2656 Berkshire Road (1982)

 

Designed around 1910-12 by Frank Meade, this residence is a fine example of the work done by the renowned Cleveland architectural firm of Meade and Hamilton. The home was built for Dora and Edwin Henn and their eight children who moved to Cleveland from Connecticut. The neighbors bemusedly referred to the home as the "Henn House."

 

Meade and Hamilton houses, of which this is typical, are characterized by a long, horizontal profile and a sloping roof with wide eaves. A chimney, the entrance, and bay windows near the center of the front wall break the monotony of the long fašade. The Henn house also embodies Frank Meade's belief in appropriateness of location for structure and his concern for the relationship between the house and the garden. Above all, the Meade and Hamilton house was intended to be livable and to reflect the standards of good taste prevalent at that time.

 

Reminiscences of a Henn daughter-in-law and the granddaughter of a later owner bespeak the success Mr. Meade achieved in creating a livable, tasteful home: The daughter-in-law remembers her Cleveland engagement party at the house and saw the formal ballroom taken over by grandchildren as a playroom. An old gardener who lived over the garage fed the robins in the neighborhood and delighted passersby as he walked down the adjoining lane trailed by robins and cats. Upon the accidental death of Mr. Henn in 1925, the house was purchased by John and Marie Coakley, who also had eight children. Two more children were born after the move. At the time, the downstairs sunporch was enclosed and the two upstairs sleeping porches in the southeastern part of the house were converted into two bedrooms and a bathroom. The house was always in a flurry of activity. Later years often saw as many as forty people, representing three generations, present for Sunday dinner. After eating at the first sitting, the grandchildren retreated to the large room in the basement for a vigorous game of Blind Man's Bluff. The adults then dined in relative calm. The controlled chaos of the kitchen was always a treat to watch. The cook, waitress, laundress, nursemaid and chauffeur had a separate dining room off the kitchen.

 

Activity spilled easily into the spacious yard; baseball games and picnics were frequent sources of entertainment, particularly when one of the Coakley daughters had a house built behind her parents' house and the two yards were treated as one. A row of trees now separates the two yards. The memories evoked by this lovely old residence are irreplaceable treasures and can only enhance a visitor's appreciation of the house itself.