In what has become a regular part of Cleveland’s welcoming of spring, on Saturday, April 26, Lee University’s Department of History will present the 8th Annual Tour of Historic Homes on Centenary Avenue, Harle Avenue and Oak Street near downtown Cleveland.
For the past seven years, the faculty and students of Lee University have presented the tour as part of the Rediscovering Historic Cleveland initiative.
The tours will introduce the families who first lived in the homes, bring to life the historical setting in which the homes were built, and help explain the architecture and design of the houses.
In its first eight years, the homes tour has featured over two dozen of Cleveland’s finest historic homes and public buildings. This year’s tour includes:
o The Bennett Home (1133 Harle).
Built in 1914, this fine example of Four Square architecture has many original features and has been lovingly restored by Joe and Cathy Burton.
The Burtons follow the Hardwicks and the original owner J.M. Bennett as only the third owners of the home that is sited to view the length of Centenary Avenue.
o The Mills Home (1333 Harle).
Jonathon and Jennifer Cornett’s Cottage Style home retains much of its original character, including floors, trim work, and fireplaces. Visitors will be able to see the original blueprints of the home that H.M. Mills had constructed in 1929.
o The Donaldson Home (920 Oak).
Just after he married, William Donaldson and his wife, Evelyn, moved into the house that would be their home for the next three decades. The 1929 house closely resembles (and may be an example of) one of several styles of kit, or catalogue, houses that were popular between 1900 and 1940.
o The Wrinkle Home (463 Centenary).
Built in 1912 by Minless Wrinkle, this Arts and Crafts bungalow is an outstanding example of its type. Long the resident of his daughters, Mamie and Verna (who taught at Arnold Elementary), the home has been extensively restored by its current owners, Bill and Sherry Johnson.
The tours will be conducted by Lee University history students completing their senior year “capstone” experience, which includes a public history project (the annual spring house tour and, in the fall, the Fort Hill Cemetery Tour).
Dr. John Coats, a professor at Lee University and the faculty sponsor, said, “Cleveland has a wonderful, rich history, and we are excited about bringing that history alive to the public — of course, all this would not be possible without the support of the homeowners who have cared for the homes and have generously shared them with us all.”
Students conduct interviews, research architecture and design, work on publicity and provide commentary on the homes.
Savannah Parrish, a senior history major who is researching the Bennett home, said that “having the opportunity to explore Cleveland’s rich local history while participating in this house tour has been one of my favorite experiences since coming to Lee. As I prepare for graduation, I’m excited by the prospect of so many Cleveland residents coming to the house tour and participating in their very own local history. It is my hope that this will spark a desire in the community to take part in uncovering Cleveland’s history.”
Tour-goers will learn about what life in Cleveland would have been like around the time of each dwelling’s construction. They will also observe examples of architecture from different time periods and the extent to which parts of the homes have been restored, preserved and modernized.
Ticket sales begin on April 26 at 9 a.m. at the Donaldson house at 920 Oak — sales end at 1 p.m. The homes will be open for tours until 2 p.m. The $5 admission to the tour will support the William Snell History Scholarship at Lee University.