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CHAPTER V: ASSEMBLING THE PARCELS
To build a residential community of the type envisioned by Calhoun required that the cadastral map of the area be erased and an entirely new set of property boundaries be drawn over the accumulation of a century of prior title transfers and lot subdivisions. This is more than merely taking one simple parcel of vacant land and creating an allotment -- the usual practice -- for two reasons: first the Euclid Heights site covered many such simple parcels and, second, it included two recorded subdivisions, complete with dedicated streets and a tangle of small ownership stakes to purchase. It is this process of un-doing some of the subdividing work of preceding generations and creating a comprehensive new allotment in its place that causes the evolving Euclid Heights cadastral to be here termed a palimpsest by its third layer. The first layer established the cadastral framework and the second layer brought it to what is generally the final form of property development-the recorded subdivision-but the striking out of some of this earlier work to replace it with another, larger subdivision is rare enough to warrant closer examination and the special (if fanciful) terminology of "palimpsest."
The western half of the Euclid Heights site covered most of Hundred Acre Lot 405 and part of eastern lot 404. As purchases were negotiated, titles were conveyed to either John Hartness Brown alone, or to Brown and James Greer Zachry as co-grantees. Given that Zachry was a resident of New York City, his involvement at this stage might indicate that he was acting on Calhoun's behalf in this portion of the plat as he seems to have been -- through the Railroad and Realty Security Company -- in the eastern part.
The map of Lots 404 and 405 had not substantially changed since the close of the second layer of activity in the mid-1870s (Figure 10). J.J. Low's Allotment and the allotment of Stackpole and Parker were still in existence in the southwestern portion of Lot 405, and the Parker-Stackpole partnership still owned most of the lands north up to Mayfield Road; except for Walton's Allotment in the northwest corner, which was below the ridge. The eastern portion of Lot 405 continued to be held by Fords in the north and by Wright and Edwards in the south, along Cedar Road. In the flat lands along the ridge, to the west of the two allotments, Remington had been bought out by Liberty E. Holden, a major real estate speculator of the period, and the right-of-way for Clark Street down the hill from Cliff Street was now in the name of Charles D. Bishop, who had been Stackpole and Parker's surveyor.(1)
In the three months beginning 31 January 1891 all of the important portions of the western part of Lot 405 came into the hands of Brown and Zachry. On that date Martha Wright sold the 4.58 acre parcel in the southeast corner, and fronting on Cedar Road, to Brown and Zachry for $2,290 (exactly $500 per acre). Three weeks later, on 23 February, Brown and Zachry took title to Bishop's holding, paying $5,299.20 for the 3.3 acre parcel ($1,605.82 per acre). Bishop took back a mortgage for $3,000 and presumably received the balance in cash. The Wright and Bishop transactions were recorded together on 27 February.(2)
The April transactions started with Brown receiving title to the square, ten-acre lot between Wright's and J.J. Low's on Cedar, for $6,500 ($650 per acre). The owner, Frank P. Belle, took back a $3,000 mortgage. Two weeks later, on 16 April, Frank P. Stackpole and James Parker each concluded separate transactions with Brown and Zachry, conveying their interests in lands laying mostly outside their subdivision, for $20,000 each. As this was about 25 acres, the total price received was $1,600 per acre, with Stackpole taking back an $11,000 mortgage and Parker one for $15,000. Finally, on 29 April, Horace Ford conveyed the 40 acre tract in the northeast portion of Lot 405, to Brown for $40,000 ($1,000 per acre) and took back a mortgage of $30,000. Thus, by the end of April, the western portion of the Euclid Heights site had been assembled for a price of $94,089. However, most of the Low, Parker and Stackpole allotments were not yet part of the Euclid Heights project, perhaps because their many small lots were in too many hands for Brown and Zachry to acquire easily.(3)
The next phase involved settling title into the proper hands, in preparation for creating the allotment. On 27 May, Brown conveyed the lands, to which he had taken title in his sole right, to Zachry for $50,000. On 1 July -- perhaps a day that Zachry was in town to sign papers -- Brown and Zachry conveyed an undivided 1/3 interest in the consolidated parcel to William Hiram Brown, who received a 2/12 share; John G.W. Cowles, who received a 1/12 share; and Cowles' real estate partner, Richard N. Parmely, who also received a 1/12 share. Parmely and John Hartness Brown were appointed as trustees for the purpose of:
Allotting, improving and selling said lands with the power in the said trustees to make good and sufficient warranty deeds of all land sold and to use all money received and collected by them as such trustees to pay off the mortgages now on said lands....(4)
Zachry conveyed his 1/3 interest in the trustees that same day and Cowles and William Brown followed suit on November eleventh. When 1891 closed, all of the western portion of Euclid Heights was in the hands of the trustees and, presumably, they were managing the affairs of their portion of the project.
