Cleveland's Pagan Village of Millionaires Without Church or School
Reprinted from "The Cleveland Leader" Sunday, January 28, 1906
BRATENAHL, Cleveland's pagan village of millionaires has several unique claims to distinction.
It has more millionaires in proportion to its population than any other village in America.
Yet it has no church or school.
Of its full complement of officers, only one receives a salary and graft is unknown.
It has no stores, hotels or amusement places, although it is the best-lighted community in the world.
No jail is to be found it its confines. Neither is there a saloon.
Bratenahl is exclusive. Its citizens in public life are sufficiently democratic, but at home they are self-sufficient. Business relations only are maintained with Glenville. Merchants are respectful, but not cordial, to their wealthy customers.
Seceded From Glenville
The growth of sentiment in Glenville hostile to the “nabobs” was insidious. They lived at first, in the Second ward of Glenville. Resentment was openly expressed when they threatened to secede. The ward became Bratenahl Village in October 1964. Glenville then voted in favor of annexation to Cleveland.
The annexation was the one thing Bratenahl wished to avoid. It already had reduced its tax rate from$3.24 to $1.95. Many property owners had not built homes. With the growth of the village the tax duplicate will increase and the tax rate decrease.
As citizens of Cleveland, may Glenvilleetes still bear the “Brats” a grudge. The derisive nickname was so popular in Glenville for a time and so obnoxious to the people of Bratenahl that a change of name was seriously considered. Many stories told by delivery wagon drivers who had a back-door acquaintance with Bratenahl’s households have been magnified in repetition. Many young people accordingly have extravagant ideas about the manner of life of the people of Bratenahl. The comings and goings of royalty could hardly excite more curiosity than the social movements of the “Lake Shore boulevard clique.”
Neighbors Call Them Pagans
If one were to believe the stories whispered in Glenville, the village of Bratenahl is inhabited by pagans, who will not tolerate a church and who desecrate the Sabbath by playing golf and bridge, whist and by giving dinner parties. Cleveland’s “pagan” village of millionaires has only ninety-seven people.
Less than seventy families live within its boundaries, which are the lake on the north, the Lake Shore Railroad tracks on the south, Bratenahl Road (east of Gordon Park) on the west and Coit Avenue on the east. Not all of its citizens are millionaires, for there is a little settlement along the railroad composed of families of artisans, tradesmen, and workmen. The children in the little settlement outnumber the children of the rich and yet there are only (unable to read) schoolchildren in the village.
Nothing But Money to Spend
The artistic homes which have been built during the past five or six years, the beautiful grounds which surround them and the substantial improvement which has been made have fostered the impression that Bratenahl citizens have nothing but money to spend and little to do but spend it.
Interested, though envious, neighbors from “across the tracks” remember when Bratenahl had three miles of muddy streets. They kept track of boulevarding over two miles of the streets. They knew that it cost $86,000 to complete the improvements. It was deemed extravagant to place street lamps 150 feet apart throughout the village and pay $3,000 a year for their maintenance. Other lamps placed closer together in the extensive private grounds entailed a “sinful” waste of money. Now “critics” are almost proud of the knowledge that Bratenahl is the best-lighted community in the world.
An election in Bratenahl was looked upon as a sort of joke until certain tilts in the old Glenville council were remembered. The fighting powers of L. E. Holden and R. L. Ireland are painful memories. The village organization includes L. E. Holden, mayor; C. A. Neff, clerk (the only man who draws a salary); and R. L. Ireland, James Patton, Christian Gottschalt, Abraham Garfield, N. W. Stanley, and C. S. Britton, councilman. Bert Sheldon is the sheriff and J. S. Newkirk is the marshal. The village has two policemen besides the marshal.
