Houses on the southern side of Edgehill Road west of the Mornington Lane in the Euclid Heights Historic District, Cleveland Heights. The District was listed on the Nationak Register in 2012. Photographed by wikipedia username: Nyttend own work, 2014 [public domain], accessed July, 2022.
Euclid Heights [†] is an excellent example of a suburban community of the type that developed outside many major urban areas, 1890-1930. Originally planned for an upper- and middle-class market, Euclid Heights adapted to changed economic circumstances and housing markets. Its buildings and street plan are closely associated with Cleveland Heights' settlement, commerce, and diverse population.
The district is also an intact collection of the wide range of building types popular during the period of significance: single- and double-family homes, several kinds of apartment buildings, a hotel, and commercial structures in contemporary styles. The district also contains many architecturally significant buildings by noted local architects.
Euclid Heights' developer, Patrick Calhoun, was the grandson of John C. Calhoun, the once vicepresident of the United States, Democratic senator from South Carolina, and an early advocate for railroads. Heir to this legacy, Calhoun trained as a lawyer who specialized in railroads. He arrived in Cleveland on business in 1890. According to legend, Calhoun was inspired to create Euclid Heights by the view of Cleveland and Lake Erie from Lake View Cemetery's Garfield Monument. More probably he was encouraged by local real estate entrepreneurs, William L. Rice and John Hartness Brown, to see the profitable possibilities in turning this rural community into an elite planned suburb like those along Philadelphia's Main Line and Chicago's North Shore. Agents for Calhoun began to purchase the properties for the allotment in 1891. The largest property owner was Dr. Worthy S. Streator, a Euclid Avenue resident, who raised cattle and raced horses on the broad plateau east of the bluff. The allotment's initial plat was recorded in 1892. Calhoun's Euclid Heights Realty also bought out smaller property owners in the allotment's southwest corner: John J. Lowe and realtors Thomas Stackpole and James Parker.
Borrowing the name for his allotment from Euclid Avenue, Cleveland's "Millionaires' Row," Calhoun intended Euclid Heights for middle- and upper-class suburbanites. Lots on The Overiook were not advertised for sale; they were reserved for the first dozen elite residents of the allotment, who were often investors in and/or agents for Calhoun's Euclid Heights Realty. Ads, which began to appear in summer 1892, mandated substantial home prices. Houses on Mayfield would cost $2,000; on Berkshire and Derbyshire, $4,000; on Columbia (later Euclid Heights Boulevard), $5,000. "Euclid Heights is Cleveland's Park Allotment... Beautiful streets and boulevards, Grand View of Lake and Surrounding Country ... Lots are to be used for residences only ... Only one house on a 50-foot lot. Lake View Cemetery lies across Mayfield, just to the north of the allotment; advertisements for Euclid Heights mentioned the cemetery's picturesque beauty and prestigious residents, including assassinated President James A. Garfield. To further ensure the right kind of buyer, Calhoun in 1901 built the Euclid Club with an impressive Tudor clubhouse and a golf course and donated land for the site of St. Andrew's East Episcopal Church (later St. Alban Episcopal Church) at Edgehill Road and Euclid Heights Boulevard.
Calhoun hired landscape architect E.W. Bowditch to lay out the allotment. Bowditch, trained in civil engineering at M.l.T, was already a prominent landscape designer. He had designed the suburban allotments of Tuxedo Park, N.Y. and Newton Terraces and Allston Park in the Boston area. Influenced by the contemporary ideas about "romantic" landscapes, Bowditch was in Cleveland to help shape the city's park system, suggesting that the east and west sides be connected by their parks and the lakefront. He is credited with the design of Rockefeller Park (National Register, 2005) that curves along Martin Luther King Boulevard from Wade Park at University Circle to Gordon Park at the lake shore. Bowditch also laid out the Clifton Park allotment in Lakewood.
