Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Demolition alert: residence designed by Charles Schweinfurth

Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, from Building, June, 1884

One item on the Cleveland Landmarks Commission agenda for this Thursday, March 11, is the demolition of this 1883 house at 1208 Kenilworth Avenue, in Tremont. It is known as the Henry C. Holt residence, after the man who commissioned it. Of the 30 houses in Cleveland designed by architect Charles Schweinfurth, this is one of only six that remain. Schweinfurth was one of the most significant architects in Cleveland in the 1880s and 1890s. Among his notable commissions are the Union Club, the Cuyahoga County Courthouse, the beautiful bridges over Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Trinity Cathedral, the Samuel Mather residence, and his own house.

The house is owned by the Ukrainian Museum-Archive, which purchased the house in September. The Museum-Archive is housed and operated in the house and building on the adjoining property, 1202 Kenilworth. The museum wants to demolish the house so that they can use the land for surface parking. With the landscaping that they show in the plan, this would provide for 21 parking spaces.

This house looks out over Lincoln Park - a view that was surely enjoyed by the residents for many years. It is now a bit worse for the wear - a conversion into a business left an insensitive brick addition on the front, encompassing the porch. The massive chimney, which provided visual balance, is also gone. These are not reasons alone to condemn it to the bulldozer.

Too much of this area is surface parking. It seems that each and every business needs its own parking lot, and that they're never all full at the same time. There has to be a better solution.

I encourage you to attend the Landmarks Commission meeting to share your feelings about this important residence. The meeting is this Thursday, March 11, at 9:00 in the 5th Floor Conference Center (room 514) at City Hall. While this may not be the absolute best residence designed by the man who built so many of the great Euclid Avenue homes, it's one of the few that remain. We can't afford to lose it.

Another item on the agenda is the demolition of the long vacant Eton and Rugby Hall apartment buildings, at 7338 and 7342-50 Euclid Avenue. The agenda features numerous photographs of the buildings. They do have some nice architectural detail. I'm not familar with their interior condition. If they are to be demolished, I would like to at least see their architecturally significant elements salvaged.

Finally, there are four buildings being nominated for landmark status. The nominees are three schools: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Joseph F. Landis; and Empire, and the Langston Hughes house that I've been working to help save.

I hope to see you at the meeting on Thursday.


  1. I will not be in the area for the meetings, but in spirit, I lend all my support to preserve historical beauty!!! I hope the powers that be recognize the beauty of architectural/cultural history. They just don't build with this integrity anymore!!! I pray it all works out!!! Suesan Stovall/Artist

  2. What else can people do to save this building? Most people are at work at 9 a.m. on a Thursday and unable to attend the meeting.

  3. I would suggest calling the Landmarks Commission (216-664-2531) and letting them know that you care about this building. Also, consider calling Ukrainian Museum-Archive (216-781-4329) and telling them (politely) that you really want to see this building saved.

    Finally, if there is an option for public comment at the meeting, I'll be glad to bring along (and share) any written statements that you wish to make.

  4. I'm not sure where you got this picture, but the building at 1208 Kenilworth is an orange brick box...are you sure you have the right facility?

  5. The orange brick box was added to the front of this building - and some detail has been lost along the way. Yes, I am sure that this is one and the same building.

  6. I believe this was demolished this week :-\