12 West Hanna Lane (11801 Lake Shore Boulevard)
Plat No. 631-07-006
This magnificent home was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Howard and Jean Hanna Jr. assembled a 13-acre home site by first acquiring the Bulkley property, “Driftwood,” at 11475 Lake Shore Boulevard on October 11, 1902. Hanna next acquired the Frederick Root home east of the Bulkley property at 11495 Lake Shore Boulevard on May 17, 1905.
The house was designed in 1909 by the leading Classic Revival architectural firm in the nation, New York’s McKim, Mead and White.
The legendary Gilded Age design firm of McKim, Mead, and White was known for designs including the Boston Public Library, the original Pennsylvania Station in New York City, several mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, and the Newport Casino, now home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The New York firm also oversaw the expansion and renovation of the White House during the Theodore Roosevelt presidency.
Standford White was the star of the firm. His work included the second Madison Square Garden and the Washington Square Arch in New York City.
The actual designer of the Hanna home is unknown. Charles McKim retired in 1907. William Mead’s talent was more for running an office rather than designing.
Stanford White was murdered on the rooftop of Madison Square Garden in 1906 by the eccentric young millionaire Harry Kendall Thaw as a result of White’s affair with Thaw’s wife, model and chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit Thaw. Plagued by mental illness since childhood, Thaw was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
The 1955 motion picture, “The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing,” starring Ray Milland as Stanford White and Joan Collins as Evelyn Nesbit Thaw, relates the fictionalized story of the murder.
The sensational love triangle was the inspiration for the 1975 historical novel “Ragtime” written by E. L. Doctorow. The 1981 eight-time Oscar-nominated motion picture "Ragtime" based on the book included fictionalized references to White and Thaw. There is a scene where White unveils a nude statue atop Madison Square Garden, modeled after former chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit, Thaw's wife. Convinced White has corrupted Evelyn, Thaw publicly shoots him dead.
The Hannas began construction of their thirty-room Jacobean Revival home in 1909. The brick, stone, and reinforced concrete 25,000 square-foot mansion was completed in 1910. It is one of the last surviving structures designed by the architectural firm that remains preserved in the greater Cleveland area.
Although the Tudor idiom was not typical of a firm whose favorite style was the Italian Renaissance, the exterior elevations of the Hanna house were very symmetrical and almost classical in effect. The main rectangular block of the house had a steep gabled roof parallel to the lakefront. As in most McKim, Mead & White buildings, the ornamental detail, especially in the interior, was handled with exquisite taste.
The interior had strong Italian influences, featuring wood paneling from Italy and Elizabethan leaded glass sidelights. An immense Italian Renaissance center entrance hall divided the first floor and led directly to the sunroom that overlooked a beautifully designed swimming pool and terrace.
To the west of the entrance was a magnificent staircase and also a parlor and music room. The staircase featured windows reaching to the high second-floor ceiling, adding light and grace to the hall. To the east were the library, dining room and kitchen area. The kitchen area consisted of the preparation room, scullery rooms, refrigeration room, and servants dining room. Lavatories were off the library and kitchen area.
The main living rooms were detailed with either molded or paneled ceilings. Warm hues of natural walnut and oak with intricate carving by Italian craftsmen added to the grandeur. There were marble fireplaces throughout with wood trim and wood floors. The sun porch and serving rooms had quarry tile floors.
There was a door in the front hall that fits unobtrusively into the wood paneling leading to the servants’ area of the house, including the kitchen, the servants’ dining area, the back door, and the back stairs. The kitchen area generally had rubber tile or linoleum floors, painted plaster walls and ceilings, part tiled walls, porcelain, and stainless sinks, and wood and glass cupboards.
The second floor contained six bedrooms, a sitting room, and six bathrooms. Each bedroom had its own bathroom, ample closet space, and a fireplace. Room finish was with painted plaster walls and ceilings and ornate wood trim. Wood and brick fireplaces were in most of the rooms. The baths were glazed tile and marble. The rooms were connected by an interior hallway that was wood-paneled and provided closet space and had built-in bookcases.
The third floor contained storage rooms, twelve bedrooms, and two lavatories. The bedrooms were of a plain finish and each had a cedar closet. The lavatories were glazed tile.
The basement was divided into storage, mechanical and service rooms. The finish was mostly painted brick walls and painted concrete ceilings and floors. The laundry room had a wood or concrete floor and a six-foot glazed tile wainscot. Mechanical equipment included two low-pressure steam boilers, hot water boiler and insulated storage tank, pool heater and filter system, vacuum system, water softener, and air conditioning compressors.
The home was technically advanced for its time, with a central vacuum system and central air conditioning. It also had buttons in all the rooms connected to a call board in the kitchen to summon servants. An automatic four-passenger elevator serviced all four floors that the servants used to carry heavy, unwieldy items to the upper floors.
Frederick L. and Lulu Ball acquired the estate on September 4, 1946. By then it was a great big white elephant. Nobody wanted it due to the cost of maintenance. Ball acquired the home using the money from the funds received when the highway took a portion of his 9432 Lake Shore Boulevard estate. Ball liked to joke that the house was free since it was just a bank transfer.
The home was unlivable in winter. Fred Ball had taken in boarders to help pay for the maintenance. The coal-fired furnace was converted to oil. There was a gas well on the property sufficient for cooking and hot water, but not enough to heat the house. Two apartments were built in the big carriage house.
Frederick J. and Ibby Ball acquired the mansion on February 9, 1970. They took in borders to help pay for the maintenance of their inherited mansion. In 1978, Frederick held an auction at the home selling around two-hundred works by ninety of the area’s top professional artists. The auction proceeds supported the new Organization for the Visual Artis.
Newport North Shore Development acquired the property on December 7, 1989, to become part of the 75-acre Newport Harbor development. Included was the planned renovation of the former Hanna home.
John and Adele Domo acquired the manor house on January 1, 1991. The new address became 12 West Hanna Lane.
Thomas and Judith Embrescia acquired the home on January 29, 1999.
Jason and Lanee Lucarelli acquired the home on May 25, 2018.