Wednesday, May 05, 2010


To those of you who also follow the "Cleveland Area History" blog, you have already read about this sad story. It is worthy of a second telling on this blog. Once again, "politics" have triumphed over Preservation in anti-preservationist Cleveland, Ohio. The make-believe Landmarks Commission has given their approval to the destruction of the oldest known example of the work of architect Charles Schweinfurth in the northeast Ohio area, the residence built for Lamson & Sessions officer Henry Holt in 1883, the same year that Charles & Julius Schweinfurth came here from Boston to oversee their very first Cleveland commission, the Sylvester Everett mansion on Euclid Avenue. Julius returned to Boston, but Charles remained here and had perhaps the most illustrious architectural career that Cleveland ever would witness. Among his built designs were twenty [presently known] mansions on then-famous Euclid Avenue, still more mansion-quality residences in suburban sections, numerous university buildings (especially at CWRU), and several costly churches for some of Cleveland's most significant congregations. The Holt House was constructed in what is presently the Tremont Local Historic District (hence the Landmarks Commission involvement). As has been very often the case with inner-city neighborhoods that declined in later decades, the house was purchased by a funeral director and was subjected to additions and alterations that obliterated much of the original 'fabric' of the house, exterior and interior. It was recently purchased by a special-purpose museum/archives operation, located in a historic building immediately nextdoor, for the sole purpose of removing this other structure for a 21-space parking lot. This is a facility that is open only by appointment and, overall, has very few visitors. Such a large parking lot is unwarranted. Nevertheless, the ward councilman, being a typical politician who always blindly supports any business or organization due to its potential to influence election votes, pushed to have this demolition of a historic building in a historic district be approved. Local councilpersons are who really decide the fate of historic buildings/historic districts in Cleveland, not the make-believe Landmarks Commission. Just another TYPICAL event in the preservation-pathetic environment of Cleveland, Ohio.