Sunday, May 21, 2006

Lovin' the Ohio City Home Tour

As much as we've enjoyed the home tours in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and even the Forest Hill neighborhood, our favorite annual event is the Ohio City Home Tour, which Charlotte and I attended this afternoon. Ohio City is so enjoyable because the ambiance of the neighborhood -- which is actually a designated historic district running west from West 25th Street -- is so charming and not because the homes are ostentatious. With the exception of a few larger homes on Franklin Boulevard, the "Millionaire's Row" of west side society in the nineteenth century, most of the houses are relatively modest, closely spaced, and mixed with the occasional church, school, library, cafe, bakery, neighborhood mart or even small business. Mature trees arch over small yards, usually bordered with fences of all description and often filled with lush, colorful gardens. The homes, generally built over a hundred years ago are frame or brick and most bear the woodwork, fireplaces and large, irregular rooms that are so lacking in the typical suburban home of the past century. The residents seem somehow more creative that the norm and the interiors of many of these homes reflect the bold design choices and personal collections of their owners. Each year the Ohio City folks select around 8 houses and a few apartment or condo developments to feature and give us all a glimpse of what it could be like to live in a vibrant, edgy neighborhood, where one neighbor may have spent $100,000 on a wonderfully creative restoration of a workmen's home, while on the other side, a neighbor may be on food stamps. It is this lack of economic and design homogeneity that sets off places like Ohio City, yet makes them so fascinating to visit. Taking the tour can be done by walking, by queuing up for the Lolly the Trolley shuttles or by driving from point-to-point, as we do. There are also Realtor open houses for homes not on the tour and in each of the last couple of years they have included properties every bit as memorable as those which are on the tour. You could easily double the length of the tour by hitting these open houses and thereby add a valuable dimension to the tour. Watch the Ohio City web site for the details of next spring's tour, or if you cannot wait until then, watch the paper for open houses there in the coming months.


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