The eastern portion of the project, while larger, was far less complicated to complete, followed a schedule quite similar to the western portion's, and also involved Zachry. The deal struck by Calhoun and Streator in the summer of 1890 was for all of Hundred Acre Lot 406, portions of Hundred Acre Lot 398, and portions of Lots 7 and 8 of the neighboring Euclid Township.* While Zachry, with Brown, was buying the western lands in April, he was also incorporating the Hudson River Realty Company in New Jersey; perhaps evoking the picturesque school of painting, then so popular, for promotional reasons. He was the major stockholder, having eighty percent of the shares outstanding, but these outstanding shares only totaled 100 of an authorized issue of 30,000 shares, each with a par value of $100.(5)
When Calhoun closed the Streator deal in July, for $223,000, he used these lands (which were mortgaged for $193,000) to acquire 2,500 of the outstanding shares of the company in August. Zachry had renamed it the Railroad and Realty Security Company, perhaps to reflect the practical, business-like sound it would have to investors, and so as to avoid the regional constraints of the Hudson River.(6)
By November of 1891, the Euclid Heights parcel -- less the remnants of J.J. Low's and of Stackpole and Parker's -- comprised over 250 acres and was bounded by Cedar Road on the south, the ridge on the west, Mayfield Road on the north and what is now Coventry Road on the east. Ownership of the parcel was vested in Brown and Parmely, as trustees for the western group, and the Railroad and Realty Security Company for Calhoun in the east. The group obtained a $60,000 from Myron T. Herrick at the Society for Savings in April of 1892, executing a mortgage as security. The next step was the laying out of the streets, blocks and building lots for sale.(7)
* In 2010, I discovered that I had here erroneously attributed Original Lots 7 and 8 to Warrensville Township. Instead they were created in the original Euclid Township survey of 1797 and in 1805 made a part of the newly-created East Cleveland (civil) Township.
The hiring of Ernest W. Bowditch symbolized the importance of the new park system to the Euclid Heights Allotment. Mrs. Warren Corning Wick, Calhoun's daughter, has claimed for her father the credit for hiring Bowditch to design Euclid Heights, but Calhoun did not have to look very far to find him.(8)
Bowditch was a Boston landscape gardener and civil engineer of some prominence, who had designed that city's park system. Born and educated in Boston, he briefly worked for western railroads and was a topographer and geographer with the federal canal expedition to the Isthmus of Darien. He later went into private practice in Boston, became impressed with landscape gardening and planned the gardens of several large estates. In 1887 he designed the residential community of Tuxedo Park, New York.(9)
Bowditch said that he came to Cleveland in the latter part of 1890 to consult with Warren Corning about landscaping his estate and here developed a good relationship with William Gordon. Bowditch suggested the idea of a boulevard along Doan Brook, linking Gordon's private park to the Wade Park upstream, and to a wider string of parks that would circle Cleveland. Gordon thought the idea too sensible for Cleveland's corrupt city government, but in his unsigned will he directed his executor -- Charles H. Bulkley, Chairman of the Park Commission -- to pursue the idea and designated Bowditch the engineer in charge. In later years Bulkley was given credit for choosing Bowditch after conducting a search that took him to New York, Philadelphia and Boston numerous times. However Bowditch came to Cleveland, Calhoun needed to do nothing more than hire whomever the park board selected.(10)
However hired, Bowditch was in Cleveland giving advice on how the city park system should be configured in December of 1891, which was during the period when Brown and Zachry were assembling the western parcel for Euclid Heights. The Euclid Heights plat was dedicated in November of 1892 and appears to be the earliest Cleveland allotment designed by Bowditch's firm. His other known projects in Cleveland, besides the park system, were the Clifton Park subdivision at the mouth of the Rocky River (dedicated in 1894), and the Highland Terrace allotment (1895).(11)
