November 6, 2013
The Rev. Derek Starr Redwine
Senior Pastor/Head of Staff
Fairmount Presbyterian Church
2757 Fairmount Boulevard
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
Dear Rev. Redwine:
The Cleveland Heights Historical Society Board finds it distressful that your congregation has plans to remove 2765 Fairmount Boulevard – the Tudor Revival former residence adjacent to your church complex. This refined Meade and Hamilton design constitutes an integral component of the historic stretch of residences along Fairmount Boulevard – the Fairmount Boulevard Historic District and the core of the Shaker Farm Historic District, both on the National Register of Historic Places. Also we, and certainly many others such as Fairmount Boulevard residents, are not appeased in knowing you are allowing the opportunity for someone to purchase and move the property – which would likely not even remain within Cleveland Heights. We do not believe such a buyer will be found and, even if this person materializes and a purchase offer is agreed upon, the former manse would still be sorely missed from the site for which it was designed in 1920.
2765 Fairmount, one of its architectural firm’s finer residences, was there before the church structure and surely was considered in the original designs for the church. This residence was constructed at a time when Meade and Hamilton was at the height of their eminence and known for “completeness, convenience, and comfort” in the large dwellings they designed. A sizable gap in architecture would considerably disrupt the visual rhythm of Fairmount. The former residence also represents high quality and makes an architectural statement many a community would be grateful and proud to have in their midst.
The “Lost Cleveland Heights “ article on the Cleveland Heights Historical Society’s website (www.chhistory.org) goes into great detail regarding what the city’s built environment has been lost over the decades through 1997, with the height of demolition in the 1960s – when entire blocks were lost due to institutional and business expansion. We were hoping this sort of displacement was over forever in Cleveland Heights; since that decade there has been a gradual increase in appreciation for the fabric Cleveland Heights is fortunate to have.
The Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission was formed and the Heights Community Congress, several other organizations, and the City itself have been involved with numerous endeavors intended to make the public aware of the value of maintaining historic properties and districts – indeed, 2765 is in two National Historic Districts – but also maintaining individual buildings which are integral to a block. Cleveland Heights has lost only one residential property – on Devonshire Drive – of this caliber in over 40 years. We do not want to lose another.
Many a religious institution with substantial main buildings, as you must be aware, have found creative, permanent uses for former residences on their properties. Two examples that come to mind – one which recently renovated its neighboring house, the other with respectable plans to renovate its two houses – are, respectively, your neighbor, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and Zion Congregational in Cleveland’s Magnolia/Wade Park Historic District. The latter, indeed, scrapped its longtime plan to demolish these two fine residences to construct a Family Life Center; instead the former houses will be restored. In both cases enlightenment has ensued, and respect for historic preservation will surely inspire others in their respective communities.
The Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission has urged City Council to instigate legislation such that demolition of Cleveland Heights property is stayed at least one year to allow for public disclosure and discussion, should a property be deemed worthy of this process by the Commission and/or Planning Department. This process would be in line with many communities which have many architecturally significant properties, and allows the public to be aware of the possible removal of a significant piece of a community’s heritage and potentially be able to influence the final decision. We hope you will reconsider your plans and develop some form of imaginative adaptive reuse of this gracious dwelling.
Ken Goldberg, President, Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Mazie Adams, Trustee, Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Bill Barrow, Trustee, Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Sue Godfrey, Trustee, Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Charles Owen, Trustee, Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Korbi Roberts, Trustee, Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Christopher Roy, Trustee, Cleveland Heights Historical Society