Saturday, August 22, 2009

In search of the elusive inner-city Greek Revival house

Dunham Tavern Museum

I've always had a thing for Greek Revival houses. Their lines and proportions seem so right. For a while I've thought it would be interesting to have an old farmhouse and tiny farm in the inner city. With falling real estate prices, I've decided to look a bit harder to see if I can really find that magical Greek Revival farmhouse.

This is not as a replacement for my current residence, but rather, an additional project. The house would end up as a rental property after I had fixed it up, though I would probably make at least some effort to cultivate the land around it. As a result, I'm somewhat more inclined toward areas where I would be able to find a house with a chunk of land adjacent or nearby - these areas also tend to be cheaper.

My personal interest would be in a smaller house that either had really great lines or retained plenty of original detail. A smaller house would be a more managable project to rehab and maintain.

I've begun to systematically search through the areas where I might expect to find such houses, and will be documenting as I find them, as well as including them in this map. I welcome any additional sites you may be able to identify.

The photograph at the top of the page is of the Dunham Tavern, on Euclid Avenue. The oldest building in Cleveland on its original foundation, it is also probably the best known Greek Revival house in the city.

Sandstone Greek Revival house

I often pass by this c.1835 house on Buckeye Road at East 108th Street. It was made from stone quarried nearby. I hadn't noticed the detail work on it before, but it is really quite nice. Replace the glass block windows and remove the vinylcide, and one would be left with a very nice house.

Greek Revival house on E. 130th Street

I started looking methodically near my neighborhood, hoping to find something interesting. I came across this house on East 130th Street, just north of Kinsman. Kinsman is one of the oldest roads in the area.

Greek Revival house on E. 130th Street

This angle shows the original lines a bit more clearly.

Today, on my lunch break, I found three houses - two solid Greek Revivals and one suspect.

Greek Revival house

This one is hard to see, due to the trees, but I didn't venture further up the driveway to take a photograph, out of respect for the owner. This photograph shows the lines a bit more clearly. The house is located at Located at 1158 Addison Road, Cleveland, Ohio.

Greek Revival house

This house, at 1209 East 71st Street, has really nice lines. The windows, in their original locations, would have looked great. For the purposes of this argument, we're going to assume that they're currently ugly vinyl replacements (I actually have no idea) and that you'd want to replace them, so they might as well be replaced in the original locations. The foundation is locally quarried sandstone, and there's exterior access to the cellar.

Greek Revival house

The addition to the rear, presumably the kitchen, is reasonably harmonious with the rest of the house. The other addition, with the flat roof, should probably be removed.

Greek Revival house

The addition has the same style of sandstone foundation as the rest of the house, suggesting that it wasn't built terribly long after the main part of the house. I'd almost be inclined to think that the space I've been calling an addition might have come first, except that the pitch on the roof is slightly steeper than the rest of the house.

Greek Revival house

The other side of the house looks quite presentable, too. Street presence would be improved by a bit of pruning of the tree in front of it and removal of the porch.

The house is owned by Great Lakes Home Remodelers, Inc., which purchased the property on 13 July 2006 for $4,800 from the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). It is one of five properties that they own, four of which were foreclosures. They are delinquent on taxes on all five of the properties as of today, according to the Cuyahoga County Auditor's website - the balance owed on this property is $2719.32. The auditor states that this house is a duplex. It is 1536 square feet.

At this point, I suspect that the current owners would be happy to get rid of this house, even at a loss. There's enough vacant land nearby to have some serious potential for gardening or a yard.

Greek Revival house?

This house, at 6833 Bayliss Avenue, is the last I will mention today. It's a bit of a puzzler to me. The proportions seem just about right, but there's simply been too much work done on it for me to be sure one way or the other.


Kevin said...

There's also this little house in Old Brooklyn.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Kevin, I'm surprised that I hadn't heard about this house before. I hope that someone gets it.

One thing that sticks out to me about it (and many other of the houses built before the rest of the houses in their neighborhood) is the placement of the house on the lot. The setback is very different from the rest of the houses on the street, as is the direction that the house faces.

Kevin said...

I haven't read anything about it this year, so I hope it's still standing and has found a good owner.

Chris said...

After reading your post I had my eyes peeled ... but on our trip to Cincinnati this past weekend. We took a walk along the river in Covington, Ky and I noticed this place.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Kevin, according to the County Auditor, it's still owned by Mr. Reed, which lends me some hope that it may not have been demolished yet.

Chris, that's a nice one.

Chelsea & Liam said...

Here's the blue house on our street and some photos of our neighborhood. Can you believe this house stands like this on a street like this in the heights and the city doesn't care?

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Chelsea & Liam, I'm sure that the city does care. But, alas, there's a difference between caring and having the laws on the books to do something about it. As much as I might like such a law, it would be very very difficult to write, especially as there are some places within the city where such a color would be appropriate, at least on part of the house. (I'm thinking of some of the Victorian and Queen Anne style houses in the Coventry Village area.)

On the other hand, if all your neighbors are of like mind, they'd probably be pretty lousy witnesses when someone showed up with a spray gun in the middle of the night and painted the house white. Since the trim is white, someone who is handy with a spray gun ought to be able to paint it without masking anything off. It could probably be done in a few hours.

Chelsea & Liam said...

Yeah, I know what you mean...Yeah, I was thinking the blue color just looks really off for this neighborhood anyway. It really just seems terribly out of place. I think people walk their dogs by and the dogs bark at it.

That sounds like a pretty good idea Haha!

If you know anyone handy with a spray gun, (you might have some connections.) send them out the tip.

A reward will be offered!