1579 Compton Road (2001)


In the last ten years, the front yard of this 1940 colonial has been literally re-forested, so that one has the illusion of walking through deep woods to reach the front door. A further transformation has taken place within the house, where the defining theme is "classic." A Victorian rocking horse, an Eames chair, a large picture of Colette on the staircase, a number of Chinese artifacts all live together in perfect harmony.


On the first floor, the owner replaced a living room wall, knocked out another wall to open up the dining room to the remodeled kitchen, and combined two small rooms to create a library with "floating" bookshelves. Hr replaced carpeting with green vinyl, which he felt the house seemed to demand, and indeed an original layer of green vinyl was uncovered in an upstairs bedroom.


Every door in the upstairs hallway is painted a different color, certainly an attractive convenience to forgetful guests. The bathroom has been enlarged and now contains a steam room and Jacuzzi. In one guest room the mirrored ceiling is designed to reflect the pool and the trees outside. In other rooms throughout the house, colors have been carefully chosen to match the exact shades of the trees and plants visible from the windows.


On the first floor again, the sunroom off the dining room doubles as a greenhouse in wintertime. Stepping from here to the back deck, one is welcomed by the blue pool surrounded by plantings with the bold colors, textures and fragrances of the tropics. Urns and planters of tropical banana, gardenia and bougainvillea bring the color of the perennial gardens to the pool's edge. The planters themselves have the look of sculpture or archeological artifacts. The surrounding fence, draped with vines, looks like the edge of a rainforest. From the deck, a gate opens to the side yard. A remnant of a stone foundation inspired a stone and gravel patio like the remnants of the Roman Forum. Here classic columns and capitals share the space with contemporary sculpture. Even the lawn has a sculptural quality in this garden as it cuts swaths with pleasing curves through the back yard. Leaving the garden from the side yard, note that the dense planting of evergreen azaleas and rhododendrons deliberately hides the front of the home from the street. Only the seductive curve of the sandstone sidewalk suggests there is more to see than first meets the eye.


The present house was the home of two sisters, Ida and Bertha Budde, who were highly respected teachers in the Cleveland Heights schools. For many years before the house was built, the property was owned by the Budde family, who used it as a vacation spot. The 1912 plat map shows a small structure near the ravine, probably their summer cottage. In 1913 the family decided to celebrate Thanksgiving "in the country" and were trapped by one of the worst blizzards of the century. There was enough food, but clothing proved insufficient for the bitter cold. The two sisters, who at that time were teaching in the Cleveland schools, could not meet their classes on Monday morning, and it was not until Wednesday that the work of the entire neighborhood finally opened up a track to the Mayfield carline.1

1 From The Proud Heritage of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, by Mary Emma Harris and Ruth Mills Robinson, 1966.