Imagine walking into this building located on Cleveland State University's campus near East 24th Street and Chester Avenue, and negotiating with a salesman to buy a Buick! Before it saw institutional use, this building constructed in 1924 was the Ohio Motors Building. It was a car showroom and service building, which sold and serviced Buick automobiles and, later, Lincoln-Mercury automobiles.
In the early 1940s, one year after Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War II, the building's top floor was converted to a school to teach women hired by two local aircraft factories how to "help build the bombing planes that will rain destruction on Berlin and Tokyo."
In the 1950s, Fenn College, CSU's predecessor, bought the Ohio Motors building, renovated it, and renamed it Stilwell Hall in honor of Fenn College Board of Trustees' chairman Charles J. Stilwell. Ever since its acquisition by Fenn College, the building has been home to the Fenn School of Engineering. When the school was renamed the Washkewicz College of Engineering in 2013, Stilwell Hall was rechristened Fenn Hall to preserve the Fenn name's long association with the engineering program. The "Foxes' Den Lounge" located in Fenn Hall in what was formerly the auto showroom is the lone reminder of a time when the campus mascot was the Fenn "Foxes" rather than the CSU "Vikings."
For over half a century, Fenn Hall has provided training for area engineers and provided Fenn College--and now Cleveland State University--with much-needed classrooms, labs, a library, and an auditorium.
While Fenn Hall is located closer to Chester Avenue than to Euclid Avenue, it nonetheless is connected not only to Cleveland's early retail automobile industry, but also to Cleveland's nineteenth-century millionaires. Fenn Hall sits on a portion of what formerly were the grounds of the Tom L. Johnson mansion.