For over a century, the beautiful tree shaded community once known as
“Mayfield Heights” has stood as a fine example of an early
twentieth century American suburban development. No, we’re not speaking
of the suburb that is located way out on Mayfield Road with the same name,
but rather the original Mayfield Heights that is one of the oldest residential
sections of historic Cleveland Heights.
The neighborhood, initially a part of East Cleveland Township, was envisioned
by real estate attorney, developer, and philanthropist Marcus M. Brown
(M.M. Brown). Mr. Brown and his wife, Jeannette, emigrated from Chicago
to rural East Cleveland Township in 1896. While Mr. Brown, a self-made
man, had a successful real estate and legal career in Chicago, he and
his wife moved to Cleveland to seek a less stressful lifestyle. He sought
a new life that would be beneficial for his health and allow him more
leisure time for literary and philosophical pursuits.
Shortly after M.M.
Brown’s arrival in East Cleveland Township, he constructed
a home on a Mayfield Road bluff just east of Coventry Road. Real
estate development, it seemed, was still in his blood. From his
new home, he started planning the development of a peaceful modern
suburban community to be known as “Mayfield Heights.”
The new community, bounded roughly by Mayfield Road, Superior Road,
Euclid Heights Boulevard, and Coventry Road, was christened Mayfield
Heights because it was situated above Mayfield Road’s interurban
and streetcar tracks. M.M. Brown was very much aware of the progress
of Patrick Calhoun’s nearby Euclid Heights Allotment and the
access that the new Euclid Heights streetcar would offer. M.M. Brown’s
Mayfield Heights Allotment was established immediately east of the
Euclid Heights Allotment’s Coventry Road boundary. Potential
Marcus M. Brown
residents were advised to take
the Euclid Heights car to Coventry Road and walk one block up Euclid Heights
Boulevard to the Mayfield Heights sales office.
Unlike Euclid Heights and many of the other early Heights developments
that were designed to attract a well-to-do constituency, Mayfield Heights
was originally envisioned to appeal to the middle and professional classes.
While some rather imposing dwellings were developed in the Mayfield Heights
Allotment by Mr. Brown prior to 1900 (including a splendid new estate
for himself and his family on Euclid Heights Boulevard at Wilton Road),
later residences were relatively modest builder-designed homes nestled
on smaller lots.
Unlike Euclid Heights and many of the other early Heights
developments that were designed to attract a well-to-do constituency,
Mayfield Heights was originally envisioned to appeal to the middle and
professional classes. While some rather imposing dwellings were developed
in the Mayfield Heights Allotment by Mr. Brown prior to 1900 (including
a splendid new estate for himself and his family on Euclid Heights Boulevard
at Wilton Road), later residences were relatively modest builder-designed
homes nestled on smaller lots.
M.M. Brown created a network of fine brick streets for Mayfield
Heights with such names as Center Avenue (Hampshire), Preyer Avenue (Somerton),
Florence Avenue (Radnor), Hurst Avenue (Middlehurst), Monroe Avenue (Wilton),
and Cadwell Avenue. Interestingly, Monroe was M.M. Brown’s middle
name and Cadwell was the maiden name of his wife, Jeanette. Also of interest
is that today’s Preyer Avenue was originally known as Alvin Road
and was once owned by the Preyer family.
M.M. Brown fully believed in the future of Mayfield Heights
and put every thing he had on the line for the community, however after
the turn of the century, sales began to wane and then the nationwide economic
calamity known as the “Panic of 1907” struck. Consumer interest
in real estate all but dried up and in 1908, the Cleveland Trust Company
foreclosed upon M.M. Brown and his Mayfield Heights Realty Company. The
bank took ownership of the Allotment at Sheriff Sale.
MM Brown’s house, c. 1900, still
standing at the corner of Wilton Rd. and Euclid Heights Blvd.
Subsequent to the takeover,
the legendary A.B. Smythe, founder of the Smythe, Cramer Company, was
hired by the bank to sell Mayfield Heights homes and lots. Cleveland Trust
began to aggressively market Mayfield Height. Soon large newspaper advertisements
proclaimed Mayfield Heights as “Country Life in Cleveland”
and “Real Homes for Real People.” Cleveland Trust stressed
the affordability of home ownership and its advantages to Cleveland’s
growing middle class who desired to leave the increasingly crowded and
polluted industrial city. In order to further advance the idea of “Country
Life,” Cleveland Trust changed the street names that M.M. Brown
established to the English monikers we are familiar with today. Homes
were sold for the advertised deal of “$500 down, the rest same as
rent” until all the lots were gone.
The spirit of M.M. Brown’s Mayfield Heights lives
on to this day. The neighborhood’s solid American Foursquare, Arts
and Crafts, Craftsman, Bungalow, Colonial, and Queen Anne homes have been
preserved and are mostly faithful to the styles in which they were originally
built. The community prides itself as a traditional neighborhood of attractive
homes and gardens in a friendly pedestrian-friendly environment.
Mr. Owen has initiated “The Mayfield Heights Allotment Research Project
of Historic Cleveland Heights” which includes an eventual nomination
of the vintage neighborhood to the National Register of Historic Places.
He and his wife, Dumont, live in old Mayfield Heights and are currently
restoring their home that was built by the Cleveland Trust Company in 1913.