2285 Coventry (1982)


St. Ann Convent was designed in 1910 as a private residence by Harlen E. Shimmin, an architect also responsible for other houses in the immediate area and elsewhere in Cleveland Heights. A 1913 edition of The Ohio Architect, Engineer and Builder describes Mr. Shimmin as "an architect of wide and varied activity. He has constructed theatres, auditoriums, industrial blocks, business houses, apartments and residences with almost equal facility and felicity."


The house was built for J.R. Nutt, a vice president of the Union Trust Company, a Cleveland bank often involved in the Van Sweringen enterprises, which failed in 1933 and was reorganized as Union Commerce Bank. Mr. Nutt was one of the men implicated in the mismanagement of the bank that led to the failure. Built on terraced land, the Convent's English manor exterior is notable because of its wide facade, a style typical for Shimmin. A rather severe and formal structure, the house had a carriage house and porte-cochere at the rear, which is where the family entrance was. Early photographs of the house suggest that the porches to the sides were later additions.


As originally designed, the Coventry Road lot ran through to Stillman, providing opportunities for large formal gardens, pools and other features designed to enhance the feeling of a country estate. The Convent included a greenhouse adjacent to the carriage house.


The main rooms of the house reflect a variety of architectural detail which is not in keeping with the English manor appearance of the exterior. This eclectic architectural style appears to be typical of Harlen Shimmin's designs. The house originally was built with a third floor ballroom. A story exists that the Nutt family allowed their servants to have "servants' balls" for the help from other homes in the area.


After the Depression, the Ursuline order, which provided teachers for the school affiliated with St. Ann Church, suffered a fire at their motherhouse and the Coventry Road house became their convent. The house has been quietly and beautifully maintained as a gracious residence for the order, noble in style and function.