Rice and Brown, investors in and agents for Calhoun's Euclid Heights Realty, became early homeowners on Euclid Heights' first settled street. The Overlook. Its first home designed by and for architect Alfred Hoyt Granger, was completed in 1893. Granger also designed the mansions of Rice and Brown, completed in 1896. Euclid Heights remained sparsely settled, however, due to the depression that began in 1893. To spur sales, Calhoun in 1896 bought and donated properties down Cedar Glen to the city of Cleveland so that the Cleveland Electric Railway could run a streetcar up and down the steep hill, providing easier transportation to and from downtown Cleveland and connecting Euclid Heights to the city's park system. The streetcar was the first public transportation to enter the southern portion of the suburb, making Euclid Heights and other allotments more accessible and desirable. [See: Streetcar Suburbs: 1888-1928] Public transportation, plus the return of good economic times, brought other residents to Euclid Heights. However, an 1898 map shows only 35 property owners on the 844 available lots, and six had not yet built homes.
In 1901, residents of the southeast section of East Cleveland Township voted for political independence from the township, establishing the hamlet (and then village) of Cleveland Heights. Two Euclid Heights residents, realtor Rice and banker J.G.W. Cowles, were among its first elected trustees. In 1903, The Cleveland Plain Dea/er described Cleveland Heights as an "aristocratic little village"; the accompanying photographs showed Euclid Heights mansions rather than the more modest homes in more modest developments. The 1911 Cleveland Blue Book, which kept track of the city's social elite, identified Euclid Heights as a separate neighborhood within the suburb and listed almost all of its residents although there were still few of them.
Sales in Euclid Heights had already begun to sag. It faced stiff competition from the developers of Ambler Heights, Shaker Farm, Euclid Golf, and Forest Hill. Their developers, alerted by Calhoun to the possibilities of making money in suburban real estate and more aware than Calhoun of changing tastes in suburban living, had planned smaller, less formal homes in restricted single-family neighborhoods. These developers had also not incurred the infrastructure expenses that Calhoun had been forced to bear.
In addition, Calhoun's personal finances had gone awry. In 1911, he returned from an ill-fated streetcar venture in San Francisco. In 1912, his primary lender, Cleveland Trust, brought suit against Euclid Heights Realty in order to sell its unsold properties and recover the $831,400 in bonds owed the bank. The major bondholder was John D. Rockefeller. (Rockefeller was also a major player when Grant Deming lost financial control of his Forest Hill allotment in 1914.) Calhoun stalled the bank for another couple of years, but the unsold lots in Euclid Heights went at sheriffs' auctions, two auctions in 1914 and one in 1915.
Lots purchased on the westernmost section of the allotment were restricted from anything but "private residences" for twenty years. East of Calhoun's own mansion on Derbyshire Road, for example, there were to be private residences for 20 years and at no time, any commerce "except for a club house, a high-class family hotel or public or private school." (The sale of alcohol, "spirituous or vinous," was prohibited on all properties.) Some Euclid Heights residents - for example. Dr. Charles Briggs and Caroline Herrick, the wife of Overlook resident Myron T. Herrick, - took advantage of the auctions and bought lots contiguous to their own or elsewhere in the allotment, perhaps as an investment. Four hundred and forty of the district's fine single family architect-designed homes were built from 1915 to 1930 in this neighborhood.
So eager was Cleveland Trust to sell the properties that it agreed to lend a buyer two- thirds of the property's purchase price.This easy credit (by early twentieth-century standards) speeded sales, as did the relaxation of the original property restrictions in the less elite neighborhoods that allowed smaller lots, more modest homes, duplexes, apartments, and commercial structures. Apartments were quickly built on Overlook, east of Kenilworth, and on Euclid Heights Boulevard, east of Hampshire; shops were built along Coventry and Cedar. By the time of the third sale in May 1915, apartments were also going up on Hampshire and Lancashire Roads. The Euclid Club clubhouse was sold in 1915; its golf course to the southeast (not part of the Euclid Heights allotment) was quickly developed as the Euclid Golf allotment. In 1914, there had been 94 buildings, including St. Alban Episcopal Church and the Euclid Club clubhouse, in the allotment; in 1920, there were 377 structures.
