Victorian Houses

So you may have noticed that things have been pretty quiet here on the blog lately. Recently my husband and I decided to do what we have thought about doing for ages–moving into a smaller house. The month of March is the single busiest month of the year at the day job, which of course means it was also the month full of home repairs, cleaning, painting, and packing  all our crap clutter so we can sell our house.  I had high hopes for April, but it wasn’t much less chaotic.

I live in a Georgian Colonial style house built between 1916 and 1920 (we found a 1916 newspaper stuffed in the door jamb), which has a center hall and is, for the most part, symmetrical on either side. It features ornate crown molding which was all cut by hand on site, and nine foot ceilings. We love the house, but it’s far too big for us, so we are searching for something smaller. Which has not, of course, stopped me from looking at all kinds of houses no matter how big they are. It’s probably no surprise that I love Victorian era houses, with their nooks and crannies and gorgeous wood trim. Cleveland had a building boom in the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras, so fortunately for me, most of the housing stock in the suburb where I live dates from this period.

London Bridge, 1859. Image scan by Philip V. Allingham.

So with old houses in mind, I started wondering what house hunting and moving was like for the Victorians. (Doesn’t everyone?)  The population of England grew from 9 million people in 1801 to 36 million in 1911, which meant lots of new houses were built in the same period–6.5 million of them. With the easier transportation and the growth of the middle class that characterized the Victorian era, many of these homes were on the outskirts of cities, allowing families to move away from the overcrowded chaos that was London, into the clean air of the suburbs.

Many of these homes were terraces–what we call townhouses in the U.S.–rows of uniform connected smaller homes. In middle-class neighborhoods, these homes were well-built, with interesting architectural features.

In lower income areas, many of the rows were built back to back, with access only through a front door. These areas saw the erection of many apartment buildings as well, often cheaply built with little regard for safety or comfort.

Wealthy families built much larger homes with greater variety. In the U.S., Victorian houses included the Queen Anne style, with towers and turrets (in San Francisco this style of home was painted in many different colors, and became known as a Painted Lady); Italianate style, reminiscent of an Italian villa; Gothic Revival, with medieval features; and Octagon houses.

Take a look at this site for pictures and more information on these and other Victorian houses.


I could go on forever, but I suppose I ought to get back to work. What’s your favorite style of house?





Author Interview: AE Jones

Today I am honored to welcome NEORWA chapter sister, 2013 Golden Heart winner, and two-time 2015 RITA Finalist AE Jones. Thanks so much for visiting, AE!

Tell us a bit about you. Where do you live, and how long have you been writing?

AE JonesThanks for having me here today, Marin! I live in Northeast Ohio in a small town. I have been reading since I was able to hold a book in my hands and I have been writing since my twenties. I got serious about writing paranormal romances and urban fantasies about six years ago.

What inspired you to write your Mind Sweeper series?

Believe it or not, my Mind Sweeper series stemmed from a joke. I wanted to write about a woman who worked with supernatural and I flippantly thought to myself one day “An angel, a demon, and a vampire walked into a bar…ha, ha, ha.” But what if it wasn’t a joke? What if it really happened? How would someone deal with the aftermath? That is the first line of Mind Sweeper and that’s how my series came to be.

The humor and sarcasm interwoven in the stories are because I love, love, love the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel universe that Joss Whedon created. To me humor makes the sad and scary parts of the story that much more. It’s a great foil.

That is the best first line. I love the Buffy universe too–I’ve been binge watching Buffy and Angel on Netflix, since I never watched it when it originally aired. 

What does your writing process look like?

I am a total pantser. Which can be difficult because I write mysteries in my stories and so there are plot threads that need to be tied up. I do normally have a general idea of the ending, but then as I write the story I’ll have these ‘OMG’ moments where something will come to me and it goes into the story. I also write my chapters out of order too. When a scene comes to me I have to write it down even if it’s at the back of the book.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Sleep. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. I have a day job and then I have my writing job in the evenings. When I’m in relaxation mode I’ll usually read or go out to dinner with friends. And a special treat for me is taking a nap (and now I’ve gone full circle back to the beginning of this answer).

