3240 Fairmount Boulevard (2000)


The Painter Estate


In the early years of the last century, architect Frank Skeel designed a 65-room summer home for John Vickers Painter, a wealthy banker and associate of John D. Rockefeller. Painter died in 1903, before the house was completed, and the property passed to his son, Kenyon V. Painter. At first the 65-room mansion was used by the younger Painter and his family as a summer home, but after 1915 they occupied it year-round. Kenyon Painter was a colorful character, an avid hunter who collected numerous trophies and was rumored to harbor wild animals behind the stone walls of the 27-acre estate. Sadly, the Painters' daughter Allyson was killed when she fell out of the family car as it turned off Fairmount Boulevard into the estate. The car was garaged and never driven again until after the property was sold. In 1939, as a result of Roosevelt's examination of the banks, Painter was convicted of embezzlement and spent time in the Ohio Penitentiary before he was pardoned by Governor Davey. He died in 1940 and the estate was sold to the Ursuline nuns for the value of taxes owed. Mr. Painter's aviary of 500 birds from around the world was given to the Cleveland zoo.


In September of 1942 the Beaumont School for Girls, a successor to Cleveland's Ursuline Academy, opened on the site with 100 students. The new school was named for Sister Marie de l'Annunciation Beaumont, one of four nuns from France who arrived in Cleveland in 1850 to found the Academy. The first Beaumont classes were held in the mansion, which also doubled as a convent for the sisters. Through the years, many changes have been made -- to conform with fire laws, to modernize, to increase space --but the campus still has the tranquil and slightly exotic aura of its earlier history. Today the school has 450 students in grades 9-12. A new main building was opened in 1964 and the mansion is now used exclusively as a convent. The garage and stables have been converted to fine art classes and offices, and the larger of the two trophy rooms has metamorphosed first into a gym (the basketball lines are still there), and now into a music and reception room. The masonry of the trophy rooms and aviary was built by the Painters' caretaker.


In 1979 the Painter Estate was declared a Cleveland Heights Landmark. The Certificate issued by the Landmark Commission states that "the original design was executed in the Jacobean style with ‘Dutch' gables and a tile roof. Classical design is reflected in the details of the great fireplace and bay window in the original entry hall. In 1929 a large wing was added…and the design of the original exterior was radically altered by removal of its tile gable roof. Eckel and Aldrich [architects from Mrs. Painter's hometown in Missouri] designed these alternations in the Tudor style. By using a flat roof, crenellated parapets, Gothic details, buttresses, and twisted Tudor chimneys, the architecture was totally transformed to its present appearance."