Millionaires' Row

Euclid Avenue's "Millionaires' Row" was home to some of the nation's most powerful and influential industrialists, including John D. Rockefeller. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Baedeker's Travel Guide dubbed Euclid Avenue the "Showplace of America" for its beautiful elm-lined sidewalks and ornate mansions situated amid lavish gardens. The concentration of wealth was unparalleled, with accounts at the time comparing it to the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Rufus Dunham was the first to invest in the stretch of Euclid Avenue, purchasing 140 acres of land to open a farm and tavern to service stagecoaches passing through Cleveland. Dunham faced problems, however, as the city did little maintenance and the road would often flood. As other wealthy elites began moving into the area, the city developed a drainage system to prevent flooding and made the area more desirable.

The residents of Millionaires’ Row did not just build homes in Cleveland, but often donated money to charitable organizations and funded the construction of other establishments. Some of these investments went toward the construction of churches, universities, medical schools, the art museum, orchestra, and the historical society. The best-known Euclid Avenue resident was John D. Rockefeller, who started Standard Oil Company. Other notable businessmen who called Euclid Avenue home were Amasa Stone, Marcus Hanna, and Samuel Mather.

In 1910, Cleveland was the sixth largest city in the country. With the increase in population and new developments encroaching, Euclid Avenue experienced a drastic rise in taxes and land costs. These rises were just the first step in the downfall of Millionaires’ Row.

Millionaires' Row gradually shifted eastward as commercialization claimed some of the older homes near downtown. By the 1920s, a suburban exodus to "the Heights" east of the city illustrated that the very prosperity created by the denizens of Euclid Avenue ultimately displaced their grand homes. A number of the luxurious homes were demolished in the 1920s and 1930s to make way for commercial buildings and parking lots. In the 1950s, more homes were destroyed to make way for the Innerbelt Freeway. Today, only a handful of homes still exist, giving us just a glimpse of the splendor that once was considered the wealthiest address in the nation.

Images

Sylvester T. Everett House

Sylvester T. Everett House

The coachman beneath the ornate Romanesque porte-cochere of the elaborate Sylvester T. Everett house. Everett, a prominent financier, was a personal friend of President James A. Garfield, who appointed him government director of the Union Pacific Railroad. Everett also built some of the earliest electric streetcar systems, including those in Akron and Erie, Pennsylvania. The Everett mansion, completed in 1887, was designed by Charles T. Schweinfurth - the local architect responsible for Trinity Cathedral and the Mather Mansion, as well as several bridges throughout Cleveland. | Source: Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society View File Details Page

John D. Rockefeller House

John D. Rockefeller House

The Standard Oil baron's home at Euclid Avenue and Case Avenue (later East 40th Street) cost $40,000 to build in 1868. Seventy years later, it was demolished. | Source: Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery View File Details Page

Brush Windmill, ca. 1890

Brush Windmill, ca. 1890

Charles F. Brush, one of America's great inventors, built this gigantic windmill in the back yard of his Euclid Avenue mansion. The windmill, which was the largest in the world at the time of its construction, was demolished - along with the Brush home - according to the owner's will upon his death in 1929. The Brush mansion sat 160 feet back from Euclid Avenue and consisted of 40,000 square feet of space divided over 3 floors. | Source: Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society View File Details Page

Herrick House

Herrick House

A rare glimpse inside a Millionaires Row mansion, this view of the parlor in the G. E. Herrick house on Euclid Avenue suggests the opulence that surrounded Cleveland's most prominent families a century ago. The home, completed in 1857, was located at 2435 Euclid Avenue. | Source: Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society View File Details Page

Amasa Stone House

Amasa Stone House

The home of Amasa and Julia Stone, 1255 Euclid Avenue, was completed in 1857. Amasa Stone was a financier and railroad magnate, as well as a bridge engineer. In 1876, Stone was implicated in the collapse of a Lake Shore Rd. rail bridge which resulted in 92 deaths. In the ensuing years, several of his manufacturing firms failed, and in 1883, Amasa Stone committed suicide. | Source: Image courtesy of Western Reserve Historical Society View File Details Page

Drury Mansion

Drury Mansion

The Francis E. Drury Mansion, ca. 1930s. Drury, who earned his fortune in the manufacture of stoves, was the prime benefactor of the Cleveland Playhouse as well as several other cultural institutions. Although the family left the Euclid Avenue mansion in 1926, they built a replica in Gates Mills, which was later acquired by Gilmour Academy. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Eells House, ca. 1910

Eells House, ca. 1910

Daniel P. Eells, an Oberlin College graduate, began his career as a bookkeeper at the State Bank of Ohio, working his way up to become the president of the Commercial National Bank of Cleveland and one of the wealthiest men in the state of Ohio. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Tom Johnson House, ca. 1910

Tom Johnson House, ca. 1910

Johnson, who earned his fortune after patenting a standard toll-box for trolleys, is best known for his service as the progressive Mayor of Cleveland from 1901 to 1909. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Car Dealership, 1931

Car Dealership, 1931

By the 1930s, Millionaires' Row had begun to lose its luster. Like many middle-class Clevelanders would do in later decades, Cleveland's elite had begun moving out into the cleaner and quieter suburbs, leaving a vacuum on Euclid Avenue, which was filled with various short-lived businesses, including many car dealerships. | Source: Cleveland Memory Project, Cleveland State University Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Audio

Euclid Avenue Central

Cleveland's architects discuss the centrality of Euclid Avenue to the city's downtown View File Details Page

Changes Along Millionaire's Row

Clevelanders comment on the history of Euclid Avenue's Millionaire's Row from the heyday of Rockefeller to the used car lots of the 1970s View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Danielle Rose, “Millionaires' Row,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 29, 2016, http://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/10.
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