Orth's history of Cleveland states that Bowditch sent native Clevelander Myron Bond Vorce back "to develop Euclid Heights, Clifton Park and do other work of that character," and says that Vorce was a surveyor with "good mechanical skill." Vorce may have been the local person charged with obtaining measurements of the site for Bowditch to work from and other technical matters. Charles Wheeler Pratt and James E. Palmer were other engineers associated with Bowditch in the office he maintained here.(12)
The site that Bowditch and his associates had to work with was generally rectangular, with some diagonal parcels added and subtracted from the northern and western edges to accommodate the terrain. On the south it was bounded by Cedar Road and on the east by the old Streator's Road (also known as the North-South County Road), which would soon become Coventry Road. On the north it was bounded by Mayfield Road, which veered off to the northeast and added portions of Original Lots 398 and 7 to the site. On the west the presence of the ridge (popularly known locally as "Turkey Ridge," or "Heathen Ridge") caused the site to loose the northwestern corner of Hundred Acre Lot 405, but also to acquire the southeastern corner of Hundred Acre Lot 404. The site covered approximately 300 acres.
From the western ridge the land rises to the southeast, with most of the elevation change (having an average slope here of about 1:25) coming between the center of the site and the southeast corner, along the general southwest-northeast diagonal prevalent in the heights area. The elevation at the corners being 800 feet at the top of Cedar Glenn in the southwest, 820 feet at the top of Mayfield at the northwest, 830 feet at Mayfield and Coventry in the northeast, and 890 feet at Cedar and Coventry in the southeast.(13)
The immediate design problem was the continued existence of the allotments of J.J. Low and of Stackpole and Parker. The problem was not so much the legal existence of the lots, which were incorporated into the legal descriptions of the site. Rather, the streets-Cliff, Edwards, Parker, and Franklin-were dedicated for public use and would have to be vacated. Also, the ownership of the individual lots resided with many people, including Low's widow. The streets were eventually vacated by ordinance and many of the lots purchased, but perhaps not in time to meet the Calhoun group's needs. Consequently, most of the two 1870s subdivisions were left in place and Euclid Heights was designed around them.
As a consequence of the need to avoid the earlier subdivisions and because of the scenic potential of land along the cliff, the Euclid Heights Allotment was extended into the southeast corner of Hundred Acre Lot 404. This permitted a drive, "The Overlook," to be created to provide access from the crest of Cedar Glenn northward along the ridge -- intersecting with and continuing as Edgehill -- to Mayfield, approximately along the course of the phantom Euclid Heights Avenue of the 1870s. Edgehill curved south and east from Mayfield Road, ending at Cedar Road.
Interestingly, this looping configuration is then mirrored to the east by Norfolk and Mornington Roads, creating two bell-shaped streets, reminiscent of roller-coaster tracks in silhouette. These two looping roads, and a parallel, half-loop to the east (Lancashire Road), would have brought carriage and foot traffic through the allotment to Cedar or Mayfield and would thereby function as the north-south collector streets that this plat otherwise lacked. Since the looping roads led to most of the smaller lots, they served the function of the long, straight streets traditionally found in streetcar suburbs-such as the Walton Brothers' Cedar Heights Allotment (1893) across Cedar Road-only here they were aesthetically curved.