In 1930, Cleveland Heights' population was 50,945, an astonishing increase from 15,264 in 1920. Mayor Frank Cain optimistically predicted that the suburb's population would soon reach 100,000. Residents were almost all (99 percent) white. They lived in large and small allotments, most of which had been laid out in the 1910s, made accessible by streetcars, and built up in the next decade. Cleveland Heights became a city in 1921, and its council enacted a zoning code in the same year. During the 1920s, the prospering suburb had built seven elementary schools, some so full that they had temporary annexes, as well as two junior high schools, an elegant new high school, and two public parks. Streetcars ran east and west on major thoroughfares and north and south on secondary roads. Shopping centers had developed along or at the intersection of streetcar lines. Cleveland Heights described itself as a "city of churches" and indeed it had become home to more than a dozen Protestant and Catholic churches. Two Jewish congregations moved to Cleveland Heights during this decade; their members changed the suburb's ethnic composition. In 1920 residents were almost entirely native-born and Anglo-American; in 1930, more than 15 percent were foreign born, the greatest numbers coming from Germany, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.
And by 1930, the end of the period of significance, the Euclid Heights district had played a significant part in the development of this thriving suburb, contributing to its initially elite character, its development as a streetcar suburb, its commercial neighborhoods, and ultimately, its diverse population. The mansions on The Overlook and the gracious homes in the western section of Euclid Heights helped to establish Cleveland Heights as a desirable, elite suburb in its first three decades and continue to characterize and illustrate this time period. Despite Calhoun's financial failure, Euclid Heights provided a precedent for other upper- and middle-class allotments of single-family homes that aspired to its social prominence and emulated its elegant street design and high architectural standards: Ambler Heights, Grant Deming's Forest Hill, Shaker Farm, and Euclid Golf All are already on the National Register. (Eight properties in the district are also on the National Register.) Although Cleveland Heights' first zoning code accommodated the double homes, apartments, and commercial districts that developed after the sheriffs' sales, Euclid Heights' original and subsequent property restrictions allowed the suburb to remain primarily one of single-family homes.
Later developers and residents also benefited from and imitated the Euclid Heights streetcar line. New home-owners in Marcus M. Brown's Mayfield Heights, Edmund Walton's Cedar Heights, and Grant Deming's Forest Hill rode Calhoun's streetcar up Cedar Glen and Euclid Heights Boulevard. The Van Sweringens' Shaker Farm and B.R. Deming's Euclid Golf developed along the Fairmount Boulevard streetcar line. Although busses replaced the streetcars in the 1940s, they left behind wide thoroughfares on Mayfield, Cedar, and Coventry Roads and grassy median strips on Fairmount and Euclid Heights Boulevards. Streetcars spurred Cleveland Heights' rapid population growth.
Because Euclid Heights was densely settled along the streetcar lines, Cleveland Heights' earliest and most important commercial areas were developed within the Euclid Heights Historical District, district: Coventry and Cedar-Fairmount. Their most significant commercial buildings remain intact to illustrate this development.
The Coventry shopping area developed along an extension of the Euclid Heights streetcar line that ran north on Coventry to Mayfield. The first commercial building on Coventry, a non-descript brick that still stands, first housing Weader & Benfer grocers and now Heights Cleaners, was built in 1913 on the east side of the street at Euclid Heights, followed in 1915 by a gas station. (The gas station is long gone.) On the west side, within the allotment, the buildings were more distinguished, including the Heights Theater, the suburb's first movie theater, and the Burke Building. Most of the district's small shops were built between 1919 and 1922 along both sides of the street. Most shops had apartments above them. By 1929, the commercial district included some Jewish-owned shops, catering to a Jewish clientele nearby, and a few chain stores (Piggly Wiggly, Woolworth's, Fanny Farmer).