What are you working on now?

I am currently in edits for Sentinel Lost, the fifth book in my Mind Sweeper series. That novel should be coming out in September and I am also working on the first book of a new series that should come out late fall.

Great! I know I am looking forward to new books from you. 🙂

I tend to work through story ideas when I’m driving or in the shower, both of which are, of course, places I can’t write anything down. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I do a lot of ‘book thinking’ in the shower too! I’ve had to put a notebook by my bed since I have a tendency to come up with things as I drift to sleep or am just waking up in the morning. I think it’s because my subconscious is free to roam! I also walk two miles every day and I think through my plot and ideas when I’m walking too. Although I sometimes have to stop and type an idea in my phone so I don’t lose it!

Share a photo of your writing space.


Here is a picture of my office and yes, more often than not Dillon, my cat, is perched right next to my laptop. I have to stop and pet him periodically or he moves in front of the keyboard. And that is a magic wand hanging on the wall and a tiara sitting on my lamp. The magic wand is because I need all the help I can get and the tiara I wear on release days for my books. I call release days my ‘kick butt princess’ days. I usually will post a tiara picture on my blog as part of the celebration too!

LOL. Dillon looks very serious.

How do you come up with character names?

This is a hard one for me. Character names can be tricky. Oftentimes I’ll name a character and then as he or she develops I realize that the name I chose for them is not right. And since my series has somewhat of a supernatural UN vibe, I have to look for Russian names and French names and Irish names, etc. I spend a lot of time on the internet on baby name sites!

In one of my books I changed the hero’s name three times and the heroine’s name twice. Thank goodness for the find and replace feature!

novellas 3d boxset copyThe Mind Sweeper Novellas (Box Set)

Discover the Mind Sweeper series through the eyes of Jean Luc and Talia in these two novellas.

The Fledgling – A Novella

Vampire Jean Luc Delacroix has been alive for nearly four hundred years. Alive, but not really living. This changes when he meets newly turned vampire, Talia. Feisty and beautiful, Talia is the first female Jean Luc has been attracted to in centuries. But when he finds out she is also a bounty hunter who is interfering with his investigation of a supernatural serial killer, he pushes her away for her and his own good.

Bitten and thrust into the supernatural world against her will, Talia wants nothing more than to do her job. She doesn’t have time to deal with an overbearing, ridiculously sexy vampire. But Jean Luc and Talia butt heads on their single-minded crusade to stop a murderer. And unless they can set aside their troubled pasts and learn to trust each other, they may never have an opportunity to explore their true feelings. Especially when they face off with the killer.

The Pursuit – A Novella

Thirty years after their initial meeting, Jean Luc Delacroix and Talia Walker once again cross paths. After seeing Talia again, Jean Luc’s feelings reignite. This time he will do whatever it takes to make her a permanent part of his life. Talia learned everything she knows about love—and about being a vampire—from Jean Luc. And when she comes face to face with Jean Luc again, she wonders if her continued independence is as important as being with the vampire she still loves.

Before either can acknowledge their feelings, they are embroiled in a deadly case of a vampire draining humans. In the midst of an investigation that threatens the very foundation of the vampire nation, can Jean Luc and Talia finally find the courage to follow their hearts? Or will the killer destroy them first?

EXCERPT: Jean Luc is teaching Talia how to be a vampire. In this excerpt, they are just starting to explore but yet fight their attraction to each other. I like it because it is an interesting interplay of tension with a splash of humor.

It had been seven days since the killer last struck. Seven days of little to no headway. Seven days of spending every moment with Talia and her lavender essence, rich skin, and chocolate eyes. Jean Luc stared at her until she turned toward him, her eyes widening under his heated scrutiny.

