State board recommends Cleveland Heights’s proposed Shaker Farm Historic District for National Register of Historic Places

In a press release, excerpts of which follow, members of the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board announced that they have voted to recommend that nominations for four properties in Ohio be forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places for her consideration.

One of the four properties is located within the City of Cleveland Heights and would become the tenth National Register Historic District in the city.

Shaker Farm Historic District, roughly bounded by properties along Fairmount and North Park Blvds. to the south, Fairfax Road to the north, Roxboro Middle School to the west and Ashton Road to the east.

A residential development platted in 1904 on the south side of Cleveland Heights, Shaker Farm occupies 266 acres owned from 1822-1889 by the North Union Shaker Colony. The developer, Shaker Heights Land Company, had limited success selling home sites there until O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen took over marketing and sales in 1905. While deed restrictions governing the development were already in place, the Van Sweringens embraced them, promising buyers a carefully planned community. House plans had to be approved before construction. Attached houses, row houses and commercial buildings were prohibited, as were billboards and “other unsightly nuisances.” Only one home was allowed per lot and deeds required setbacks of 60 to 100 feet, with ample space between houses. Homes on Fairmount Boulevard required a $7,000 investment, those on Stratford $6,000, and those on Guilford, Islington (later Arlington), Monmouth and Fairfax $5,000. Tree-lined streets followed the lay of the land rather than a more conventional grid plan and led to a wide central boulevard. Generous provision for churches, schools and other amenities -- including streetcar service, essential at the time -- completed the formula. The first house was built in 1906. About two-thirds date from 1910 to 1919 and nearly all were built before 1929. Architecturally, the development features a range of styles popular a century ago, including Shingle, Colonial, Neoclassical, Tudor Revival, Spanish Revival, French Renaissance Revival, Bungalow and Craftsman, with many examples of work by leading early 20th century Cleveland architects. With some refinements, Shaker Farm became a model for the Van Sweringens' later development, Shaker Heights. The proposed Shaker Farm Historic District includes a portion of the Fairmount Boulevard Historic District, listed on the National Register in 1974.

The other properties are:

  • Mount Vernon Historic District in Knox County 
  • South Newbury Union Chapel, 15829 Ravenna Road, in Geauga County
  • St. John's Episcopal Church, 323 Wick Ave., Youngstown, in Mahoning County

The board’s recommendations were made on Friday, Nov. 4, during a meeting held at the State Library of Ohio in Columbus. As a result, nominations for each of the properties will be forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register, who directs the program for the U.S. Department of the Interior. If the Keeper agrees that the properties meet the criteria for listing, they will be added to the National Register of Historic Places. A decision from the Keeper is expected in about 90 days.

The National Register lists places that should be preserved because of their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. It includes buildings, sites, structures, objects, and historic districts of national, state, and local importance.

To be eligible for listing on the National Register a property or district must:

  • be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history, or
  • be associated with the lives of people significant in our past, or
  • embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant, distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction (e.g. a historic district), or
  • have yielded, or be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

National Register listing often raises community awareness of a property. However, listing does not obligate owners to repair or improve their properties and does not prevent them from remodeling, altering, selling, or even demolishing them if they choose to do so.

Owners or long-term tenants who rehabilitate income-producing properties listed on the National Register can qualify for a 20 percent federal income tax credit if the work they do follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, guidelines used nationwide for repairs and alterations to historic buildings.

In Ohio anyone may prepare a National Register nomination. Nominations are made through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society. Proposed nominations are reviewed by the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board, a governor-appointed panel of citizens and professionals in history, architecture, archaeology, and related fields. The board reviews each nomination to see whether it appears to be eligible for listing on the National Register, then makes a recommendation to the State Historic Preservation Officer. The final decision to add a property to the register is made by the National Park Service, which administers the program nationwide.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Office is Ohio’s official historic preservation agency. A part of the Ohio Historical Society, it identifies historic places in Ohio, nominates properties to the National Register of Historic Places, reviews federally-assisted projects for effects on historic, architectural, and archaeological resources in Ohio, consults on the conservation of older buildings and sites, and offers educational programs and publications.

Heights Observer


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Volume 4, Issue 12, Posted 2:42 PM, 11.05.2011