Mather Mansion

Description

In the days of horse-drawn carriages and booming industry, one street in Cleveland showcased the elite among the city's citizens. Millionaire's Row, a length of Euclid Avenue, was where prominent figures such as John D. Rockefeller, Marcus Hanna, and Charles F. Brush built their mansions. The largest among them was built for Samuel Mather, chairman of Pickands, Mather & Company, one of the four largest shippers of iron ore in the country. He held the position of officer or director for over two dozen iron, banking, and transportation corporations. For years Mather was among the richest citizens in Cleveland and contributed more than $8 million to community-based organizations.

The 45-room Mather Mansion, completed in 1910, at the time was the most expensive home in Cleveland and was the largest home ever built on the street. It was among the street's most luxurious mansions, with handcrafted stone, brick and woodwork and a third-floor ballroom with a 16-foot ceiling that could easily hold 300 guests. Mather Mansion's scale and opulence reflected its owner's attempt to arrest the declining desirability of Millionaire's Row as commercial and industrial buildings encroached. Mather commissioned Charles Schweinfurth, who had previously designed the Rockefeller Park Bridges and at least 12 homes on the street, to design the mansion. Mather was already a supporter of Schweinfurth's work, having given the architect $1 million to cover the cost of building nearby Trinity Cathedral.

As the commercial district of Cleveland pressed further down Euclid Avenue, the elaborate homes began to lose their grandeur in the wake of skyscrapers and large retail stores, and Mather’s home proved to be the last built on the storied street. Between 1923 and 1951, many of the homes on Millionaire's Row were demolished to make way for parking lots and commercial buildings. In the mid-1950s, the homes between Mather Mansion and East 30th Street were demolished to make way for the Innerbelt Freeway. Even more homes were torn down in the following decades to accommodate the expansion of Cleveland State University’s campus.

Yet, lying just out of the way of the interstate highway and at some distance from the core of CSU's emerging campus, Mather Mansion survived. Upon Samuel Mather's death in 1931, the residence passed to the Cleveland Institute of Music and in 1940 the property was transferred to the Cleveland Automobile Club (an affiliate of AAA). In 1967 Cleveland State University acquired and renovated Mather Mansion, and six years later the house became one of the first Cleveland buildings to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1975, Mather Mansion was among only seven remaining Millionaire Row's homes, allowing a rare glimpse of the magnificence that once dominated Euclid Avenue. In 2009-10 it served as the temporary home of the University's History and Philosophy departments.

In 2014, the university abandoned plans to renovate the Tudor mansion into a boutique hotel and instead allocated $2.7 million to renovate the mansion into the new home for the Center for International Services and Programs, a program to teach English as a second language.

Audio Show

The Bar In The Mather Stables

Robert Wheeler on the conversion of the Mather Mansion Stables

The Mather Family

Robert Wheeler, History Professor at Cleveland State University, shares the background of the Mather Family

The Mansion Gets New Occupants

Robert Wheeler recounts the history of the Mather Mansion and his
memories of the building

Preserving Interior Of Mather Mansion

Robert Wheeler describes the interior of the Mather Mansion

Photos Show

Mather Mansion, Exterior

Mather Mansion, 2605 Euclid Avenue, was completed in 1910. At the time it was the most expensive home in Cleveland and is the largest home ever built on the street. Mather Mansion was among the street's most luxurious mansions, with handcrafted stone, brick, and woodwork and a third-floor ballroom with a 16-foot ceiling that could easily hold 300 guests.

Millionaire's Row, ca. 1910s

In this picture (circa 1910s) are, from left to right, Euclid Avenue mansions belonging to Charles Binhgam, Harry Devereux, Samuel Mather, and Leonard Hanna. Despite the allure of the mansions on Millionaire's Row, commercial development and the construction of the Innerbelt Freeway led to the demolition of many of the elaborate structures.

Sunken Gardens, ca. 1930

Schweinfurth built Mather Mansion to be the most elaborate and striking of his structures, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the magnificent garden that covered most of the grounds behind the home. Michael DeAloia observes in Lost Cleveland, "Mather had one of the most intricate gardens on the grand avenue, conveniently located behind his home."

Interior, 1978

CSU restored much of the house after purchasing it from the Cleveland Automobile Club, and in 1973 it became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Despite the home's age, much of the infrastructure remained intact and the restoration was mostly an effort to convert rooms into offices and update fixtures.

Mansion as Auto Club, 1940

From 1940 to 1967, Mather Mansion served as the location of the Cleveland Automobile Club. In this photo, the house's wood paneling is covered with travel photos and racks of tourist brochures and maps. Founded in 1900, the Club was the second automobile club founded in the United States. Upon the sale of the mansion to Cleveland State University the club moved to a new headquarters on South Marginal Road, where it remains today as the Ohio Motorists Association.

Mather Mansion, 1966

In this scene, Mather Mansion is surrounded by parking lots with industrial factories in the background. The encroachment of commercialism prompted the city's elite to begin abandoning Millionaire's Row even before Samuel Mather built his home. By the 1960s, the mansion stood between a six-lane freeway and a sea of parked cars of students attending Fenn College and, later, Cleveland State.

Exterior, 1968

In 1967, the mansion became part of the Cleveland State University campus. Over the years it has held a multitude of offices for the university including alumni affairs and university relations and development. In 2014, CSU announced it would spend $2.7 million to renovate the mansion into the new home for the Center for International Services and Programs, a program to teach English as a second language.

Cite this Page

Danielle Rose, “Mather Mansion,” Cleveland Historical, accessed December 23, 2014, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​87.​
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