After a moment, her mouth quirked and she took a step closer to him. “Can I help you with something?”

“Yes. Tell me how you would fight someone much larger than yourself.”

“I would avoid it.”

“And if you cannot?” he pushed.

“Carry a big gun?”

Buy the Mind Sweeper novella box set here: 

You can find out more about AE Jones here:
Twitter: @aejonesauthor



The other day as I was driving around town with the kid, he asked what people did before there were traffic lights. I replied that policemen helped to direct traffic, but honestly, I was just guessing. That got me thinking: when were traffic lights invented, and when and where were they first used?

Truly, I was delighted with the answer, and if you regularly read this blog, you will understand why.

The very first traffic light was invented in 1868 by John Peake Knight, a superintendent of the South-Eastern Railway. Streets in larger English cities, primarily London, had become terribly congested by the 1860s. As trains became the primary vehicles for transport of goods and people across the country, carriages were increasingly used to get both goods and people to and from the trains. As the English middle class and its wealth grew, more people bought their own carriages, putting more of them on the street.

Poster issued by Metropolitan Police, 1868.

The signal invented by Knight closely resembled a railway signal; a pillar with a light on the top, and semaphore arms, operated by a policeman. It was erected in December 1868 near the House of Commons, at the intersection of Great George and Bridge Streets in Westminster. Unfortunately, just three weeks after it was installed, a gas leak caused it to explode, severely injuring its operator. The light was declared a safety hazard and removed, and London didn’t see another traffic light until the 1920s.

Cleveland, Ohio, 1914.
Source: The Motorist

US Patent 1,951,666, Inventor J.B. Hoge.

Traffic lights as we know them today were invented in the U.S. The first electric traffic signal was erected in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, at the intersection of Euclid Avenue (of course) and East 105th Street. The signal consisted of eight lights, four red and four green; red, of course, meant “stop,” and green meant “proceed.” Each pair of lights was mounted on a corner post, and operated manually.

US Patent 1,475,024, Inventor Garrett Morgan

But it was Garrett Morgan who patented the design that was the precursor to the traffic signal we use today. He was born in Kentucky and eventually moved to Cleveland, where he and his brother saved a number of workers in a tunnel collapse under Lake Erie, using a gas mask of his own invention. The first African-American man to own a car in Cleveland, he developed and patented the first three-way traffic signal in 1923. He eventually sold the rights to General Electric for $40,000. Just before his death in 1963, he was honored by the U.S. government for his invention, and recognized for his role as a hero in the Lake Erie disaster. He is buried in Lake View Cemetery.

The Victorianist: The Disastrous Debut of the World’s First Traffic Lights
This Day in History: August 5
The Guardian: Nooks and Crannies

P.S. This being the first Father’s Day since my dad passed away in January, I didn’t have the heart to do a post on Father’s Day. But if you’re interested, I found a fascinating post on the history of the day at Father’s Day, it says, was slow to catch on. “As one historian writes, they ‘scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.'”

Happy Father’s Day, everyone. May you be able to spend it with someone you love.

Western Reserve School of Design for Women

It’s been interesting to me lately how often I get inspired by presentations to the DAR. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since for the last two years I have been in charge of selecting the speakers, but whatever. In our most recent meeting, the speaker was discussing the history of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The CIA began in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women (WRSDW).

Old City Hall, built in 1875. Source: Cleveland Memory Project.

It was founded by Sarah Kimball, reportedly known as “Cleveland’s first militant suffragette,” in her own house on Euclid Avenue, intended to train women for a career in design–there was, after all, a shortage of marriageable men after the Civil War, and women had to do something to support themselves. The school was founded to teach “the principles of art and design as practically applied to artistic and industrial pursuits, and also the collection and exhibition of works of art and virtu.” (You can see a copy of the original Articles of Incorporation here.) In just six weeks, the school had outgrown Kimball’s house and moved to the attic of City Hall. Within one year, the school had grown to five instructors and 77 students.

