Homes Past

193 Bratenahl Road

Plat No. 631-04-001
"Brookwood" Fitch Residence
"Brookwood" Fitch Residence

James and Elizabeth Fitch purchased 55-acres from George and Hanna Freeman on February 13, 1852. The estate was named “Brookwood” and consisted of their home plus five outbuildings. The Fitches also had sizable holdings on the north and south side of Lake Shore Boulevard. A section to the east of the estate became later incorporated into the Corning parcel, which became Corning Drive.

193 Bratenahl Rd, Bratenahl, Ohio
Clark Summer Residence

Henry and Eliza Clark acquired 20 acres on the Fitch property's western portion on June 24, 1862. They built a country place at the foot of Doan Street (East 105th Street then Bratenahl Road) in 1862. Their intown home was located at 2808 Euclid Avenue.

The Clarks built an ornate Federal Italianate style mansion, a carriage house, stables, and even a water tower. The landscape featured a winding driveway through a wooded area, vast green spaces, and lush gardens. The house included gaily striped awnings and vaguely Italianate ornamentation. For a time, the section of Doan Street extending north of the railroad tracks to where the turreted structure stood was called Clark Avenue.

Henry and Eliza purchase additional property east of Dugway Brook from Elizabeth Fitch on January 19, 1891.

Frederick and Mary Louise Kinsman acquired the estate from Eliza Clark on May 10, 1896. Joseph Marvin acquired the property on June 18, 1888.

Martin Stanford Robison acquired the property on June 24, 1893.

"Villa Hedges" 193 Bratenahl Road
"Villa Hedges" 193 Bratenahl Road

Frank and Sarah Robison acquired the twenty-acre property on November 8, 1893. They demolished the Clark home to make room to build their new home. The grand view of the lake from three sides of the house likely closed the deal.

The estate, including a thirty-four room home, a water tower, a carriage house, and a stable, was among the largest in the area. California privet hedges planted in front of the carriage house and stable and along the lake's bank gave the name Villa Hedges. The gracious home, with its beautiful gardens, provided an ideal setting for entertaining friends and associates.

In August 1905, Frank Robison began improvements to improve his land. The improvements consisted of building a breakwater in front of the property, which had a frontage of 1,500 feet on the lake and a drain twenty-eight feet deep along with the entire property. When the improvements were complete, Mr. Robison stated that he expected to offer some of his friends an opportunity to purchase lakefront property for permanent homes.

A breakwater, brick water drain, and a re-enforced concrete retaining wall were completed in 1908 on the Lake Erie shoreline. Robison then offered to sell to one who wanted the whole property, or he would offer to divide the property to suit six or eight desirable families that would like to have a quiet neighborhood by themselves.

Lakeside Hospital made an effort to obtain the property to be used as a new hospital site.

"Lakehurst" 193 Bratenahl Road
"Lakehurst" 193 Bratenahl Road

Sophia Strong Taylor decided to leave Taylorhurst at Terrace Road and Taylor Hill in East Cleveland. She acquired Villa Hedges on October 19, 1915. The estate had been reduced to 19 acres but was still the largest parcel of property in the area. Mrs. Taylor razed the Robison home and commissioned Charles Sumner Schneider to design her 26-room home completed in 1918.

Charles Sumner Schneider was born in 1874 in Cleveland to Reverend William and Amanda Schneider. He received his first architectural training in the office of Meade & Garfield and afterward studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Returning to Cleveland, he joined the office of William Watterson in 1901, designing the ornate Italian Renaissance-style Rockefeller Physics Building at Case School of Applied Science in 1905 and the office building of the Cleveland Baseball Company at League Park.

Schneider began an independent practice in 1908. In 1912 he was the associate architect with George Post in the Hotel Statler's design in Cleveland. He designed private residences in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Lakewood, and other cities. He was probably best-known for the Tudor Stan Hywet mansion in Akron, constructed in 1915 based on several great English country houses. He also designed Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights in 1923, Shaker Heights City Hall in 1930, and several public schools.

Lakehurst was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Lakehurst was an elegant example of Georgian Revival architecture accented with Neo-Adamesque ornamentation. The façade contained seven bays with double-hung six-over-six windows and departed from symmetry with the substitution of a sizeable round-head window in one bay to illuminate a staircase and the addition of a cameo window in another bay. The doorway on the south elevation contained a six-panel door with tracery fanlight and half-length sidelights.

Sophia Taylor constructed an enormous lily pond, a peacock house, and excellent docking facilities. White peacocks roamed her eighteen-acre lawn.

There were two vacant houses on the estate. Mrs. Taylor tried to rent them but found not tenants when applicants discovered she demanded that no alcohol be consumed on the premises except for medicinal purposes and that no elaborate entertaining be done on Sunday.

She offered the houses to St. Lukes Hospital, and they accepted gladly. The purposes of the hospital were to give disabled children the best treatment possible and to teach them: to tell the truth, to be obedient, and to commit the scripture to memory.

The entire staff of nurses and doctors and the general upkeep of the houses and the food for the patients and the staff were paid for by Mrs. Taylor.

Edward Francis Hoban, sixth Catholic bishop of Cleveland, acquired Lakehurst on July 7, 1943, through the efforts of Eleanor Strong, Sophia Taylor’s sister-in-law, after the property had languished for seven years. The Bishop previously attempted to acquire Edgewater at 12611 Lake Shore Boulevard without success.

The bishop added a chapel connected to the west elevation of the main house. The chapel had stained-glass windows from 18th century France, a multi-colored marble floor laid in a geometric pattern, paneled walls painted with floral motifs, and a ceiling mural above the altar. Hoban also constructed a one-hole golf course to indulge his love for playing golf.

Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann was transferred to Cleveland and lived on the estate after Bishop Hoban became ill.

Sea Gull Inc., represented by attorney Donald D. Smith, acquired the property from James Hickey, Cleveland's bishop, on February 9, 1978. Smith, one of eight bidders, planned to put together a group to finance the remainder to develop the area possibly into a townhouse complex.

John J. Carney and Betty Jane Kazen acquired the estate from Sea Gull Inc. on December 28, 1987.

Carney and architect Robert Corna made a presentation in 1984 to preserve the Lakehurst mansion by making it a party center and adding a swimming pool and tennis courts for the use of all residents. The plan he duplex townhouses placed in a staggered arrangement, many with a lake view. The plan also included a seven-story mid-rise building situated next to the mansion for 161 living units. The Planning Commission rejected the plan.

John Ferchill and Mike Fratello submitted approved plans for a Lakehurst Planned Residential Development in 1998. The mansion renovation cost proved to be prohibitive, and they demolished the historic mansion, transforming Lakehurst into a gated community of 18 single-family homes.