The village has found itself in several embarrassing positions and outside self-appointed supervisors have not lost an opportunity to poke fun at the Bratenahl solons. Critics held their noses when the weighty discussed Bratenahl’s predicament in having no one to collect their garbage. This was at a time when Cleveland purchased a garbage disposal plant. Bratenahl sought to make a contract with
No School For Children
The school situation is not satisfactory. Bratenahl has no school, yet it has children who must be sent to school. At present, they are attending the Cleveland schools, through an arrangement made with the board of education. The center of the population, as far as school children are concerned, is at eh corner of Lake Shore Boulevard and East One Hundred and Fifth street (Doan Street). A site has not been selected but probably a schoolhouse will be erected in that vicinity.
The extravagant ideas as to the future of Bratenahl held by Glenville and Collinwood neighbors relate to the erection of public buildings, additional public improvements and the growth of the village during the next fifty years.
They know that most of the property formerly was owned by the Coit and Bratenahl families. They know that it was deeded to a trust company that deeded it back to present owners with certain restrictions. These restrictions ensure the erection of residences only, except in the case of public buildings. There are no stores, hotels, saloons, or amusement places for the next fifty years, at least.
Bratenahl, in fifty years, as pictured in the minds of many who “don’t belong” and who envy all who are “on the inside,” will be an earthly paradise. Its precincts will be sacred to the lives of its citizens.
It will be a retreat for multi-millionaires, cut off from the humdrum world at every avenue of approach. Admittance will be denied to all strangers. Deliveries of household commodities will be made by Bratenahl employees from one central receiving station. The mailman only will be allowed to pass the gates and he will have an automobile.
Fifty Years From Now
The approach on the west in fifty years will have a mysterious woodland charm. Almost concealed by trees and flowering shrubs, a wonderful gate will be opened to the invited from a watchtower, which a stranger might not see. Even green turf flanks the perfect roadbed. Above the tops of even hedges, further on, may be seen artistic homes and beautiful grounds.
The whole of Bratenahl will have been transformed by a landscape architect into one beautiful park or garden. The hedges and roadway will divide the village into a northern and southern section, but property lines will be unobtrusive. They will even seem attractive on account of the setting given by the shrubs and vines.
Formal and imposing will be the approach from the south on East One Hundred and Fifth street (Doan Street). Inside a monumental gateway on the west side of the street will be a central receiving station. Building materials, household effects, merchandise of every kind which may arrive by freight or be delivered from the city will be received on the railroad side. From this station, distribution will be made throughout the village.
Club Needed For Artisans
A mammoth club building, a sort of social settlement will be found on the east side of the street. This will be erected for the artisans, tradesmen, and workmen who live in and for all employees of the village and for the employees of every household. This building will contain a large auditorium for entertainment, club rooms, library and reading rooms, banquet rooms and kitchen, gymnasiums for men and women with showers and plunge baths and lockers for all. The provision also will be made for a kindergarten and for classrooms for instruction in cooking, needlework, housework, etc.
Directly north of the clubhouse will be a hospital, generous in size and well-appointed, equipped and maintained for the benefit of employees. It will have a surgical and medical staff, the members of which may practice in connection with the hospital.
What Schools May Teach
A graded school will be housed in a handsome building north of the hospital. Instruction will be along the most approved lines. The aim will be to give the pupils (unable to read) education and at the same time make them well-rounded intellectually. Manual training will be taught. There will be special business courses. Gymnasiums with plunge and shower baths and ample playgrounds will ensure a physical development commensurable with intellectual growth. This school will be for the children of the “common people” including the employees.
From the east, the Bratenahl of the future will have the appearance of a walled city. Medieval times will be suggested by the forbidding, massive gate flanked by towers and a stretch of wall. Poplar trees and high hedges will take the place of boundary wall, however, and flowering shrubs will be substituted for a moat.
From the lake, Bratenahl may be seen in a panorama. Its exceptional beauty, as it is pictured fifty years from now, bay be analyzed in detail as a handsome private yacht glides to its mooring. The eastern breakwater, as planned by Mayor Kingman, if the future may be spoken of as today, was extended to Gordon Park long ago. Bratenahl's capital extended it to the Collinwood line. Pleasure craft only are allowed east of Gordon Park.