Horace Kelley Mansion. Source: Cleveland Memory Project.

The school was co-ed from its inception, but the name kept its focus on women until 1892. It was renamed the Cleveland School of Art and moved into the Horace Kelley Mansion on Willson Avenue, now known as East 55th Street. Efforts to merge the school with Adelbert College, now part of Case Western Reserve University, were unsuccessful, and the school remains independent to this day.

Cleveland School of Art. Source: Cleveland Memory Project.

The School of Art remained in the Kelley Mansion until roughly 1906, when a new building was constructed in University Circle. In 1949, the school was renamed the Cleveland Institute of Art, and in 1956 moved around the corner into the more modern, and far less pretty, building in which it is still housed today.

In 2015, the Cleveland Institute of Art will move back onto Euclid Avenue into the former Model T Assembly plant that CIA acquired in 1981, and which now houses the Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts.

Clara Wolcott Driscoll, c.1904-05.
Source: Morse Museum of American Art.

One of the WRSDW’s most notable alumna was Clara Wolcott Driscoll. Born in Tallmadge, Ohio, in 1861, Clara was a graduate of one of WRSDW’s first classes. In 1888, she moved to New York and found a job with the Tiffany Glass Company. Although she resigned in 1889 when she married Francis Driscoll–Tiffany did not employ married women–she returned to the company in 1892 when her husband died. She oversaw a small Women’s Glass Cutting Department. Tiffany was a proponent of women in his industry, because, Tiffany noted in 1894, women “were better suited than men for small hand work and possessed ‘natural decorative taste’ and ‘keen perception of color.’”

But in addition to glass cutting, Clara was a designer as well. In 2005, many of her letters came to light, revealing the fact that Tiffany did not design many of the lamps for which he was famous; Clara did.

Tiffany Studios Dragonfly Table Lamp, c. 1900-06.
New York Historical Society

Sources for more information on the Cleveland Institute of Art and Clara Driscoll

“Cleveland Institute of Art,” Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
Cleveland Institute of Art website,
Designing Women in the Cleveland School of Art,” Marianne Berger Woods
“Breaking Tiffany’s Glass Ceiling: Clara Wolcott Driscoll (1861-1944),” CIA website, January 1, 2012
“Out of Tiffany’s Shadow, a Woman of Light,” New York Times, February 25, 2007
“A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls,” New York Historical Society traveling exhibit
“Tiffany Studio Designers,” Morse Museum of American Art exhibit
Website of Susan Vreeland, author of Clara and Mr. Tiffany (2012), 

The Ohio City Bridge War

After my last Cleveland post, a friend asked if I would write something about the Ohio City War. “The what?” I thought I knew my hometown pretty well, but it turns out I knew squat.

The origins of the “Bridge War” lie in Cleveland’s inherent schizophrenia. There are two sides of the city: west of the Cuyahoga River, and east of the river. The Cuyahoga is that squiggly blue line running through the center of the city in the map below.

Cleveland, OH, 1910. Source: US Digital Maps Library.

I am actually one of those relatively rare beings who have lived on both sides, but most of my life has been spent on the east. We sometimes joke that you need a passport to go from one to the other.

After Cleveland was founded in 1796, the west side was populated by captains of industry, and most of Cleveland’s factories are on that side of the river. The east side came to be inhabited primarily by lawyers, bankers, executives, and the like. Although the east side had its “Millionaires’ Row” in Euclid Avenue, the west side had Franklin Avenue, which had its own grand houses, some of which still exist today (including Franklin Castle, which is rumored to be haunted, but I’ll leave that as a teaser for another post). As the city grew and prospered, the east side far outstripped the west in terms of wealth and development.

Because the west side was separated from the east by the river, and the ferries that had moved people from side to side were inconvenient, a bridge was built to connect the two halves of town. The near west side was an incorporated municipality in its own right, known as Ohio City. 

