to do so, particularly businesses and institutions, the City Of Cleveland has obliged every desire for which Ignatius has needed their cooperation, for fear that Ignatius finally will relocate outside of Cleveland if they do not.  Entire blocks of historic buildings have been demolished, the streets officially "vacated" by the City, and the land they once occupied transferred to Ignatius.  They apparently have a "cart-blanche" relationship with the City.  [Note:  Apparently as a further expression of 'solidarity' with the school, the "De-Landmarking Commission" in the same recent session also re-confirmed the approval they gave to Ignatius last year to demolish another mid-19th-century house, a block or so down the street. (See the post from December 21, 2014.)]  How much longer will it be before the City obligingly removes the ultimate obstacle to Ignatius -- the "Historic District" status of the neighborhood?

Friday, January 02, 2015

FINAL SCORE: OBLITERATION 3, PRESERVATION 0

There has been only ONE example of a positive story that has ever been posted on this blog.  It truly seems like the passion for preserving our historic buildings is fading away to nothingness.  Was its former popularity just some sort of 'fad'??  It seems that the masses have embraced a new era of 'urban renewal', instead.  It seems that historic buildings are, once again, being perceived as nothing but 'eyesores'.  Even the sustainability movement, which had originally promoted historic preservation as an important expression of sustainability, has seemingly now turned its back on this former 'ally'.

The 'scorecard' of historic architecture losses in the Cleveland, Ohio, area continues on its downward spiral into the dark abyss.  Only two months ago, in October of 2014, the Caine House, one of Cleveland's most important Italianate-style houses and located on one of Cleveland's most traveled thoroughfares, was demolished.  It was built in 1877 for William H.Caine, who owned a stone-yard in the nearby valley of Mill Creek that specialized in providing stone suitable for sidewalks.  Perhaps the sole remaining stone example of Italianate style residential architecture in the city, located on Broadway Avenue near Miles Avenue, it has been seen thousands upon thousands of times because of its very 'high-profile' location.  This house was included as one of Cleveland's prominent residences featured in Cleveland Illustrated, published in 1889.  It had been a City Of Cleveland Landmark for many years (which, at best, "protects" a structure only "on paper" since the Ordinances that require proper maintenance have NEVER been enforced).
1991 photo
Another 'high-profile' historic structure, due to its location on a much-traveled street, was demolished back in March of 2013.  Located on Cedar Avenue not far from East 55th Street, it was also frequently noticed by  travelers along the latter street, as well, due to the general absence of other buildings between the house and that street.  Built in 1883 in the midst of a period in Cleveland history when Cedar Avenue was considered a 'fashionable' residential street, many passers-by most likely noticed its quirky little round bay above the front entrance.  It originally had a fine front porch with an expansive arch stretched across its entire width.

1992 photo


Yet another blow to the local architectural heritage pertains to a house that probably went largely unnoticed by many.  Located on a very secondary street, it was unfortunately located very close to a university campus, where much new residential construction is going on.  The house was in remarkably good condition for its age -- it was built in 1892 -- and had a remarkably original exterior.  One might imagine that its only 'crime' was being immediately adjacent to a brand-new housing developed for 'upscale' occupants.  It was demolished in January of 2014.
1997 photo

So much artistic beauty, lost forever.  Cleveland, Ohio, charges along in its determination to become one of the nation's most UN-distinctive locations.  It certainly has found a "winning" strategy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

THE LATEST ADDITIONS TO CLEVELAND'S REGISTER OF "NO PAROLE" HISTORY

One could write seemingly endlessly about the historic buildings in Cleveland, Ohio, that are on the chopping block.  But, for now, just a few have been selected for this post.  Two of the three are immediately adjacent to each other and consequently are part of a proposed demolition "package".  It is being promoted by the local Catholic diocese, who owns both buildings, as part of the ever-continuing expansion of the campus of Ignatius High School, on Cleveland's west side, in the heart of the historic Ohio City neighborhood.  One is a house and the other a church.  Both were built in the middle part of the nineteenth century.  The accompanying photos are historic views.  Neither house nor church have been occupied/used in years.  The house's historic character has been obscured by vinyl-siding.  The church's exterior remains largely the same as it was when it functioned as the First German Reformed Church.  Ignatius High School's presently-expansive campus is a product of a decades-long practice of acquiring numerous historic building of all kinds and demolishing them.  Their appetite for destruction is insatiable.

Meanwhile, further out the west side, in the historic Brooklyn Center neighborhood, the jeopardized building was recently owned by the Applewood Center facility, whose campus is largely across West 25th Street from it. Originally, this was the residence built in 1888 for Harry Farnsworth, a member of one of Brooklyn Center's most prominent families.  Applewood Center acquired the house in 1999, gave it a full renovation, and used it as additional residential housing for the center.  Now, after only a handful of years, they've abandoned it.  And just a leap away is the campus of Metro Hospital, yet another corporate entity, which has chewed up and spit out entire blocks of historic houses and commercial buildings (in its apparent strategy to out-do the Cleveland Clinic on the other side of town) and who have now obtained this modestly-sized piece of land -- to further expand their campus -- "just because".  There is no plan to use this house, of course.  The property will most likely become just a patch of grass -- with maybe a Metro Hospital sign to 'jazz' it up.