As designed, the Euclid Heights plat continued the strong east-west orientation created by Cedar and Mayfield Roads with five internal streets paralleling them: Berkshire, Derbyshire, Franklin, and Suffolk Roads and Columbia Boulevard. In the northern and eastern portion of the plat Norfolk, Lancashire, Hampshire and Uxbridge followed the contour lines and paralleled Mayfield in that quadrant. Kenilworth curved into Columbia, the grand promenade route across the plat, whose large lots were reminiscent of those found along the ridge and clearly signaled that this, too, was intended as an area of elite living.(14)
The function of Clark Street in the earlier allotments-connecting the heights to Euclid Avenue via Clark and Cornell-was performed by Edgehill, which upon cresting the hill intersected Derbyshire, an east-west street across the plat. The other streets from the earlier allotments ended at Norfolk Street, which ran north from Cedar near Low's eastern border. Franklin Street, in Stackpole and Parker's, however, crossed Norfolk and served as an east-west route across the plat.(15)
Bowditch platted 933 individual building lots in this subdivision, lots whose size reflected a socioeconomic distinction between the area along the ridge and most of the rest of the plat. In the western portion, along The Overlook, he anticipated the design he would use in Clifton Park, where side lot-lines were always perpendicular to curving streets and rear lines were always parallel to them. Everywhere else in Euclid Heights he laid out the lots to be perpendicular to the straight east-west or diagonal streets and to make no reference to the curving streets like Norfolk, Mornington, Lancashire, or Edgehill. The alignment of the lots suggests that the curving streets were important only near the ridge, but not further east, where the straight streets received the emphasis.(16)
Whatever the design emphasis, the curvilinear street patterns were significant. Frederick Law Olmsted explained how such a mixture of curving and straight streets would enhance the suburban amenities:
In the highways, celerity will be of less importance than comfort and convenience of movement, and as the ordinary directness of line in town-streets, with its resultant regularity of plan, would suggest eagerness to press forward, without looking to the right hand or the left, we should recommend the general adoption, in the design of your roads, of gracefully-curved lines, generous spaces, and the absence of sharp corners, the idea being to suggest and imply leisure, contemplativeness and happy tranquility.(17)
The eastern lots were not aligned with respect to the topography of the land. Rather, the multitude of narrow, elongated lots were arrayed in uncompromising rows, irrespective of the topography. This suggests two possibilities: either the developers intended buyers to purchase several lots and create customized parcels for larger homes or apartments, or they anticipated the type of narrow, two-family residences found south of Cedar Road, in the Cedar Heights Allotment. With the coming of the Euclid Club later in the decade, the first scenario was the one actualized in the southeastern portion of the allotment.
Along the ridge, the practice was to construct rear lot-lines parallel with the streets as they, in turn, paralleled terrain features. In this way the tendency was to produce lots of more uniform size and value. The larger lots along the ridge and along Columbia Boulevard may also have reflected the minimum size for building sites in the area, rather than their optimum size. That is, the owners were always free to purchase several contiguous lots to form larger building sites, but as the minimum size of a building site was not regulated by the deed restrictions, then the sizes of the individual lots would serve to establish such minimums in different parts of the plat.
Comparing the sizes of the lots in J.J. Low's and Stackpole and Parker's Allotments with those in Euclid Heights Allotment demonstrates that the average lot size and the diversity of lot sizes both increased between the 1870s and 1890s -- a finding consistent with Sam Bass Warner's observations in Boston. Whatever the intended function of designing lots as Bowditch did, it presented, from a marketing perspective, a mixture of products that allowed the buyers to customize their own sites.(18)
The Euclid Heights Allotment plat was recorded as eight sheets in the Cuyahoga County Recorder's map book: the western three sheets attested by John Hartness Brown and Richard M. Parmely and the eastern five sheets by the Railroad and Realty Security Company. Brown and Parmely had one of their sheets recorded on 3 December 1892, but the other two were not recorded until a year later, on 14 December 1893. There is no explanation for this lapse. The eastern sheets were all recorded on 15 December 1892, with Richard M. Parmely signing the dedication as agent for the Railroad and Realty Security Company.(19)
Curiously, this recorded plat omitted most of the lower half of the intended allotment. As seen from the Cram Company's atlas of 1892 (Figure 8, above), the allotment was designed to cover the entire site (less the two earlier subdivisions), but the plat only recorded the areas west of the earlier subdivisions and the areas north of Columbia Boulevard. Why the hundreds of lots between Columbia Boulevard and Cedar Road, from the earlier subdivisions to Coventry Road, were not recorded in the 1892 plats is unknown. As this area was never entirely recorded in subsequent re-plattings, and as it was the site of the Euclid Club and golf course after 1901, perhaps it was being reserved for the club's use. Patrick Calhoun's mansion also was in this area.