The Cedar-Fairmount commercial area developed almost simultaneously, but as a more up-scale neighborhood, along the streetcar lines that ran northeast up Cedar and southeast up Fairmount Boulevard. In 1911, the Heights Overlook Apartments were completed on Cedar Road, just east of the Euclid Heights intersection. The apartments consisted of a four-story brick building at 12337 Cedar and an eight-story building just to the east; the two were connected by an underground tunnel, which also connected to a garage or "auto hotel," as it was described on the 1913 Sanborn map.The apartments were the exception to the single-family residence requirement originally planned for Euclid Heights, very possibly because the first owner of the property was Euclid Heights Realty investor and agent, William Lowe Rice. These were Euclid Heights first luxury apartments, described in 1923 by a Cleveland newspaper as "the most exclusive ... in Cleveland, The two buildings had separate addresses by 1929, but were rejoined in 1946 to become Doctors Hospital. The hospital was demolished in 1969. Another significant property owner in the Cedar-Fairmount District was Mahler Realty, which in 1914 purchased several properties along Cedar Road. One became the Heights Center Building, and the rest were developed in the 1930s. During the 1920s, other apartments, and the Alcazar Hotel were built in the Cedar-Fairmount commercial area. Extant examples line Surrey and Lennox Roads.
Euclid Heights' housing, ranging from urban mansions to modest duplexes, from luxury to four-plex apartments, fostered the ethnic and economic diversity that is characteristic of Cleveland Heights today. In general, its more ambitious homes were built on its western boundary. The Overlook, and south of Edgehill, close to the Cedar-Fairmount commercial area. The owners of these single-family homes were middle or upper class. On Berkshire Road, for example, in 1929 lived the owners and officers of manufacturing firms such as the Bethlehem Transportation Company, W.A. Jones Optical Dispensing, Dyer Engineers, the Ohio Foundry Company, American Steel and Wire, and National Malleable and Steel Company. Home owners on East Overlook included doctors, lawyers, and officers of firms such as General Electric, M.A. Hanna, Gund Realty, and Inland Investors.'*' Architects Meade and Granger designed several of the homes on both streets. Most of the apartments, double homes, and more modest single-family homes were built north of Edgehill Road, near the Coventry commercial district. Because of its proximity to Cleveland's predominantly Jewish Glenville neighborhood, the north side of Euclid Heights became the first Jewish point of entry into Cleveland Heights. Apartments and double homes on Mayfield from Kenilworth to Coventry and on Hampshire and Lancashire had a significant middle-class Jewish population, attracted by Jewish institutions to the north (Mayfield Cemetery) and to the east on Mayfield (Temple on the Heights, the Montefiore Home, and the Heights Orthodox Congregation.)
After 1930, the end of the period of significance, some new construction in Euclid Heights did not significantly detract from the district's architectural distinction and diversity. The congregation of the First English Lutheran Church built its Gothic house of worship on Euclid Heights, completing it in 1936 despite financial difficulties. In striking contrast, three contemporary buildings were also completed in this decade. J. Byers Hays designed International Style homes at 2400 and 2404 Derbyshire Road in 1935. The Braverman Brantley Apartments at 3780 Euclid Heights Boulevard were finished in 1937. This eight-story building is an outstanding example of the Art Deco style and a designated Cleveland Heights Landmark; its architect, Sigmund Braverman, had earlier designed apartments at 2546 Kenilworth, 2688 Mayfield and 2489 Overlook.
