2380 Overlook Road (1977, 1994)
This 1896 Cleveland Heights Landmark House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, which characterizes it as "Tudor eclectic." It was designed by architect Alfred Hoyt Granger1 for John Hartness Brown, a wealthy real estate developer who lost control of the house in 1908, but continued to live there. In 1910 he was an important witness and possibly a suspect in the inquest following the unsolved murder of William Rice. In 1914 he left Cleveland Heights "under a cloud" and moved to London, England.
The present owners have undertaken a massive restoration project which they hope to finish in "ten or twenty years." They plan to restore the home to its period elegance while keeping any necessary modernization as invisible as possible. For example, they will maintain the original configuration of the kitchen with its two pantries and large "cooler" room. The latter will now include a refrigerator, since there is "no one available who will deliver ice on a daily basis." The butler's pantry is being reconstructed using patterns made from hopelessly warped doors found in the elevator shaft. The elevator itself will at some point be restored to working order.
The airy and light-filled interior of the house is in surprising contrast to the somber, rather forbidding exterior. The original woodwork, which needed only polishing, is very beautiful. The drawing room is flamed maple; the dining room, entrance hall, and staircase, mahogany; and the parlor is bleached mahogany. Sliding doors between the rooms are double-sided. Carpeting throughout the house has been removed and the hardwood floors refinished. The tapestry wall-covering in the dining room is original. The owners discovered several pieces of the silk damask that had covered the living room walls and hope to incorporate them in the restoration. None of the original furniture is left.
The patterned brick terrace at the front entryway had at one time been covered with asphalt. Rather than trying to clean the bricks, the owners simply turned them over, doing much of the backbreaking work themselves. This year's Tourgoers can view the "Work in Progress" on the first floor. On future Heights Heritage Tours they will be able to follow the continued progress of the endeavor.
1 The following note was inserted into the 1977 Tour Book. Its source is not known: The history of this building is yet to be untangled. The house was completed in 1896 and designed by Alfred Hoyt Granger who, at the time, was in partnership with Frank B. Meade. The 1898 map shows the house and driveway completed, but not the carriage house. Granger left for Chicago in 1898. Meade presumably would complete the supervision of the construction. The design is consistent with this thesis, being as romantically Gothic as the house. Its great size may be accounted for by the fact that Mr. Brown was a member of the Gentlemen's Driving Club which made harness racing history at the Glenville Track.