When the allotment was recorded and portions dedicated as public streets, the owners reserved to themselves the exclusive right to build any street railroad on these roads. They also reserved the right to install any sewer, gas, water or electric lines. They evidently did install the utility lines, for Brown later gave the City of Cleveland an easement to bring gas and water mains up to The Overlook from the foot of Edgehill Road and, for example, Allison J. Thompson was subsequently sold a lot with the promise that it would be connected to the sewer, water and gas systems then in place in the westerly part of the allotment.(20)
The addition of transportation and utility improvements were attempts to increase the value of the building sites by providing all the amenities of high-quality suburban living and easy access to the business world downtown. Although the Rural Ideal stressed the healthful effects of country living, it was the urban technology of Cleveland's public works systems that made suburban living possible. In 1892 the position of Euclid Heights at the fringes of the city's transportation and utility networks promised the benefits of both the urban benefits of clean water and the rural benefits of clean air.
Sam Bass Warner has pointed out that the wealthier classes were usually the ones located furthest away from the city, at the ends of the streetcar lines, and thereby were the only ones who could experience the Rural Ideal in its archetypal form. These were the ones best able to afford both the time of the commute to and the cost of developing in these fringe areas. In 1892 the Euclid Heights Allotment was designed to be at the end of all the city's transportation and utility infrastructures, deepest in the rural hinterlands of Cleveland's East End (and up on the heights, an added attraction), and carefully designed to appeal to the discriminating tastes of the social, business and professional leaders of the community.(21)
To protect this ambiance that they were designing, Calhoun and his lieutenants required that the new owners of lots did nothing to destroy the allotment's appeal. Restrictions were placed on the deeds, prohibiting certain land uses and requiring the owners to meet certain minimum standards, which varied with the location of the lot. Stewart H. Chisholm, for example -- a Millionaire's Row resident and steel magnate -- purchased lot 30, in 1895, for $11,012.50, in a particularly scenic location along Edgehill Road, near John Hartness Brown's own house. As a condition of the sale, Chisholm had to promise that for the next fifty years the lot would only be used for residential purposes, that only one dwelling unit would be erected, that it would cost at least $10,000, that it would be set back at least 80 feet from Edgehill Road and that no liquor would be sold on the premises.(22)
In 1896, wholesale druggist Ralph L. Cobb purchased lots 56, 65 and 66, creating a large building site between The Overlook and Kenilworth Road, for $14,800. The conditions of his sale were that for the next fifty years he also would only build one dwelling unit, that it would have a minimum value of $20,000, that it would be set back at least 90 feet from The Overlook, that no stables would be erected within 25 feet of any street and that no liquor would be sold. He also agreed to maintain the strip of land on the north side of The Overlook, immediately opposite his lot.(23)
Allison J. Thompson, on the other hand, purchased a much more modest site and had far fewer restriction. He paid $4,500 for small lots 867, 868 and 869 along Mayfield Road and agreed only that during the next fifty years he would refrain from liquor sales and immoral uses on his property. As this land was along Mayfield Road, the use of the land for apartments or stores may have been anticipated.(24)
Missing from these restrictions were any controls over the style of dwelling constructed. This was a staple of the Shaker Heights development of later years, but probably was not used in the 1890s. Nor did the Euclid Heights attempt to establish a business district, akin to the Van Sweringens' Shaker Square district, perhaps believing that business would take care of itself so long as it was kept out of the residential areas. As will be seen, this did eventually occur.