A brief building boom took place during and after Worid War II. Modest new homes in Colonial Revival and Tudor styles were constructed, close to Coventry on Berkshire, Derbyshire, and Edgehill. In 1946, the Heights Overlook Apartments on Cedar were re-combined to form Doctors Hospital, a general medical and surgical facility. In 1952, garden apartments were built at 2395-2401 Euclid Heights. Some of the allotment's oldest, grandest homes were demolished, too large and outdated to appeal to postwar suburban tastes. The Howard Eells' mansion at Euclid Heights and Overlook, once the elegant gateway to Cleveland Heights, was replaced by an apartment in 1951. The home of Dr. Charles Briggs on Overlook and Coventry was demolished in 1965 and replaced by free-standing condominiums. In 1962, the home at 2441 Euclid Heights, at the northeast corner of Derbyshire, was razed after a fire, replaced by a small park; 2493 Euclid Heights, demolished in 1966, was replaced by condominiums in 1981. Swept up in the national enthusiasm for urban renewal, city officials demolished homes for parking lots near apartments on Euclid Heights Boulevard, Hampshire, Kenilworth, and Lancashire in the late 1960s. The city also purchased and demolished Doctors Hospital in 1969. In 2012, plans to build on the site still have not materialized, and it is now a parking lot and green space, excluded from the district. Double homes on Hampshire and Lancashire were demolished in 1973 for a high-rise, low-income apartment, Musicians Towers, and a parking lot. Urban renewal spared the Coventry commercial district although fires in 1978, 1988, and 1991 did not; existing commercial buildings were rebuilt or renovated. A new parking garage was completed in 1994, outside of the district.
Euclid Heights experienced a kind of rebirth in the first decade of the twenty- first century at the westernmost edge of the allotment. The First Church of Christ Scientist, Cleveland, on The Overlook was purchased by Nottingham Spirk Design, whose adaptive re-use of the building has won architectural awards. The building was listed on the National Register in 2003. The First English Lutheran Church on Euclid Heights was retrofitted as housing, and cluster housing was built on adjoining Derbyshire Court. This high-end housing restores the flavor of Euclid Heights' earliest and most elegant mansions.
The original Euclid Heights allotment comprised Lots 405 and 406 and portions of Lots 404, 397, 7, and 8 in what was East Cleveland Township. The northern boundary of the allotment was the south side of Mayfield Road, approximately from the top of Mayfield hill to Coventry Road. The west side of Coventry Road from Mayfield south to Cedar Road was the eastern boundary; the north side of Cedar Road west to Overlook Road, the southern boundary. The western boundary extended along Overlook to Mayfield. The historic district includes almost all of the original Euclid Heights allotment. Some noncontributing buildings and parking lots on the allotment's periphery have been excluded. A portion of the east side of Coventry Road has been included in the district because it was developed simultaneously with the west side. Both the east and west sides of the street are integral to the Coventry commercial area; both are included in the Coventry Special Improvement District a merchants' organization that self-taxes for improvements.
A portion of the western boundary. Overlook Road (The Overlook) runs along the natural bluff created by the Portage Escarpment of the Appalachian Plateau, 120 feet above Euclid Avenue, overlooking University Circle. The bluff and the gradual rise of the land to the east are the district's most prominent natural features.
Three major thoroughfares - Mayfield Road, Cedar Road, and Coventry Road are four lanes. Euclid Heights Boulevard, primarily residential, curves northeast through the allotment from Cedar Glen to Edgehill Road; it is 130 feet wide, twice the width of most other residential streets. The boulevard has a 40' grassy median strip where the Cleveland Electric Railway streetcar once connected Euclid Heights to University Circle and the city of Cleveland just to the west: the grass median divides two two-lane roads, typically 24' in each side. All streets have sidewalks and tree lawns.
The period of significance for the district runs from 1893, the date of the first home, to 1930, when the First Church of Christ Scientist, Cleveland, was essentially completed and the Euclid Heights allotment was substantially built out. Euclid Heights' first homes, built from 1893 to 1910, were the urban mansions of the allotment's westernmost boundary, The Overlook, intended to emulate those on Euclid Avenue; three of these, plus the five carriage houses of Herrick Mews built for The Overlook mansions, still stand. To the east of Overlook, south of Euclid Heights Boulevard, are curving, tree-lined streets of gracious, but less formal single-family homes, many of them architect-designed, built from 1900 to 1930.