One of Cleveland’s first bridges was a floating bridge off of Center Street which connected Cleveland with what became Ohio City, and was jointly owned and maintained by the two municipalities. It was made of large whitewood logs chained together. When a ship wanted to pass, a section of the bridge was floated to one side and then drawn back into place by ropes. The bridge was carried away by flood a number of times, each time replaced by something they thought might be a little better. 

In the spring of 1836, an group of east side developers constructed a bridge south of the floating bridge on Columbus Street.

Columbus Street Bridge, c1836. Source: Cleveland Historical Society.

The new Columbus Street Bridge provided a direct route to Cleveland from the Medina and Wooster turnpike (now known as Pearl Road) and bypassed Ohio City’s main commercial thoroughfare. It was a covered bridge with a draw at the center allowing ships to pass. Ohio City residents, justifiably fearing that the new bridge would divert commercial traffic, were incensed. In retaliation, they boycotted the bridge. Unimpressed, Cleveland quietly removed its half of the floating bridge in the middle of the night. 

Ohio City then made a number of attempts to destroy the bridge, including an ineffective explosion. Either in late 1836 or 1837–I am not sure which historical account is accurate–a mob of Ohio City residents marched to the Columbus Street Bridge with guns, crowbars, axes, and other weapons, intending to finish the job. They were met by Cleveland’s mayor and armed Cleveland militiamen. In the ensuing fight, three men were seriously wounded, and a number of arrests were made. In the end, the courts wisely decided that Cleveland needed more than one bridge. Cleveland restored its half of the Center Street Bridge, and Ohio City stopped trying to blow up the Columbus Street Bridge.

Columbus Street Bridge, c1986. Source: Cleveland Memory Project.  

The original wooden Columbus Street bridge was replaced by a steel span in 1870, then by a double swing bridge, and finally by a lift bridge in 1940. The 1940 bridge is currently closed and is being restored. Ironically, it is now a popular route between Cleveland and Ohio City.

Center Street swing bridge. Source:

The many incarnations of the Center Street Bridge were finally replaced by a steel swing bridge in 1900, which remains in use today.

Ohio City was annexed by Cleveland in 1854, and is now home to Cleveland’s historic West Side Market and some of the best restaurants in town.

There are a number of great resources on Cleveland’s bridges, among them: 
Bridges of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County (1918), available on Google Books. 
The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
The Cleveland Memory Project, in particular
The Cleveland Historical Society, which also has an awesome free app that puts Cleveland history at your fingertips as you travel around town. 

The Queen of Ohio

As promised last time, today I will delve into the life of one of North America’s most notorious conwomen, Cassie Chadwick.

Cassie L. Chadwick. Source: Wikipedia.

There is quite a bit of confusion concerning the events in Cassie’s life–I read no fewer than four different accounts in the space of an hour last night–so I’ll just present the ones I like best, with cavalier disregard for their veracity.

Born Elizabeth Bigley in October 1857 (or so) in  Canada, young Betsy reportedly executed her first fraud scheme at the age of 13, passing a number of bad checks based on a fictitious inheritance from an equally imaginary uncle. She was arrested, but released due to her age and told to behave herself.

She didn’t listen.

When Betsy was 18 she first used the scam that would become infamous in just a few decades. She bought fancy stationery, imprinted it with the name of a prominent Ontario attorney, and wrote a letter to herself notifying her of a $15,000 bequest by a philanthropist. Then she printed calling cards which read simply, “Miss Bigley. Heiress to $15,000.”  This scam worked for awhile, allowing her to buy clothing and other goods and set herself up as an heiress in a London, Ontario hotel for just a bit too long. She was arrested again, but her youthful appearance allowed her to act the role of the contrite child, and she got away with it once again. A third scam resulted in her arrest and trial, where she again played the child to great effect; the judge ruled her temporarily insane and released her into  the custody of her parents. Her parents, quite done with her, sent her to Cleveland, Ohio with her newly married sister in or about 1875. 

