2740 Fairmount Boulevard (1981)


Harlen Shimmin, the architect for this house, was born and educated in Cleveland. He served as an apprentice to Charles Hopkinson and worked for him for 13 years before starting his own architectural firm in 1904. This house was built in 1923 for Stephen Balkwill. Besides 2740, Shimmin is known to have designed four other houses on Fairmount and five houses on Coventry Road. This house is distinguished from his other designs by the extensive use of hand-carved millwork on the exterior and interior.


As you enter the house, note the ornamental carving on the front bay and entrance and the millwork detail in the front vestibule, center hall and living room. The hand-carving on the mantel and stairway pilasters was done by Italian artisans. The finish on the cherry woodwork was hand rubbed with over ten coats, which explains the beautiful condition of the original finish.


Mr. Balkwill, the original owner, was an engineer and the president of the Cleveland Frog and Crossing Company, a maker of railroad tracks. He worked on the house design closely with the architect and the influence of his engineering background is evident in the incorporation of a "Water Venturi" central vacuum cleaning system, a three-fuel (coal, oil and gas), two-boiler water vapor heating system and a three-bay garage with grease pit, gasoline pump and chauffeur's toolroom.