New historic district would be 11 for Cleveland Heights

Map of the proposed Euclid Heights Historic District.

The Alcazar, located on Derbyshire Road in Cleveland Heights, was the perfect venue for the June 18 presentation on Euclid Heights Historic District’s bid to be added to the National Register of Historic Places.

If approved by the National Park Service, Euclid Heights would become the 11th National Register Historic District in the City of Cleveland Heights.

Like many buildings in the district—which centers on Euclid Heights Boulevard and extends north to Mayfield Road, east to Coventry Road, south to Cedar Road, and west to Overlook Road—the Alcazar is a storied building with distinctive architecture.

Although the building was constructed in the Spanish style, the district is filled with examples of historically significant architectural styles, such as Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival and Italianate. The neighborhood includes homes designed by some of Cleveland’s most famous architects, including Harry E. Weeks and Sigmund Braverman.

The evening’s presenters—Marian Morton, a local historian who wrote the National Register nomination, and Susan Tietz, of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office—explained that it is partially due to this abundance of exemplary architecture that the Ohio Historical Society recommended that the Euclid Heights Historic District be added to the National Register.

Another reason for seeking the recognition, as detailed in the application, is the way in which the district influenced the development of the region.

Businessman Patrick Calhoun first conceived Euclid Heights around the turn of the century, as a neighborhood that would offer a wide range of homes for upper-class buyers.

When Calhoun lost the property to banks some 14 years later, construction strayed from the rigid guidelines he had established, giving way to what Morton described as the “rich mix” of styles and housing types present in the area today.

The eclectic architecture was accompanied by an influx of ethnic diversity to the region, setting a trend for Cleveland Heights in years to come.

Recognition by the National Register of Historic Places primarily serves as a celebration of the area’s uniqueness, explained Morton. "Residents should be excited because the designation as an historic district simply acknowledges that your neighborhood is special, which [they] knew anyway.”

Addition to the Register brings some tangible benefits, including potential tax benefits for income-producing properties.

At the same time, the designation comes with few obligations, as residents would still be free to remodel, alter, sell, or even demolish their homes.

“While it is an honorary designation, our hope is that listing the district would encourage residents to preserve, enhance and reinvest in the neighborhood,” said Chuck Miller, a member of the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission.

Marian Morton is a professor emeritus of history at John Carroll University and has written several books on Cleveland Heights history, including Cleveland Heights: The Making of an Urban Suburb (Arcadia Publishing, 2002), Cleveland Heights (Arcadia Publishing, 2005) and The Overlook of Cleveland and Cleveland Heights (Arcadia Publishing, 2010). This is her first National Register nomination.

James Helmsworth

James Helmsworth is a senior majoring in English at Oberlin College. This is his second summer interning for the Heights Observer.

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Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 12:16 PM, 07.01.2012