Ambler Heights—one of
Cleveland’s most beautiful and bucolic enclaves, and among Northeast
Ohio’s first “garden suburbs”—was the brainchild
of Dr. Nathan Hardy Ambler and his son Daniel Caswell. Ambler made his
fortune during the California Gold Rush, largely by accepting gold dust
in exchange for the dental work he performed on miners. He also dealt
in real estate, buying property on the outskirts of Cleveland and reselling
it as the city grew. By 1872, Dr. and Mrs. Ambler had built a large home
called Rock Rest on a hill between the present Fairhill Boulevard and
Cedar Avenue (just southwest of Ambler Heights), now the site of the Baldwin
Filtration Plant. Shortly after the Civil War, Ambler and his adopted
son, Daniel O. Caswell developed Blue Rock Spring House, a water cure
resort/sanitarium which operated until 1908. Ambler died in November 1888
and is buried in Lake View Cemetery.
During the 1890s, land owned
by the Amblers south of Cedar Glen Parkway and west of Doan Brook was
largely undeveloped. By 1892, it had been platted as “Ambler Park,”
in which there were to be several large lots along the top of the ravine,
in addition to with many more, much smaller lots laid out in a north-south,
east-west grid pattern. In 1894, Ambler’s widow, Martha, donated
25 acres south of what is now North Park Boulevard for Ambler Park. Ambler
Parkway (now North Park Boulevard), running through the park, was surveyed
Around 1900, Daniel Caswell hired Charles W. Pratt to lay out “Ambler
Heights” for marketing to an upscale clientele. Pratt laid out a
neighborhood for comfortable living, with wide, gently-curving streets.
At the north boundary ran Patrick Calhoun’s street railway extension.
Immediately to the east were the links of the Euclid Golf Club. Lots were
generous and irregularly shaped to accommodate natural features.
Leaders of the Cleveland business community soon built homes, including
Benjamin Bourne, president of the Bourne-Fuller Company, and George Canfield,
president of the Canfield Oil Company. They were followed by other prominent
families, including those of Joseph O. Eaton, chairman of the Eaton Axle
and Spring Company, and Samuel Halle of Halle Brothers Department Stores.
By 1912, 31 homes had been built in Ambler Heights. By 1920, Ambler Heights
included about 56 homes of similar style and quality. By 1927, building
of the district was largely complete.