In Cleveland, she borrowed money using her sister’s furnishings as collateral (and did the same in a succession of boardinghouses she lived in, leaving a trail of debt behind her). Then she set up shop as a clairvoyant, Madame Lydia DeVere. She turned her attentions to romance, soon seducing a local physician named Wallace Springsteen. They married on November 21, 1882, and he was prominent enough in the community that their picture was printed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The story was read by a number of Madame’s creditors, as well as Betsy’s sister, who all showed up at the newlyweds’ home demanding to be paid. Dr. Springsteen, realizing that his new bride was a liar and a thief, divorced her immediately. 

After a divorce in which she managed to fleece a number of lawyers and nearly bankrupt the good doctor, Mrs. Lydia Springsteen disappeared. Cassie resumed her role as clairvoyant, this time under the name of Madame Marie LaRose. She seduced another swain, a Trumbull County farmer named John Scott, and for four years after their marriage there are no accounts of check fraud, forgery, or other misdeeds, until she claimed she committed adultery and filed for divorce. A prenup she had insisted on signing before she married ensured that this time she walked away with none of her husband’s property. 

Following this, she gave birth to a son, lived as a British heiress in Toledo, and seduced yet another unwitting dupe, who cashed $40,000 worth of fraudulent checks for her. In 1889, Cassie was arrested again, and this time she was sentenced to 9-1/2 years in prison. 

Unrepentant, in jail she launched a letter-writing campaign to the parole board seeking her early release from prison, which was granted by Governor William McKinley after she had served only three and a half years. 

She returned to Cleveland in 1891 as Cassie L. Hoover, posing as a respectable, conservative widow. Apparently unsatisfied with the income of a clairvoyant, however, she turned to prostitution instead. She opened a brothel, and supplemented her take of the proceeds by blackmailing her patrons. 

Dr. Leroy Chadwick, a wealthy young physician with a home on Euclid Avenue, visited the brothel after the death of his wife. 

Cassie Chadwick’s Euclid Avenue home, c. pre-1906. Source: Wikipedia.

I haven’t found a satisfactory account of their meeting, but the story goes that he met Cassie there. She claimed she had thought it was a boardinghouse when she bought the brothel, and swooned dead away in his arms when she realized her mistake. He was completely taken in by this performance, which strains credulity to such a degree I can’t believe that the story is true. In any case, they married in 1897. 

And then things really got interesting for Mrs. Chadwick. On a visit to New York City, Cassie convinced one of her husband’s associates, a Cleveland lawyer named Dillon, to take her to the home of Andrew Carnegie. He stayed outside while Cassie went in on a mysterious errand. After grilling the housekeeper for about half an hour on some pretext, she left the home with a promissory note for $2 million, apparently signed by Andrew Carnegie. He was, Cassie told Dillon when he discovered the note she had “accidentally” dropped in front of his nose, wracked with guilt over being informed she was his illegitimate daughter.

Andrew Carnegie, c. 1878. Source: Wikipedia.

Cassie lived large on this when she returned to Cleveland, and was dubbed “The Queen of Ohio.” No one wanted to embarrass the illustrious Carnegie by mentioning his illegitimate daughter, especially since he was not the type to have one. Cassie used his name and the promise of an inheritance upon Carnegie’s death to forge bank notes of between $10 and $20 million over the next eight years. 

One of the banks she defrauded was associated with my alma mater, Oberlin College.  She borrowed $240,000 from the Citizens National Bank of Oberlin, four times the bank’s actual capital. The resulting loss caused a run on the bank and it failed, bankrupting many Oberlin students and organizations. 

