1255 Oakridge Drive (1999)


This lovely 1915 colonial with hipped slate roof was designed by Charles Schneider, the architect of Stan Hywett Hall. Story has it that the house, with over 4300 square feet of living area, was built for an unmarried sister of the Prentiss family and that the architect camped on the property for a time in order to get a sense of the environment before he put pen to paper.


The front entrance, which is actually on the side of the house, opens into a hall whose handmade terra cotta floor and overhead light fixture are original. The doorbell announces visitors with the deep tones of a church hell ringing the half-hour. On the first floor, note the double-paneled doors to the living room and dining room, and the airy porch with trellis work and sandstone floor. Before the very recent renovation, the kitchen was dark and institutional, with linoleum countertops and a closed-in feeling. Portions of three walls were removed and one was moved to open the space into its current configuration. The spot for the refrigerator was carved out of existing cabinetry. Cabinets are solid cherry and the countertops are solid surface "Fountainhead." The large triple window has been repositioned.


The kitchen now opens into the breakfast room, which was originally the servants' parlor. It is a matter of historical interest that the names of the original "upstairs" people are still on the enunciator in this "downstairs" area. A short flight of stairs leads up to two good-sized bedrooms and bath, designed as sleeping quarters for the servants.


On the second floor there is a large guest room and two large suites of rooms. The master suite, as might be expected, was the domain of Miss Prentiss. A prominent feature here is the marble-faced fireplace. The smaller suite, with French doors opening onto a sunroom, belonged to Miss Smith, who was evidently the companion of Miss Prentiss. Originally there was an elevator that led from the basement up to Miss Smith's room, where it opened into what is now a bathroom. The elevator was removed in 1938, and the opening between the first floor and the basement was replaced with what a later family called the "curly steps," a wrought iron spiral staircase. These now lead from the first floor down to the library, a lovely room with cherry paneling. On the permit application, the entire cost of the staircase, the tile bath and the new paneled room, plus two coats of paint inside and out, was estimated at $2,500.


Throughout the house the doorways, windows, molding, and carving are all worth noting. They are beautifully proportioned and classically simple.


The house is set on a bluff on a wedge-shaped lot that widens toward the back. For many years, the grille area near the house served as a summer office, complete with telephone, for the then resident attorney. Recent additions are the fern garden at the side of the house and a wildflower garden at the rear of the lawn area. Here there is a clear view of the distant Lake Erie. Paths descend through a park-like area, past two pools that were originally fed by an underground piping system. At one time there had been a spring-fed natural pool at the lower level, near the north end of the property.