Room For Beautiful Harbor
The sandy cliffs have disappeared. Retaining walls of varying heights corresponding to the irregular lines of the bank have been built along the shore. Grassy slopes rise behind them, and graveled paths wind down to the beach from the pretty lawns above. The beach is free from wreckage. It is dotted with boathouses and bathhouses. Piers project from the shielded water basins from every property. Private yachts, sailboats, and skiffs are everywhere in evidence.
The individuality of each home is impressed upon the observer on the yacht. He has glimpses of buildings of many styles of architecture. A certain formality about a few of them convinces him that they are public buildings. Their size surprises him, knowing that the village is a small one. He marvels at their beauty.
The Country Club ceased to exist many years ago. It is the Bratenahl Club and is the center of social gaiety. It may be seen between two handsome buildings, which front directly upon the boulevard.
The easterly building, opposite Eddy Road, is the new town hall. Its general style of architecture is duplicated in the building on its left. The two suggest the buildings in the Cleveland group plan of public buildings. The westerly building is devoted to a library and reading rooms and an art gallery. The three buildings: the town hall, the library, and the club have important relations to the lives of all adults.
Educational Ideals Change
The first school was a model in its way, but ideas of education changed Citizens of Cleveland’s exclusive suburban village kept abreast of the times and then had the courage to put to the test the theories of one educator. How they became interested is another story.
The school, the village’s finest public improvement, consists of several buildings joined together. The buildings themselves are artistic. They are well built in every particular. The grounds are unusually spacious, there was design in their beautification. Utility and beauty, without considering the expense were the first considerations in fitting up the school. It was found that beauty and utility cost nothing extra, but brains or common sense. The school, therefore, is plain and simple, comfortable, beautiful, cheerful, and sanitary. The kindergarten is regarded as of the first importance. The children attend at an early age. The teachers are most carefully selected. The children are graded or classified in elementary and higher work, but in such a way as to be the greatest benefit to each individual. Manual training of some kind is required of both boys and girls.
May Teach All The Fads
Special attention is given to physical education in the most impressionable formative years. Gymnasium work is supplemented by instruction in swimming. The school has a regular equestrian department with horses and instructors. The riding school is a popular feature. At this school, the children learn to run automobiles.
The older children, particularly, are taught about engines and motors. Boxing, wrestling, and fencing are favorite studies with older boys. The older girls have practical training in household work, in scientific cooking, in nursing, etc. They learn about dress material, dressmaking, lace making, and fancy work. The whole idea of the school, in fact, is to make out of the children, men and women capable of providing for and managing homes such as their own.
A special bent may be indulged in the school. Pupils who evince a special interest in and special adaptability for a given subject are encouraged to perfect their talent. Provision is made for special instruction in music, art, arts, and crafts, etc. Results have justified Bratenahl citizens, it may be said, the school which grew out of theory.
Are Beauty Parlors Necessary?
The most unique public building in Bratenahl is the Women’s building. The style of architecture is unusual. Privacy and daintiness are suggested by the external appearance and the grounds. It is a “beauty” building. It is devoted to the enhancement of feminine charms. Rest, relaxation, rejuvenation are the words above the door. From the glazed sunroom at the top to the Turkish baths in the basement, the building is a marvel in beauty and elegance.
Rest For Tired Minds
The baths were not surpassed in luxurious appointments by the ancients. In modern times, refinements have been introduced which the Greeks and Romans never dreamed of. Trained and skilled assistants know how to refresh a tired body or a tired mind. Elevators are provided to reduce to the minimum physical exertion of the part of the visitors. Sleeping rooms are at their disposal. Simple, yet beautiful, appointments and furnishings induce tranquility of spirit. The services of a dentist, masseuse, hairdressers, manicurists, chiropodists, and maids may be obtained at any time.
Prophets Foresee No Church
In the future of Bratenahl, a church has had no place in the thoughts of imaginative neighbors. Apparently, they are convinced that it will remain a “pagan” village. Possibly they have not stopped to think that the non-existence of a church may not be an indication of irreligiousness. Possibly they do not realize that space is (unable to read) speaking annihilated by the use of automobiles. They may not know that many Bratenahl citizens are members of and regularly attend services in downtown churches. They may not have recognized faces of the “nabobs” in Glenville churches because they look so much like ordinary people.
