UH historic? U bet!
“I don’t know that we would consider University Heights historic,” says Walter Stinson, community coordinator for the City of University Heights. But, according to a study conducted by the Cuyahoga County Department of Development and released to the city in the fall of 2007, 2,261 homes in the western section of the city “represent one of the largest collections of early 20th century middle class homes in the suburban Cuyahoga County” and may be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Currently the city has no properties listed in the National Register and does not have a local landmark program.
Originally part of Warrensville Township, the City of University Heights was incorporated as Idlewood Village in 1908. The city adopted its current name in 1925 shortly after John Carroll University purchased land within its boundaries and announced plans to move. It became a city in 1940.
According to the Urban County report, the section of University Heights west of Warrensville Center Road contains sixteen separate, but interconnected, subdivisions that were developed beginning in the late 1910s and continuing until the 1940s and ‘50s. More than two-thirds of the lots in the potential district were developed by the Rapid Transit Land Company, an organization controlled by Mantis and Orris Van Sweringen and other investors.
The architectural styles in the potential district vary from simple bungalows and foursquares to Colonial and Tudor Revivals. Many of the homes feature decorative brickwork and stonework, cornices and prominent chimneys and rooflines. The high quality design and building materials distinguish the homes from many other middle class homes built during Cleveland’s rapid expansion into the suburbs in the early to mid-20th century.
The study was undertaken in order to evaluate areas that are potentially eligible for National Register or local landmark status in compliance with the Federal Government’s Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG). The Cuyahoga County Department of Development administers CDBG funding for 50 cities within Cuyahoga County that do not administer their own CDBG programs. For more information, visit http://development.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/urban-county-communities.aspx.
Bremer Fisher is executive director of FutureHeights and co-authored the Euclid Golf historic district nomination in 2002.