Read more »

Friday, October 11, 2013

"IS NOTHING SACRED?" (...NOT IF IT'S IN CLEVELAND...)

Cleveland, Ohio, shamelessly continues in its full-speed-ahead determination to do all it can to eliminate all its historic buildings, and even its once-proud history, for the sake of new buildings (or, heck, sometimes even new parking lots!).  The Cleveland Clinic likewise continues in its role as the Monster That Ate Cleveland, making the City's mission even easier.  After losing another historic church ('devoured' by the Clinic) only months ago on what had been Cleveland's storied Euclid Avenue, one more church built on that formerly-prestigious avenue to accommodate the religious needs of a segment of the wealthy class is soon going to vanish.  Built in 1902 as the Euclid Avenue Episcopal Church, it has had City Of Cleveland Landmark status for many years, which will be of course "taken care of", as usual, by the Cleveland De-Landmarking Commission.  "The fix is in", already, apparently, as one can surmise from the demolition fence now surrounding the building, seen in the recently-taken accompanying photograph.  Not having been used for a number of years, the Episcopal Diocese, who still owns it, will be demolishing it so that the Cleveland Clinic can purchase the land from them so that they can add in some way to their ever-expanding campus that is already the size of a small city, in itself.  (It shouldn't be long before Cleveland, Ohio, is transformed into Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.)  This church is the oldest of three churches extant in Cleveland known to have been designed by firms headed by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram (in this example, it was Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson).  Cram's work, the bulk of which was churches, is considered by many architectural historians as being of national and/or international importance.  Time Magazine did a cover story on him in 1926.  But even the possession of this distinction will not save this building from the wreckers in the uncultured atmosphere of Cleveland's modern-day return to the Dark Ages.  In Cleveland, the only thing that gets respect is money -- of which the Cleveland Clinic has unlimited quantities.  Money can't buy you love, but it sure can buy up (and throw out) all of a city's built history.

Friday, May 17, 2013

MORE ARCHITECTURAL BEAUTY TO BE EXCHANGED FOR BLACKTOP AND YELLOW LINES

Accompanying this post are three views from 1995 of what originally had been the Fifth Church Of Christ Scientist, a dome-roofed Classical Revival structure built in Cleveland, Ohio, at Lake and W. 117th in 1926, from designs created by architect Frank Bail.  Abandoned by the congregation in the 1980s, it has been unused since that time.  It is now only a short spell of time away from its demolition.  A small, grass-roots group -- named, simply and appropriately, "Save Fifth Church" -- had attempted to grab the attention of someone who could be a new owner, who they hoped would renovate the deteriorated structure.  Now even they have abandoned this historic structure, compromising their original position -- reinventing themselves as "Neighbors In Action" and now primarily advocating only the preservation of the church's portico as a sort of classy entrance to a small, neighborhood park.  Of course, none of this can happen without extensive community support, particularly of the political persuasion, and many thousands of dollars, which of course has not materialized.  More than likely, all that is going to occur is that the entire structure will be demolished so that the owner, now in the process of constructing a new retail complex immediately adjacent to the site, will be able to provide more parking.  It is nothing less than impressive that a group of individuals, that are not the usual very tiny group of genuine preservationists, formed in the first place with a goal of trying to save an attractive, historic building -- a rare occurance, indeed, in a city notorious for obliterating as much of its built past as it possibly can, and having a general population who otherwise are either passive and indifferent, or who blindly support only anything that is new.


Monday, January 07, 2013

ANOTHER BATTLE LOST -- "CLEVELAND-STYLE"





STANLEY BLOCK - 1928
STANLEY BLOCK - May 2012
As another sad event within the locally highly-publicized drama associated with Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino's complete disregard of local history, it would appear that the casino is once again about to achieve another "victory" via the upcoming demolition of the historic Stanley Block, the final historic building that has stood in the way of their occupation of the entire block southeast of the intersection of Ontario and Prospect avenues.  What makes this loss especially painful is the fact that the casino didn't have to lift a finger to make this happen -- all it took was the other nemesis of Historic Preservation -- conscious neglect of the owner of a historic building.  Literally the sole surviving pre-1880s structure in the downtown area outside of the Warehouse District, the Stanley Block is actually two structures.  The northernmost building was built in 1870 for Thomas Quinlin, and the southernmost two-thirds was built in 1871 for George Stanley.  In 1874, Stanley acquired the Quinlin building, and, since then, the whole has been known as the Stanley Block.  Only partially-owned by the casino, the other owners refused to give their permission to have the structure destroyed.  Unfortunately, their apparent total lack of financial resources (or unwillingness to spend them) caused the building's already-severely neglected condition to deteriorate even more.  The recent "superstorm" added further damage that brought it to a state condemnable by the City.  It is likely to be gone by the time you read this.