The Euclid Heights Allotment was launched in the summer of 1892 with large newspaper ads extolling the amenities of this grand planned community. Advertisements found in the Plain Dealer ran from the middle of the summer into the fall, suggesting a mid-summer date for the beginning of lot sales in the allotment: two years after Calhoun reportedly first saw the area and one year after he closed the land purchase with Dr. Streator.
The promotional campaign stressed several key aspects of the allotment: its location in the path of future city growth, its healthful location above city smoke, its scenic views, its rapid rail connections to downtown, its street layout, its many installed utilities, and its deed restrictions, all designed to make Euclid Heights a profitable investment. Large display advertisements emphasized different aspects of this overall package, but the clear message was one of careful planning on the part of the developers and the bountiful prospects that such a fully-planned community offered the prospective buyer.
Harkening back to the theme sounded in the previously-cited 1890 Plain Dealer article on growth in the East End, the ads said that Euclid Heights "is located at such a point that the fine residence portion of Cleveland cannot be extended without taking it in, and it is the very next property that must be used for such purposed." If Calhoun saw that 1890 article during his first visit, he was clearly echoing the theme here.(25)
To be financially advantageous to the promoters, the location of Euclid Heights had to be promoted as benefiting future buyers as well. Therefore the fact that Euclid Heights "is in the direct path of residential growth " was touted as "a surety of increasing value," and "a rare chance to get an investment which will make money," to the public. The "high-class" nature of the project was a further demonstration of the safety of investing in Euclid Heights lots.(26)
The promotional campaign was not directed at the prospective buyers of lots in the elite area near the cliff, but rather at those who might purchase lots further east, particularly the smaller lots on the secondary streets. When the advertisement listed the minimum costs of houses required by the deed restrictions, the streets specified did not include The Overlook or Kenilworth. Columbia was listed and carried the highest minimum house value at $5,000. Houses on Berkshire and Derbyshire had to cost $4,000, on Franklin $3,000, and on Mayfield, Hampshire and Lancashire, $2,000. Perhaps the elite areas, which were the first to witness the construction of large, expensive homes, were handled privately.(27)
This data also supports the conclusion, arrived at previously from examining relative lot sizes, that Columbia was intended to be a prominent boulevard. Finally, it supports the reasonable assumption that lots in the vicinity of the eventual golf course and clubhouse would be more important than those in the northeastern quarter, where apartment houses later appeared.
As the period covering the third layer of the Euclid Heights palimpsest drew to a close in 1893, the allotment had been created and offered to the public. The installation of streets and utilities was begun and some private marketing of the elite lots near the cliff may have started. The alignments of Coventry, Cedar and part of Mayfield marked the location of the first layers of the palimpsest and the allotments of the second layer, J.J. Low's and Stackpole and Parker's, still existed within the borders of Euclid Heights.
The third palimpsest layer, however, eradicated the lines of many of the intervening parcels created by the actions of the Fords, Dutys and several small landowners and the plans were in place to eliminate nearly all remaining traces of earlier cadastral lines within the plat. The developers were not entirely successful in this goal and the reasons are illuminated in the next (fourth) layer of the Euclid Heights palimpsest.(28)
The third layer of the Euclid Heights palimpsest displays the impact of the first version of the Euclid Heights Allotment on the cartographic record of the area. It epitomized the planning of residential communities at the end of the nineteenth century and erased all of the internal lines of the project site, with the exception of the earlier allotments of Low, Stackpole and Parker. Unlike those modest little allotments, however, Euclid Heights reflects the new method of creating land values by providing the healthful combination of modern urban utilities in a protected rural environment, with rapid electric transportation to the central business district. The scale of this project overshadowed everything that had gone before on the site, which is symbolized by the manner in which it re-writes the palimpsest. Significant refinements in the allotment remain in the near future of the palimpsest, but layer three represents a qualitative change in the economic opportunities in the Corners area and in the nature of land speculation on the heights.
NEXT: Chapter VI
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