"HIDDEN" Victorian Architecture of Lakewood, Ohio: a driving tour
by Craig Bobby
The following is a driving-tour of historic (mostly late-19th-century) structures that are either hidden from 'proper' view, contain significant details not seen unless you really look, or are otherwise going unnoticed. The driving-tour is divided into two parts, one encompassing the sites in western Lakewood, and the other for those in eastern Lakewood.
Originally a pamphlet "HIDDEN" Victorian Architecture of Lakewood, Ohio: a driving tour, photos and text by Craig Bobby (1992). In his pamphlet, Mr. Bobby acknowledges: Lakewood: the First One Hundred Years by James and Susan Borchert, for much of the basic historic information; City of Lakewood's Building Department, for supplying the Permanent Parcel Numbers for the featured sites; Cuyahoga County Archives, from whose Real Estate Appraisal cards the years of construction for some of the buildings were taken (please forgive any inaccuracies, as these were not 'confirmed' dates).
Mr. Bobby also compiles the Historic Buildings of Lakewood, Ohio database for the Library.
1. EAST ROCKPORT CENTRAL SCHOOL, 1456 Warren
Lakewood was first settled very early in the 19th-century. Before taking on the name Lakewood upon the occasion of becoming a hamlet (1889), the community was known as East Rockport. We appropriately start our driving-tour at the only public school building remaining from that era, the East Rockport Central School. As most buildings designed for institutional purposes, it is a largely undistinguished brick building. It does have tall windows, with sandstone heads and sills, and most importantly the words "East Rockport Central School" and "1879" (its year of construction) carved in sandstone blocks above the central second-floor windows and the main entranceway, respectively. It is presently being used, with the adjacent school building constructed in 1899, as the offices of the Lakewood Board of Education.
2. CURTIS HALL HOUSE, 16104 Detroit (1386 Cranford)
Lakewood thrived throughout the latter half of the 19th century via fruit-farming. The Hall family were among the more significant of Lakewood's prosperous fruit-farmers. The Curtis Hall house is one of the two Hall homesteads still standing. Built in 1864, it has since all but disappeared from view due mostly to a commercial building erected in its front-yard and additional shops grafted onto its Cranford Avenue side. Some windows and its front-porch have suffered, as well, but the flat roof with its wide overhang, and the decorative brackets and small windows just below the roofline (all typical features of the 'Italianate' style) remain as they were. See Page 22 of Lakewood - the First Hundred Years for two 'vintage' views of this house.
3. MATTHEW HALL CARRIAGE-HOUSE, behind Edwards Playground, Detroit at Edwards
Curtis Hall's brother Matthew's house was torn down so that this playground could be created. But the carriage-house, built in 1879, was spared. The unassuming two-story brick building stands quietly on the other side of the playground's rear-fence, with its two carriage doors facing into the playground.
4. 1464 Riverside
Here is an example of the type of house frequently constructed for those with moderate incomes. Built in 1884, if it weren't for the very tall first-floor windows, its age might not at all be apparent.
5. 16807 Hilliard
One of the most charming Victorian-era structures remaining in Lakewood is this spacious cottage, a substantial enlargement of an older and smaller house, sometime in vicinity of 1880. A second-floor window cutting into the roofline, decorative hoods over the windows, a marvelous set of Victorian double-doors under a transom-window, altogether make for a delightful composition. Best of all are round windows in the peak of the gables, framed by deliciously lace-like vergeboards. The iron fence surrounding the deep front-yard is not original to the house but is otherwise of the same era as the house. [See Dan Chabek's Lakewood Lore article on the Erastus Day House.]
6. RHODES ESTATE-WALL, Lake at Belle
The second part of this driving-tour commences at Lakewood Park which, until 1918, was the Robert Rhodes estate. Like many others once gracing Lake Avenue, this was Rhodes' 'country' home. Erecting an elegant wall at the street was a common practice for such estates. The wall seen near the park-entrance is a remnant of the estate-wall. If you look closely at the 'post' at the west end of the wall, you can discern "The Hickories," apparently the name Rhodes had given to his country home. [His house was built circa 1874, but it is difficult to determine if the wall was constructed at the same time.]
7. HARRIS/TOWNSEND HOUSE & WALL, 12984 Lake
Due to a thick grove of old trees, several of them evergreens, it is very difficult to get a proper look at the towered, three-floored 'Queen Anne' mansion that stands here. Most likely built sometime in the 1880s, it is the sole remaining Victorian-era lakefront estate-house. Its original estate-wall, fully intact, is very visible. A glorious example of Victorian estate-wall design at is creative zenith, this picturesque composition effectively expresses the Victorian desire to blend with Nature all that Man built in its midst. Carved at the crown of one of the posts at the driveway is "Lake Cliff", the estate's original name. [An interesting diversion from here would be to go elsewhere all along Lake Avenue to view some more estate-walls that were spared the fate of the original houses.]
8. 1421-23 Ridgewood
The paired brackets and porthole-type windows at the roof line, plus the porch columns, are all tell-tale signs of the Italianate style. This structure most likely was built sometime in the 1870's. Ridgewood Avenue, though, wasn't put through until 1905-6. This house had earlier faced Detroit Avenue. It was the residence of George F. Marshall, a Lakewood councilman and its treasurer during some of Lakewood's early years. This house was turned to face Ridgewood, after Marshall's death in 1904. This was a provision included in the transfer of the deed to the property recorded in the County Auditor's Office on July 18, 1904. The house was a duplex no later than 1913.
9. WINTERICH HOUSE, 13521 Detroit
Hidden behind the greenhouse-like flower-shop is a large house designed in the so-called Stick style and built in 1883 for Lewis Short. This design-type gets its name from many singular boards angling strategically across the exterior walls. This house also has two "jerkin-head" gables at the front.
10. 1422 Grace
A very unique overall design, this house was built in 1902 for William J. Ingram. The side of the house that faces the adjacent apartment building has the most interesting set of windows in all of Lakewood, together an eclectic mix of medieval-inspired Tudor and Gothic elements. This house was designed by architect Frederick Baird, who designed many Lakewood, and Lakewood-area, structures, c.1900-1920. He lived on W. 116th Street, near Detroit. A large number of his built designs survive today, including a house built in the Ohio City neighborhood for another member of the Ingram family.
11. 1435 Cohassett
This house, also built in 1903, has perhaps Lakewood's most distinctive facade. Gothic-arched windows and Flemish-influenced dormers are just some of the heady mix of features that make this house so visually tantalizing. It cannot possibly be all taken in at a mere glance.