Abram Garfield - Architect
9718 Lake Shore Boulevard and 298 Corning Drive
Abram Garfield left an indelible mark on the Village of Bratenahl. He was elected to the first Village council on December 13, 1904, with fifty-eight votes for and none opposed. He continued to serve the Village as a council member for 27 years until 1931.
In 1906, Garfield was commissioned to prepare, with all possible haste, plans, and specifications for a fully equipped, suitable school building on Brighton Road for the Bratenahl Village School District. He went on to design the three additions to the school in 1910, 1914, and 1939.
He designed the magnificent clubhouse for the Country Club in 1908. The Clubhouse stood for 56 years until being demolished in 1964 for the two Bratenahl Place Buildings.
Garfield designed the Haskell mansion, carriage house, and stables at 11719 Lake Shore Boulevard. The home was demolished around 1952 after being idle for five years. The property eventually became part of the Hanna development.
Five Garfield designed homes still grace Lake Shore Boulevard: The Baldwin home at 9534 Lake Shore Boulevard, his private residence at 9718 Lake Shore Boulevard, the Allen home at 9925 Lake Shore Boulevard, the Dalton home at 12611 Lake Shore Boulevard, and the Chisholm home at 12717 Lake Shore Boulevard. He once stated that two of the most beautiful homes he designed were the Dalton and Chisholm homes.
Abram Garfield was born November 21, 1872, in Washington, D.C., the last of seven children of President James A. and Lucretia Rudolph Garfield. He lived in the White House from when his father was inaugurated on March 4, 1881, to July 2, 1881, when his father was assassinated. Abram and his brother, Irvin, were on a train en route to the family home I Mentor..He was 8 and Irvin was 10. Word was whispered through the train not to let the boys know of their father's shooting. The boys were told after they reached Mentor.
Abram received a B.A. degree from Williams College in 1893 and a B.S. degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of technology in 1896. After traveling abroad to study architecture at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he settled in Cleveland to begin his architectural practice in 1897. His architectural practice was very dependent upon the Euclid Avenue and Prospect Avenue families starting to move out of their original city locations.
Garfield married Sarah Grainger Williams on October 14, 1897. Abram and Sarah had two children: Edward William, born on May 17, 1899, and Mary Louise (Hallaran), known as Polly, born on July 5, 1903. Edward attended Bratenahl School.
In 1898, Abram joined with Frank B. Meade to form Meade & Garfield, a premier residential design architectural firm. While in partnership with Frank Meade, Garfield became more associated with Classic Revival architecture while Meade specialized more and more in Tudor Revival.
From 1905 to 1922, Garfield practiced as Abram Garfield, Architect, designing such notables as Eldred Hall at Western Reserve University in 1900, the original Babies & Children’s and Maternity Hospital in 1923, and the Woodhill & Seville Homes for the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority. Garfield was responsible for many of the large homes in Shaker Heights.
In 1936, the firm became Garfield, Harris, Robinson & Schafer. In 1957, the firm became Garfield, Harris, Schafer, Flynn, and Williams, then Van Dijk, Pace, Westlake & Partners, ultimately becoming Westlake, Reed, Leskowsky.
Garfield was appointed to the National Council of Fine Arts in 1909 and served on the National Fine Arts Commission from 1925 to 1930. He was the founder and first president of the Cleveland School of Architecture and vice-president and vice-chairman of the board when the school became part of Western Reserve University. Garfield became a trustee of Western Reserve University in 1941, was elected an honorary lifetime member in 1943, and received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from the University in 1943.
Sarah Garfield died on February 3, 1945, at age 72, buried in Lake View Cemetery. Abram remarried Helen Grannis Mathews in 1947. Garfield closed up the mansion he designed for his wife of sixty years and moved to Cleveland Heights. He missed Bratenahl, so in 1956, he purchased a home at 298 Corning Drive, where he died on October 16, 1958. He was buried in Lake View Cemetery alongside Sarah.
Traveling throughout Bratenahl makes one aware of the numerous contributions made by Abram Garfield.