On & Off the Boulevard: The Grand Apartments of Cleveland Heights
While many beautiful apartment buildings were built throughout Cleveland Heights, the largest concentration can be found near Euclid Heights Boulevard in what was originally called the Euclid Heights Allotment. Prior to 1890, this area was a farming and quarrying community and, as early as 1874, was home to Worthy S Streator's dairy farm.
In the early 1890s, South Carolina railroad aristocrat Patrick Calhoun hired Boston landscape architect Ernest W Bowditch to design the Euclid Heights Allotment. Bowditch had become known in Cleveland for his design of Rockefeller Park and the adjacent Shaker Lakes Park. By 1892, the Heights stood at the edge of the city's development and Bowditch designed the 365-acre Euclid Heights neighborhood using gently curved streets and English-derived street names characteristic of the Arts and Crafts movement, all set atop a dramatic natural bluff.
Calhoun planted as many as 50,000 trees on the land that Streator had stripped of its timber. In 1892, The Plain Dealer advertisement for the subdivision touted it as having 'Beautiful Streets and Boulevards, Grand View of Lake and Surrounding Country. Electric Railways, Fresh Air, Far From Smoke and Dust, All the Conveniences of a Finished City.' Rail lines were critical to the success of these early subdivisions and developers provided this transportation to sell their properties. In 1897, Calhoun extended trolley service up Cedar Glen to Euclid Heights Boulevard to Edgehill Road, and in 1904, service reached Coventry Road.
Early residents were among Cleveland's social elite, though early land sales were disappointingly slow. By 1914, Calhoun had run up many debts improving the Euclid Heights district and remaining parcels were sold at Sheriff's auctions and deed restrictions were terminated. The plan for housing the city's elite was supplanted by a boom of developer-built houses and apartments for immigrants and the growing middle class of Greater Clevelanders. During World War I, homes and apartment buildings were rapidly constructed, and the end of the war spurred a construction boom, which continued through the mid-1920s.
Euclid Heights was anchored at its two opposite corners by commercial centers serving the adjacent residents. In 1916, the Heights Center Building was Cleveland Heights' first shopping development. In 1922, the nearby 300-room Alcazar Hotel, a residential hotel where one could stay short-term or indefinitely, was constructed in Spanish-Moorish style and, according to the Cleveland Heights Dispatch, was 'built for those who know how to live graciously and well.' The Coventry Village Business District, constructed between 1919 and 1922, was the first fully developed commercial area in Euclid Heights and anchored by the Heights Theatre at Coventry and Euclid Heights Boulevard.
Called tenement houses in their day, these multi-family buildings with names like Baltimore, Velentia and Lakeview were from two to four stories with five to forty units. A typical apartment was of brick bearing wall construction accented with stone, tile or stucco, and a flat roof highlighted with small accent roofs covered with clay roofing tiles. Buildings were commonly long, narrow and rectangular in plan with a central hallway; however, on larger units a 'U' or 'E' shaped plan was utilized to create courtyards or light wells. Wrought iron and brick balconies were common, providing residents outdoor space to call their own.
Inside, one would commonly find a straightforward arrangement of four rooms: living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom which might double as a dining, sewing or work room. This bedroom had a 'Murphy' bed that folded into a closet. Larger apartments provided dining room, sunroom and three or four bedrooms. Owners cherished the well-crafted amenities such as leaded glass cabinets, linen closets, fireplaces, ceramic tile and hardwood floors.
The apartment buildings in Euclid Heights were constructed to endure both in style and construction. Today, the brick structures stand as fine examples of 1910s and 1920s architecture and their efficiency, convenient location and stately appearance continue to attract residents from all walks of life. The charm of these grand apartments has remained constant since their construction over three-quarters of a century ago.
Walking Tour of Cleveland Heights Apartments
The Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission has put together a self-guided walking tour of the exterior of grand apartments of Cleveland Heights. For a copy of the brochure, "On and Off the Boulevard; The Grand Apartments of Cleveland Heights," email the Department of Planning and Development or call 216-291-4878.