In 1914 and 1915, developer Patrick Calhoun lost financial control of the allotment, and the original deed restrictions were partially lifted. In the next fifteen years, the allotment intended for middle- and upperclass single-family homes became a complex neighborhood of single and double homes, apartments, and shops in a wide range of architectural styles with residents of diverse backgrounds.
Double homes were built from 1915 to 1917, on both sides of Hampshire Road from Hampshire Lane west to Overlook. Then - and now- these homes offer an alternative to single-family living. The Hampshire neighborhood offers a range of two-family housing types, including the "Cleveland double." This distinctive multiple family residence is described as a "two to two and one half story horizontally divided building with identical flats or apartments on each floor. The most distinctive physical feature of this gable fronted house is the two story porch that extends the full width of the facade. Most porch railings originally were open."
Apartments were built from 1915 to 1930 on Euclid Heights Boulevard from Coventry to Edgehill; on Overlook north of Edgehill; Derbyshire Road between Surrey and Norfolk Roads; Cedar Road east of the Fairmount intersection to Norfolk; Hampshire Road between Coventry and Hampshire Lane; Mayfield between Kenilworth and Coventry. These clusters of apartments offer some of Cleveland's most intact examples of 1910s and 1920s grand apartments. Many have been converted to condominiums, assuring their continued maintenance.
Large and small commercial buildings line both sides of Coventry from Mayfield to Euclid Heights Boulevard and the north side of Cedar Road east and west of the intersection with Fairmount Boulevard. These commercial areas are largely intact, maintaining the eclectic architectural quality of the district.
The predominant styles for single and double homes in the district are Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival although there are also examples of Italian Renaissance/Mediterranean, Richardsonian Romanesque, Neoclassical Revival, French, Spanish, Queen Anne, Shingle Style, and Craftsman styles. Colonial Revival and Tudor Revival style homes take many forms and range from mansions to modest dwellings. Both styles often borrow from the Craftsman vocabulary popular in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Most homes combine styles, illustrating the eclecticism of early twentieth century domestic architecture.
The apartments and commercial buildings, built of brick and ornamented with stone or tile, have simpler, more utilitarian forms. However, their ornamentation, in the same styles as the nearby residential architecture, creates visual connections to it.
In addition to eight previously listed National Register structures, the Euclid Heights Historic District includes 1005 contributing structures. One is a hotel, six are carriage houses; 23 are commercial buildings. The rest are residential: single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments and their garages. Almost all have retained their original building materials. These include brick, stone, slate, clapboard, shingle, and stucco. The district also contains 276 buildings that are considered non-contributing either because they were built after the period of significance ended or due to significant alterations which affect their historic integrity. The total number of structures is 1, 289, including the eight previously listed resources.
Alan Gowans in The Comfortable House: North American Suburban Architecture, 1890-1930 maintains that the suburban home has expressed its owner's nostalgic desire for links with the past and his/her optimistic aspirations for future upward social mobility. This desire was pursued with special energy by the generation of suburbanites who left American cities in the first two decades of the twentieth century to establish new identities for themselves and their communities.
Within the Euclid Heights Historic District, the English-derived names of the first residential streets - Berkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Norfolk -and the predominantly Anglo-American residential styles illustrate this pursuit of an idealized past and a socially ambitious future. (These names and styles also appear in other Cleveland Heights allotments such as Grant Deming's Forest Hill, Euclid Golf, Ambler Heights, and Shaker Farm.) The homes built here reflect the architectural styles most popular at the time of construction.
† Adapted from: Marian J. Morton with the assistance of Kara Hamley O'Donnell and Ken Goldberg, Euclid Heights Historic District, nomination document, 2012, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
Berkshire Road • Cedar Road • Coventry Road • Derbyshire Court • Derbyshire Road • Edgehill Road • Euclid Heights Boulevard • Hampshire Road • Herrick Mews • Mayfield Road • Mornington Lane • Norfolk Road • Overlook Road