Village Leader

Abram Garfield - Architect, Elected to 1st Council and Served for 27 Years

9718 Lake Shore Boulevard and 298 Corning Drive
Abram Garfield, Bratenahl, Ohio Resident

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 against. 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 was demolished in 1964 for the two Bratenahl Place Buildings.

Garfield designed the brick Georgian mansion, carriage house, and stables for Coburn and Gertrude Haskell 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 stick style Georgian home for Arthur and Reba Baldwin at 9534, Garfield's own Arts & Crafts Tudor mansion at 9718, the Colonial home for Kenneth and Joyce Allen at 9925, the majestic Georgian mansion for Henry and Julia Dalton at 12611, and the Colonial Revival mansion for Alvah and Adele Chisholm at 12717. 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 sixth of seven children of President James A. and Lucretia Rudolph Garfield. He moved to Cleveland after his father’s death in 1881. He received a B.A. degree from Williams College in 1893 and a B.S. degree in architecture from 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 practice was very dependent upon the Euclid Avenue and Prospect Avenue families who were 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 and became mayor of Bratenahl in 1939.

Abram, Sarah. Edward and Polly Garfield
Abram, Sarah. Edward and Polly Garfield

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 was becoming 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 Western Reserve University Eldred Hall in 1900, the home of Mrs. John Hay in 1910, 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, then in 1957 the firm was renamed Garfield, Harris, Schafer, Flynn, and Williams, then Van Dijk, Pace, Westlake and 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 original 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 and is buried in Lake View Cemetery. Abram remarried to 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 is buried in Lake View Cemetery alongside Sarah.

Traveling throughout Bratenahl, one is continually reminded of the many contributions made by Abram Garfield.