Monday, July 19, 2010

In Memoriam: the Brainard residence

Brainard residence

I've been meaning to write about the Brainard residence for some time. It's a small house, built circa 1830-1850, located at 4107 Denison Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio. I just haven't had the time to research it among the many other projects that I've been working on.

I just learned that the house is going to be demolished soon. It is one of very few surviving houses of this age and style left in the city. It was similar, in some ways to the Leonard Case residence and the H. Mould residence, both documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey and both now lost.

Brainard residence front door

Many of the architectural details have been hidden by time and remodeling. The sidelights and transom surrounding the front door retain some obvious detail. It is similar in style to the front door of the Isaac Warren residence.

Brainard residence interior

It does retain a few interior details, like the closet door and trim seen here.

It's a small house. While it does require some major work, it's on a scale that's small enough that it could have been fixed. It's not like one of the mansions in Wade Park or East Cleveland that could easily become epic, insurmountable challenges.

Why hasn't it been saved? Because no one has stepped forward to say that they're willing to accept this challenge. People don't want to live next to falling down houses. They make a considerable amount of noise about it. It should come to no one's surprise that they are the people whose voices are heard, not the outsiders ranting about the historical importance of this or that structure.

This house falls in Ward 15, which is served on the Cleveland City Council by Matt Zone. If this bothers you, I suggest contacting him to share your feelings on the matter.

I'm not saying that we have to be the people to claim interest in these properties and rehabilitate them. If we aren't going to do that, however, we have to find people who will.

In addition to all the buildings I've written about here, there are plenty of interesting structures that I just haven't been able to learn much about. In future posts, I'll be highlighting them, so that at least they have some public recognition, before they become threatened.


  1. POI: This house was located in the NEW Ward 14 represented by Brian Cummins which until redistricting was Ward 15. This house fell on hard times quite some time ago and there are some sad stories associated with it. Neighbors adjacent to it did want it demolished. It is on a postage stamp lot that is not very useful. Strange lots were sold around this house. It was slated for demolition last summer, but several people wanted to explore the idea of saving the structure. An architect came and did the specs ot the house so that is preserved and available. Several people tried to find someone who would want it on site or take it OFF SITE. No one stepped forward, so it was deconstructed and became part of "A Piece of Cleveland".

  2. A lot of people were indignant, but nobody stepped up. The problem was further compounded by Brian Cummins saying he would do a lot of things he never got around to. After much talk, we found out that the prior owner still held title, and what Cummins was doing was taking liberties with somebody else's stuff. Properly handled, this could have been a contender for a situation in which preservationists and neighbors all won. Gloria and I live across the street and found it hard to help with the process, as the council rep as usual kept everything on close hold.

  3. You're right Chris this would have been a relatively "easy" one to save The trouble is that I and many other people who might have been able to help were not aware of the problem. That aside I know little about the nuts & bolts of saving properties but I am eager to learn Maybe future blog editions could focus on the legal, financial, and bureaucratic aspects of saving houses.

    I or someone else may have been able to do more. It is still too late to save the Brainard residence ? Can the bulldozer be stopped ? One thing I DO know comes from the website I left above. It is actually not my website but the Cuyahoga County Auditor site. There I learned 1) the Brainard residence is in foreclosure 2) back taxes owed are $4669.46 3) title holder/ owner is one Glen Reed 14335 Lorain Av. Apt 214 Clvlnd, OH 44111

    So we need people who know all about buying foreclosures to answer questions. I know there are development corporations all over Cleveland such as Near West that save buildings so individual buyers need not assume liability. I don't know which if any of these serve the W41st/ Denision area. I also don't know how much these non-prof corporations get involved in historic preservation