Severance Family Estates
The Severance Family Estates near Mayfield & Taylor roads
In the 1880s, Elizabeth Severance Allen and her cousin, Julia Severance Millikin, established small farms along Mayfield Road near Taylor Road. In recent years, we've become accustomed to new construction in the area surrounding Mayfield and Taylor Roads: a reinvented Severance Town Center, new residential development at the Courtyards of Severance, the planned redevelopment of the Jewish Community Center site into new housing (BlueStone), and other exciting projects. With all this new activity, it is hard to imagine what this area was like in the early part of the 20th century, when Cleveland Heights was just developing as a suburb.
In recent years, we've become accustomed to new construction in the area surrounding Mayfield and Taylor Roads: a reinvented Severance Town Center, new residential development at the Courtyards of Severance, the redevelopment of the Jewish Community Center site into the Bluestone development, and other exciting projects. With all this new activity, it is hard to imagine what this area was like in the early part of the 20th century, when Cleveland Heights was just developing as a suburb.
Dr. Benjamin Millikin and Julia Severance Millikin's estate, 'Ben Brae,' the smallest of the three properties, was built on the northeast corner of Mayfield and Taylor Roads in 1913, and includes the land that now houses Fire Station Number 1 and Council Gardens. Of the three estates, Ben Brae was the least formal, designed in the English Tudor style. Constructed of brick, stone and stucco, the two-story, half-timbered house was nestled into grounds reminiscent of an English country garden. The house was demolished in 1953 after their deaths.
"Glen Allen" was constructed in 1915 by Elizabeth Severance Allen, who had been recently widowed. Designed by Charles Schweinfurth, this house also showcased the English manor style of architecture. Much like her brother's Longwood, this sprawling manor house was primarily brick with stone detailing and a combination of gabled and flat roofs. An ornate metal and glass awning made for an imposing entry to this home surrounded by extensive formal gardens. In 1917, Elizabeth married Francis Fleury Prentiss. The house was demolished not long after her death in 1944. Glen Allen was located on the land currently occupied by Lutheran High School East (built in 1957) and the Jewish Community Center (built in 1960).
John Long Severance's 125-acre 'Longwood' estate is currently home to Severance Town Center. Near the turn of the century, Louis Henry Severance purchased this property, but never lived there. In 1911, his son, John, built an English Tudor mansion designed by leading architect J. Milton Dyer. John Severance had been involved with John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company, but is most remembered for his philanthropy, donating $2.5 million for Severance Hall's construction in memory of his wife, who died in 1929.
Upon his father's death in 1913, John Long Severance inherited the property and in 1915 had the estate's interiors extensively remodeled and additions designed by the Cleveland architect Charles Schweinfurth, who also designed the still extant stables. The brick English Tudor manor house combined flat parapet roofs with gabled slate roofs, all punctuated by multiple grouped windows to take advantage of the new of surrounding grounds and formal gardens. This home was embellished with elaborate chimneys, refined stone carving around windows, doors, gables and in the parapets, and castellated stone detailing that mimicked the pattern typically associated with castles. The manor house included a drawing room, library and a great hall with a pipe organ. Upon Severance's death in 1936, the estate was inherited by Severance Millikin, son of Benjamin and Julia Millikin. After long battles between residents and the city over the redevelopment of this property, the mansion was demolished in 1961 to make way for a new mall, Severance Center, surrounded by office and apartments.