The imaginary Bratenahl of the future will never be realized, however. Attempts at exclusiveness never would be successful. Access to the lake is assured for all times by way of public highways. The Lake Shore Boulevard is not owned and could not be closed by Bratenahl. The protests of residents on the lakeshore east of the village in Collinwood would not even be necessary.
The village has little room for growth; much property is unimproved but ten years will make a great difference. The artisans, tradesmen and working men in Bratenahl have a voice in its affairs. They would resent attempts to model Bratenahl after certain English villages. The pictured public and private improvements would make it a “show” place and citizens soon would resent the attention of outside strangers. (unable to read) would result in a condition like that of Newport today.
Became Exclusive Naturally
No disposition to make Bratenahl exclusive has been manifested by its citizens as a matter of fact. The section of land east of Gordon Park has appreciated as residential property. The railroads here are well away from the lake. The smoke is not troublesome and the noise of the factories is absent. It was believed that a certain number of men could be induced to build homes, if restricted, which would be to the mutual advantage of every property owner, could be enforced.
About one-third of the land formerly belonged to the Coit family. This property included the eastern portion of Bratenahl. The Bratenahl family owned much of the land at the western edge. The property lying between was purchased and deeded to the trust company.
Noted For Beautiful Homes
One of the first, if not the first new home to be built in Bratenahl was erected by L. E. Holden, the present mayor. It is situated east of Gordon Park and is known for its beautiful grounds.
The extreme eastern property on the lakeshore that is north of the boulevard is owned by Charles H. Bingham. The extensive grounds make it seem almost isolated. A small wooded gully has a winding drive that repeatedly crosses a little creek and rustic bridges. The rambling mansion is suggestive of comfort and elegance.
The homes of R. L. Ireland, Coburn Haskell, and H. M. Hanna are built above a pretty stretch of beach. The sloping, sodded bank, the piers, and bathhouses are shown in accompanying reproductions. The attractiveness of life on the lakeshore may be suggested in the homes of Mr. Ireland and Mr. Haskell.
Have Alleged Town Hall
Although envious neighboring villages claim Bratenahl is utterly lacking in the desire for municipal buildings, they are mistaken. Their mistake may be pardonable, but it is fact that the pagan villagers have designated a building on East One Hundred and Fifth street near the Lake Shore railroad as the town hall. In proof of this statement, a photograph of Bratenahl’s shining example in municipal architecture is herewith reproduced for the benefit of Missourians from Glenville. Here the village council meets on the first and third Fridays in the month. The only officer who receives a salary is the clerk.
Public Improvements Rumored
It is rumored that public improvements in Bratenahl are contemplated but no announcement has been made of them. It is known that several new homes will be built soon by property owners. Different individuals will make additional improvements to their property. At the present time, a handsome stable for H. M. Hanna is in process of erection.
Some of the Pagans
Houses in Bratenahl are occupied at present by L. E. Holden, A. F. Holden, Windsor White, Louis Williams, Abram Garfield, J. Pickands, Samuel Williamson, Mrs. Fred Goff, Charles Foote, Charles Britton, Charles Pratt, Louis Grossman, H. W. Corning, J. Patton. L. Dean Holden, Mrs. Kirby, Mr. Wright, Judge Ranney, H. M. Hanna, Coburn Haskell, R. L. Ireland, Charles Coit, Samuel Mather and Charles Bingham who own property on the north side of Lake Shore Boulevard. Charles Ricks, Max McMurray, Albert Ingalls, Charles H. Gale, and Russell Wetmore own property on the south side of the boulevard. Property owned by the Lennox Realty Company has developed a little settlement of its own. Other properties are owned by Clevelanders who expect to erect homes sometime in the future; by Haskins Realty Company and by old residents of the old Second ward of Glenville.
Nowhere in the village will there be seen any vulgar display of wealth. Personally, the wealthy citizens of Bratenahl are democratic, courteous and affable.