In 1904, her luck ran out. A Boston banker sought repayment of a loan of $190,800. When Cassie refused to pay, he went to the police and filed suit. Cassie was arrested (reportedly while wearing a money belt containing $100,000) and stood trial  in federal court in Cleveland. On 10 Mar. 1905, Cassie Chadwick was convicted on 7 counts of conspiracy against the government and conspiracy to wreck the Citizens National Bank of Oberlin. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison and fined $70,000. She died in prison on her 50th(or 48th) birthday, October 10, 1907. She is buried in Woodstock, Ontario.

Andrew Carnegie, who attended the trial,  is reported to have said that the whole thing could have been avoided if anyone had bothered to ask him. He was also so sorry that Oberlin College had been harmed by the scheme that indirectly involved him that he donated $125,000 for a new College library.   

Carnegie Library, Oberlin, Ohio. Source: Oberlin College Archives

Cleveland Curiosities: Eliot Ness & His Blundering Raid, a Busker’s Promise, Ted Schwartz, 2010.
* “Cassie Chadwick,” The Biography Channel website, (accessed Mar 09, 2014).
* “Chadwick, Cassie L.,” The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (
* “Chadwick Paper out is Over $19,000,000,” The New York Times, December 11, 1904. 

Cleveland in the Gilded Age: A Stroll Down Millionaires’ Row, Dan Ruminski and Alan Dutka, 2012. 

Visiting my Hometown

This week I am starting a departure from all things English (gasp) to spend some time closer to home.

I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I was born here, and have spent well over half my life here. Living in “the Mistake on the Lake,” especially during the 1970s , gave one a bit of an inferiority complex. We had a river that actually caught fire. We had the “boy mayor” whose municipal mismanagement made us the laughing stock of the world–I remember visiting Canada when I was a kid, and the waiter in a Chinese restaurant said, “Ah, you’re from Cleveland. Don’t you have that crazy mayor?”

Growing up, I had been vaguely aware of the city’s history–the landscape is dotted with gorgeous old buildings in varying stages of decay, and my own high school was built in 1926, so it was hard to be completely oblivious–but I never gave it much thought.

Cleveland Heights High School, c1930, from The Cleveland Memory Project

In recent months, however, I’ve been doing some exploring of my fair city’s background, and it is a little bit amazing.

Charles Brush mansion, built in 1884, from The Cleveland Memory Project

In 1885,  half the world’s millionaires lived in Cleveland, most of them on one street–Euclid Avenue, once famously known as “Millionaires’ Row.”

These millionaires included John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil Company; Samuel Mather, who with his daughters and their husbands founded many Cleveland institutions, including Trinity Cathedral and University Hospitals; Francis Drury, who founded the Cleveland Playhouse; Isaac N. Pennock I, inventor of the first steel railway car in the US; arc light inventor Charles F. Brush; Amasa Stone, one of the founders of what is now Case Western Reserve University; John Hay, who served as personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State under William McKinley; Jeptha Wade, founder of Western Union Telegraph, any many others.

Euclid Avenue postcard, from The Cleveland Memory Project

Euclid Avenue was described in the 1893 edition of Baedeker’s Travel Guide as “one of the most beautiful residence-streets in America.” Incredibly hard to believe now, as the vast majority of these beautiful homes were demolished, and the magnificent trees lining the street were devastated by Dutch Elm Disease.

Euclid Avenue, c. 1905, from The Cleveland Memory Project

Eventually the millionaires moved out to the country, which became Cleveland’s suburbs, went broke, or left Cleveland entirely, and their homes were demolished. But for awhile, Cleveland was truly a magnificent place.

In future posts I’ll touch on some of the stories from Cleveland’s heyday, including the one of the woman who tried to swindle Andrew Carnegie. In the meantime, if you’re so inclined, take a look at the website of the Cleveland Memory Project, which has all the photos I posted today and thousands more. Also consider visiting the site of Dan Ruminski, whose wonderful presentation I attended a couple of months ago sparked my interest.

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