Friday, December 9, 2011

Millionaire's Row During It's Golden Age

During the mid-1800s Cleveland was just a small lake-side city with a population of 20,000. The Ohio canal gave it it's industrial start by being a means to deliver raw materials into the city.... materials which were processed and refined in the big city.

One day two Clevelanders - Dr. J Lang Cassels, a chemist, and Ohio's geologist Charles Whittlesey, explored the wilds around Upper Michigan and came back with samples and facts and dream inspiring talk. The land was rich with iron ore. Cleveland's enterprise nerve twitched and men with money and courage pitched into what was to be the city's greatest industry - Iron and Steel.

The industrial revolution of the 1860s and Civil War demanded torrents of iron, and Cleveland delivered. Mammoth ore carrying ships were emblazened with the names of their founders, all of them industrial millionaires; steel mills and refineries were cropping up all over the city and steel rails for steam-puffing iron mistresses were being made to build tracks for the goods that would soon be coming in.

John D. Rockefeller and family in Cleveland
Cleveland was becoming a young financial Hercules. A produce merchant named John D. Rockefeller came to Cleveland and founded his fortune in oil refineries; inventor Charles Brush was supplying the streets with electric light and the very first electric streetcar; Jeptha H. Wade created the Western Union Telegraph Company to help people communicate faster; dry goods clerk Henry Sherwin and EP Williams were building grinders and painting the town; Alexander Winston was selling automobiles faster than hotcakes...and what did all these people have in common? They were entrepenuers and soon-to-be MILLIONAIRES....millionaires who needed big beautiful mansions to live in.

Entrance to Sylvester Everett's Mansion

Cleveland's Euclid Avenue, otherwise known as Millionaire's Row, became the residential street of some of the most influential families in American history and their lavish estates.

Samuel Andrews Estate

During the mid-1800s several hundred mansions were built between East 20th and East 40th streets.These huge estates had broad sweeping lawns, ornate architecture and wondrous landscapes. Philanthropists and industrial tycoons like Rockefeller, Mather, Wade, Severence, Gund, and Stone and political figures such as John Hay, Tom Johnson and Leonard Hanna all made Euclid Avenue their home and their playground.


Sam Williamson, a millionaire from the tannery business, started the trend in mansion building by erecting a new home at Euclid Avenue and Public Square in 1810. Truman Hardy, Cleveland's successful banker, continued the movement by building in th 1840s, the finest residence in Cleveland near East 19th street. From then on Euclid was considered the "in" place to live. To live in the Millionaire's Row was to be a member of an exclusive private club, and between 1875 and 1900 it was known as " the most beautiful street in America". Mark Twain went so far as to say " it is one of the grandest streets in the entire world."



Fashionable Victorian homes with architectural bric-a-brac, gables, towers, and tall windows were set back from the side walk in a suburbanized parklike setting. The street was lined with arching elm trees which the merchant princes of these fine residenaces kept and added landscaping to their huge grounds giving the area the majesty of a small town street while retaining a country-like atmosphere.

Amasa Stone, John D Rockefeller, and Sylvester Everett

Millionaire's Row was not only famed for its beautiful mansiones but for its famosu sleigh races too. During the cold winters of the 1880s, the rich - bundled in buffalo robes - raced their fastest horses in afternoon contests on the "track" from Case to Erie Street. Up to thirty or forty sleighs would compete against each other with the horses being some of the finest in the world and the carraiges rivalling those of royalty. Cleveland's "first" families were represented and the competition often involved the north side of the Avenue ( those called the "Nabobs" ) against the south side ( known as the Bobs ).


The arrival of the automobile brought the age of grandeur to a close. Industry and commerce pushed its way eastward into the very doorsteps of the rich and powerful, and Cleveland's financial giants quickly moved westward in an exodus, purchasing property and new suburban homes in the countryside or on Franklin Avenue.

By the 1940s, Euclid Avenue had become a chaotic and gloomy street. Majority of the mansions were razed to make way for factories, gas stations and slum housing and today only ten of the original homes exist. These are :

  1. Luther Allen House (7609 Euclid Avenue)
  2. Morris Bradley Carriage House  (7217 Euclid Avenue)
  3. John Henry Devereaux (3226 Euclid Avenue)
  4. Francis Drury House (8625 Euclid Avenue)
  5. Hall-Sullivan House (7218 Euclid Avenue)
  6. Howe Residence (2248 Euclid Avenue)
  7. Samuel Mather Residence (2605 Euclid Avenue)
  8. Stager-Beckwith House (3813 Euclid Avenue)
  9. Lyman Treadway House (8917 Euclid Avenue)
  10. H.W. White Residence (8937 Euclid Avenue)

Sylvester Everett's Mansion
These homes were all once stunning monuments to America’s growing prosperity, but now they sit like ancient relics of the past. And only a hint remains of what once was “ the most beautiful street in America.” 

6 comments:

  1. Very interesting and informative BLOG. I enjoyed the read!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That Sylvester Everett Mansion looks like the house Doris Day buys and fixes up in the film, "Please Don't Eat the Daisies"...her son asks, "Why is it so big?" and she replies, "because we couldn't afford anything smaller." LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have always been intrigued by the Millionairs Row era. The blog was informative and interesting. It's a shame they didn't start building further east on Euclid. There's a chance that more of the old mansions would still be standing today.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What urks me most about these glorious homes being raised for the nonsense they put in the place of them is...the fact that now what was once the most richest place in the world is now the ghetto of areas. Most of the area is owned by the Cleveland Clinic foundation. I understand the upkeep of these homes and what it would have taken to keep them in full function, but what happened to most of the families or ancestors related to these homes/estates? That's where the mystery comes in and the truth lies.

    Why would anyone want to watch their family legacy disappear into gravel? I heard a lot of these big wigs took a jump over the Detroit superior bridge after the stock market crashed in 1920.. but it bounced back. Just makes me sad to live in this city and think that our city was at one time the richest and most functioning and now it's one of the poorest on the map. Makes you wonder what all the founding fathers and business men would think today if they were here!

    Oh also, a few of these business men built homes on Franklin Blvd, and those mansions-such as the Franklin Castle is still standing today.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Most of these families left Cleveland to follow the migration of industry (which is why they came there in the first place). Most of the houses where just too big to be single residencies. Some of the owners had clauses in their wills that the estate should be raised so not to become tenant housing.

    There was one house (I forget which one) that was so big, by the time it was completed and the family moved in, they immediately moved out (and back to New York) because it was completely impractical. The servants would complain that they couldn't keep the food hot between the kitchen to the dinning room.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I lived in Cleveland back in the Mid 70's never knew about this area. Wish I had visited it then

    ReplyDelete