This unique residence is
located in the Forest Hill development. Once the summer estate of the legendary
founder of Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller, the Forest Hill neighborhood now
includes more than 950 homes.
In 1873 Rockefeller bought his
first piece of property in what was then East Cleveland township, hoping to
operate a sanitarium in this scenic wooded area with a view of Lake Erie in the
distance. When this business venture failed, Rockefeller used the sanitarium
for a summer home and eventually acquired 700 acres of land in the area bounded
roughly by Taylor, Mayfield, Superior, and Euclid. Here he built a 9-hole golf
course, trails, and the lake which remains. After 1917, when fire destroyed the
main house, he never returned to the "Homestead."
John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated
portions of the property to Huron Road Hospital and Kirk Junior High School and
266 acres to East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights for Forest Hill Park. Hoping
to develop a 600-home planned community, John D. Rockefeller Jr. built his
first homes in the French Norman style in 1925. In 1930 the Heights Rockefeller
Building at Mayfield Road and Lee Blvd., intended as the community's commercial
cornerstone, was finished. Rockefeller's grand plans were dashed by the Great
Depression, but later developers and today's Forest Hill Home Owners, Inc. have
maintained his vision of an architecturally homogeneous, meticulously
maintained residential neighborhood in a parklike setting.
Completed in 1940, this traditional
home conforms to the development's deed restrictions in its exterior use of
brick and wood, its attached garage, and its slate roof. Decorative details
such as the paned windows and the dentils over the garage door add charm and
The traditional exterior is in
dramatic contrast with the home's eclectic, elegant interior. Each room sets
off the striking furnishings and art gathered from five continents. In the
dining area hangs a Capo di Monte chandelier from Italy. In the living room
stands a handsome black gesso chest created in 1941 by Cleveland artist
Ernestine. The bathroom medicine chests are finished with etched glass from the
Philippines. The white jade figurines come from mainland China.
To create an appropriately
formal setting, the owners removed pine panelling in several rooms and
repainted the walls and woodwork a striking white, removed built-in book cases
in the living room, restored the hardwood floors, and installed ornate
medallions under each ceiling light fixture. The completely redesigned kitchen
is both functional and dramatic, with a Sardinian granite counter, an Italian
ceramic floor, and a second elegant dining area.