2905 Fairmount Boulevard (1983)


While the Kings George I through IV reigned from 1714 to 1820, leading architects in England and the American colonies drew on concepts from the Italian Renaissance to create an intellectually disciplined, carefully ornamented style known as Georgian. Buildings in the Georgian style were often symmetrical with flanking wings on a rectangular plan. Ornamental cornices along the roof edge outside and plasterwork friezes near the ceilings inside were common features. Antonio Palladio (1508-1550), a Renaissance figure who had studied older Roman designs, was particularly influential on the Georgian architects. He is known for the Palladian motif - a tall round-arched opening with smaller rectangular openings on either side. When 2905 Fairmount Boulevard was built in 1915, a revival of the Georgian style was in full swing. This dignified, richly detailed house is a superlative example of that Georgian revival style.


From the sidewalk, the house has a magnificent basic symmetry. Even the chimneys are in perfect balance. Variations in the wings - semi-octagon versus rectangular - and in the first floor windows - three for the living room versus four for the breakfast room - keep the design from being static. There are only shallow projections in the sweep of the facade, but these bright white ornamental elements - a broad cornice, a horizontal stone belt at the level of the second floor, flanking pilasters (columns flattened against the wall), flat "arches" with conspicuously splayed keystones over the windows - together achieve a dramatic, highly decorative effect.


Inside the house, friezes mixing geometric and natural designs, gilded Corinthian columns and elegant plasterwork continue the play of ornament against the underlying severity of the basic design. A grand Palladian window soars above the staircase.


Frank Meade of Meade & Hamilton, the firm that designed this house, was a student of architectural history and an exponent of the Georgian Revival. He wrote in 1926 in Cleveland's Country Club News: "The Georgian house has always been characterized by an effect of order and proportion. Nothing is left to chance, but once the fundamentals are known, great variety is possible."


Meade strove in his Georgian designs to combine simplicity and good taste. "Georgian houses," he wrote, "are the product of a bygone age when there was more leisure, more time for the amenities of life, so that wherever they are found today they give forth an air of distinction which stamps them as the homes of cultured people."


The academic aspects of Georgian design would find an appreciative audience, Meade believed: "People are constantly being educated by the Press and by lectures to make a study of home building, and this is bound to result in a higher standard of domestic architecture."


Among those who shared Meade's enthusiasm for the Georgian Revival were William Fowler Nash and his wife Anna Rockefeller Nash, niece of John D. Rockefeller. They bought the 2905 Fairmount house from its original owner, John B. Crouse, early in the 1920s and it remained the Nash family home for over forty years.