Saturday, August 27, 2005

Another interesting house

My accidental association with interesting houses continues. As I reported back in January, I’ve been fortunate enough to live in three unique houses in Lake County while growing up and I’ve just discovered that the one I now live in was designed by one of the partners in the famous Walker and Weeks firm in Cleveland. This wouldn’t be surprising if I lived in a mansion on Fairmount, but my modest little house is located up in northern Cleveland Heights, just south of the East Cleveland border.

My wife and I purchased the house five years ago, because we thought it was a cute little cottage that backed up on a deep wooded ravine and was affordable. While it has pleasing proportions, there was nothing about it that suggested anything special. Months after moving in we heard rumors that it had been on the local home tour, but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that we saw the on-line archives of the Heights Heritage Home Tour for 1985, which featured this house. We were surprised to note that the tour labeled this “The Faber House,” which contradicted the chain of title we’d assembled from the County Recorder’s on-line database of property transactions. There was no previous owner name Faber. So we tracked down the owner during the time of the tour and while she couldn’t clear up the Faber designation, she mentioned that old Mrs. Hart, the woman who’d owned the house for the entire 36 years previous to her, had told her that the house was designed by Walker and Weeks.

About that time, Kara O’Donnell, the Cleveland Heights Historic Preservation Planner, sent us a copy of the original permit application. This showed that the property was owned by Mrs. Hart and that Faber was merely the carpenter contractor who signed the application. What was more interesting was that the architect was listed as L.W. Stedman in the typewritten paperwork and his address was 2341 Carnegie. Looking in city directories and other sources, there seemed to be no L.W. Stedman in Cleveland. That seemed to dash our hopes that this was a Walker and Weeks house until a neighbor asked where Stedman’s office was located and we discovered that 2341 Carnegie was the Walker and Weeks building! Checking Eric Johannesen’s book, A Cleveland legacy : the architecture of Walker and Weeks, we noted that the partner who headed up planning design for the firm was Claude Wilmot Stedman. Checking the handwritten portion of the Cleveland Heights application showed that “L.W.” could just as easily be “C.W.” and so the rumor of a Walker and Weeks connection seemed proved.

C.W. Stedman’s obituary listed several prominent buildings he had been associated with, including the Cleveland Public Library main branch, on Superior, the Post Office Building behind the Terminal Tower (today’s MK Ferguson Plaza), and a whole gallery of major churches, private schools and grand residences. An architectural historian has gently suggested that this may have been a private project of Stedman’s, and not a Walker and Weeks commission, but we’re happy just to know more about the house and why it has been such a pleasure to live in.


Post a Comment

<< Home