People

Village Leaders

Brigham and Gertrude Britton

10316 Brighton Road and 11801 Lake Shore Boulevard (17 East Hanna Lane)
Brigham and Gertrude Britton 1936
Brigham and Gertrude Britton 1936

Brigham "Boots" Britton and Gertrude “Gertie” Haskell were married on October 10, 1931. It was the marriage of two prominent Bratenahl families.

Brigham “Boots” Britton was born June 20, 1907, to Charles and Ann Britton and named in honor of their close friendship with Brigham Young. He grew up at 10211 Lake Shore Boulevard, graduating from University School in 1925 and Yale University in 1929. He worked briefly in his father’s Britton-Gardner Printing Company while establishing his own company.

Gertrude Haskell was born on May 21, 1909, to Coburn and Mary Haskell. She was privately tutored at her 11719 Lakeshore Boulevard home until she attended Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. An attack of pneumonia brought her back home until later, attending Miss Hall’s School for Girls in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She studied art education in New York and then returned to Cleveland.

On May 1, 1929, Boots and his brother, Philip, started Carter Products Corporation in a small Carnegie Avenue storefront to manufacture metal specialties.

Brigham was appointed to Bratehahl Village Council in 1940 to replace Edward Cushing, who entered the U.S. Army. Brigham's community service and business career were interrupted when he joined the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1942. He served as a major during World War II with duty in the Aleutian Islands.

In 1949, Carter Products switched to plastics and pioneered the extrusion field. Carter became the first company in America to make the lightweight plastic pipe used widely by oil and gas industries. On August 9, 1950, Carter Products became Carlon Products Corporation to match the plastic pipe’s trade name, and by that time, The company had grown to become the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic pipe.

Brigham remained president of Carlon until 1957 when he became board chairman, retiring two years later. He was a member of the Chagrin Valley Hunt, Mentor Harbor Yacht, Kirtland Country, and Tavern clubs plus the Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville, Georgia. Brigham was also Commodore of the Kolledgiwdgwok Yacht Club in Blue Hill, Maine where the Brittons maintained a summer home.

Gertrude was a founder and served as vice-president of the Britton Fund, making grants to United Way Services and other charitable organizations in Ohio. She was also a founder and president of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Women’s Committee.

Gertrude enjoyed interior and exterior decoration and designed and restored homes as a hobby. She developed a halfway house for clients of Hill House, a mental health organization, and helped build and restore several area homes. As an artist, she worked with ceramics and modeling clay.

Gertrude Britton served as a volunteer teaching arts and crafts to patients at the U.S. Marine Hospital on Fairhill Road. She was also involved with the Natural History Museum, the Junior League of Cleveland, Planned Parenthood, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, and the United Negro College Fund.

Brigham and Gertrude Britton  1967
Brigham and Gertrude Britton 1967

The family built a powerboat in their basement and had to knock out a wall to remove the boat. The boat launched successfully and even went to Put-In-Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island. When it was too much for them to handle, the boat was turned over to the Mentor Harbor Yacht Club to be used by judges during races and regattas.

Brigham and Gertrude Britton acquired 11801 Lake Shore Boulevard from Gertrude’s nephew, Robert Ireland Jr., who had inherited the estate from his mother, Kate Harvey, on May 2, 1946. They moved into the gatehouse (17 East Hanna Lane). The manor home burned to the ground in 1950.

The Brittons were instrumental in the founding and operation of the Bratenahl Development Corporation. They held the title at one time or another to the residences of Ralph Coe, Charles Strong, and Abram Garfield.

After completion of the Bratenahl Place development, the glacial progress of the sales prompted a reorganization of the Bratenahl Development Corporation ownership. Gertrude Britton became the sole pillar of financial support.

Gertrude was willing and able to continue absorbing the Bratenahl Development Corporation losses, which bought the time it needed to fill the two towers and sell the townhomes. She even went so far as to pay for lighting Bratenahl Place’s empty apartments at night so that no one could see how many units remained vacant. Her generosity averted a possible disaster.

However, even Mrs. Britton’s stoicism had limits. On July 2, 1975, Mrs. Britton, reluctantly accepting her financial advisor’s advice, sold One Bratenahl Place to B. A. Associates Ltd., who immediately proceeded to convert the rental apartments into condominiums.

The Brittons were also principal supporters of the Bratenahl School Plan that provided scholarships for Cleveland school children to attend Bratenahl schools.

In the crucial period of the 1960s and 1970s, no Bratenahl family played a more instrumental role in the survival of the village and its schools.

Brigham became ill while attending a University School football game with two grandsons. He died on November 12, 1979, at Lakeside Hospital following a heart attack.

Gertrude continued to live in the 17 East Hanna Lane carriage house until her death on July 18, 1992. She was buried alongside Bingham in Lake View Cemetery.

Brigham and Gertrude were survived by two sons: Charles Schuyler II born on July 6, 1932, and Coburn Haskell born on December 29, 1935. Both attended Bratenahl School.