Mayfield Heights becomes 12th national historic district in Cleveland Heights

M.M. Brown, the developer of Mayfield Heights, built this house for his family on Euclid Heights Boulevard in 1898.

On Sept. 17, the National Park Service added the Mayfield Heights Historic District in Cleveland Heights as one of the newest historic resources listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Not to be confused with the suburb of the same name farther east, this much older Mayfield Heights covers an irregular area mostly bounded by Mayfield Road on the north, Euclid Heights Boulevard on the south, Cumberland Park on the east, and Coventry Road on the west. It includes a wide range of architectural styles, notably Queen Anne, Neoclassical, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Revival, Craftsman and Prairie.

Mayfield Heights is the 12th National Register district in Cleveland Heights, which has more such districts than any other city in Ohio, outside of Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton. Mayfield Heights has 324 major buildings, comprising mostly single-family houses, but also a number of two-family houses and apartment buildings. Other resources included in the district are the Cleveland Heights Tennis Club, the city’s oldest church (Christ Our Redeemer A.M.E. Church), its oldest school (Superior Schoolhouse), and its oldest home (the Preyer House).

Much of the land that became Mayfield Heights was the site of John Peter Preyer’s Lake View Wine Farm from the 1860s to the 1890s. Preyer’s stone house, the oldest in Cleveland Heights, was already about 40 years old when the Preyers bought it. In the 1890s, Marcus M. Brown purchased the Preyer farm and some adjacent parcels. Brown moved from Chicago in 1896 to a house he built for himself on the bluff overlooking Mayfield Road just east of Coventry Road. He laid out the Mayfield Heights allotment on his newly acquired land, and soon built a much larger Queen Anne-style house for his family at the corner of Euclid Heights Boulevard and Wilton Road.

Marcus M. Brown (1855–1909)—or M.M. Brown, as he was popularly known—was a real estate attorney, developer, philanthropist and noted lecturer on the Chautauqua and Shubert circuits. Brown marketed Mayfield Heights as a healthy and enlightened place to live. He noted that its high elevation, wholesome air and beautiful landscape were all within 30 minutes of Public Square via the best streetcar line in the city, which traveled by the stately mansions on Euclid Avenue and the spacious and well-kept grounds and elegant homes on Euclid Heights Boulevard.   

Originally, the streets in Mayfield Heights were all paved with brick. Today, only two of these brick streets remain: Middlehurst and Radnor roads.

Brown marketed the allotment himself through his Mayfield Heights Realty Company. The Panic of 1907, a national economic crisis, crushed the local real estate market, and Brown, who already owed a considerable amount of money to creditors, had to forfeit Mayfield Heights. After 1908, the City and Suburban Realty Company, a subsidiary of The Cleveland Trust Company, sold the remaining 200-plus lots. City and Suburban marketed the neighborhood as “Mayfield Heights - Country Life in Cleveland." Brown died the following year. While he never got to see his dream fulfilled, Cleveland Trust ultimately completed most of the district’s homes by 1914.

To many, the name Mayfield Heights may be a surprise, just as the Forest Hill neighborhood developed by Grant Deming to the south is easily confused with John D. Rockefeller’s later allotment of the same name. For decades, the neighborhood’s proximity to the Coventry Village Business District and Coventry School led many residents to refer to it as Coventry Village. The National Register strongly favors using original names when designating historic districts. Regardless of name, the federal designation calls attention to the historical importance of the neighborhood and provides one more source of pride and identity.

Mark Souther and Charles Owen

Mark Souther is a history professor and member of the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission. Charles Owen is an independent historian and founder of the Cleveland Heights Historical Society. He and his wife, Dumont, reside in Mayfield Heights in a home built by The Cleveland Trust Company in 1913. Souther and Owen wrote the application nominating the Mayfield Heights Historic District.

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Volume 8, Issue 11, Posted 11:12 AM, 10.12.2015