Wednesday, December 30, 2009

National Town and Country Club (Fenn Tower)

Fenn Tower, at 2401 Euclid Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio, is an art deco building that shows up in just about every architectural history of the city of Cleveland. While the building felt familiar, I couldn't place it on a map. On a drive by the other day, I realized that this was due to the way the area has been built up but also partially due to the orientation of the building.

Seen here looking south, the tower presents a less distinguished face. From this angle, the tower looks like any other brick box. Fenn Tower faces East 24th Street, rather than Euclid Avenue, which affects its visibility.

This piece of Cleveland history was built in 1930 by the National Town and Country Club as a clubhouse. It was designed by New York architects George Post & Sons. The building, 22 stories high, featured a gym, pool, dining room, as well as 120 bedrooms for the club's members. It was purchased by Fenn College, a predecessor to Cleveland State University, in 1937. The housed all of the operations of the college until it was eventually converted to the present function, as a dormitory housing 438 students.

The first floor lobby featured impressive wood and stone work. Here the elevators and stairs to the second floor can be seen

The second floor lobby features similarly impressive detail. Note the quality of work in the railing.

The panel hall, on the third floor, features walls finished with dark wood, probably walnut, with intricate inlays.

The entire third floor is not dark, however, as seen in this lounge.

The swimming pool had a massive skylight to provide better illumination.

I'm including these last two photographs because they illustrate the two rooms that we tend to spend the most money on, yet at the same time, are the least often documented and most likely to be altered as tastes change - kitchens and bathrooms. The kitchen clearly has the means to produce the number of meals required of a club of this size.

This bathroom has some interesting details. Notice the lack of handles or faucets on the sinks. The handles are on the wall above the sinks. A supply line carrying the water into the sink exits through an integral faucet. I'm not sure why there appear to be four handles for each sink.

All images are provided courtesy of the Cleveland State University Archives Photograph Collection in the Cleveland State University Library, which includes a couple hundred more images of Fenn Tower. The collection is online as part of the Cleveland Memory Project.


  1. Fenn Tower was my absolute favorite place as a student at CSU in the 90s. Although I acknowledge that CSU had to make better use of it, it still breaks my heart a little bit to know that my old broken down Fenn Tower is gone forever.

    I loved the Fenn Tower Deli on the third floor. I had class in one of the rooms that used to be the swimming pool - there was the remnant of a diving platform. The professor I worked for had an old dorm room for an office, complete with (non-working, I hope) shower!

  2. I lived in Fenn Tower Room 1107 during the 1974-75 school year. It was one of several floors reserved for the Division I Varsity athletes. We had a blast. Our own private bathrooms in each room! With showers!. Elevators with real operators! A cafeteria, gym and pool! All without having to leave to go outside.