Filed Under Architecture

Louis Patrick Smith House

The house at 7200 Detroit Avenue,which today is the Craciun-Berry Funeral Home, had an unusual beginning and an unusual end for the family which first owned and occupied it. Legend has it that, in 1888, the house was given as a wedding present to Louis Patrick Smith and his bride Margaret Farnan by Smith's father, Patrick Smith, a wealthy Irish immigrant who had made his fortune in nineteenth century Cleveland in towing and dredging work on Lake Erie. Almost 90 years after that wedding, and long after the house had been sold out of the Smith family and converted into a funeral home, Louis Patrick Smith, Jr., the last surviving child of Louis Patrick Smith and Margaret Farnan, returned for a final time to the house in which he grew up when, on June 17, 1971, his wake was held at this funeral home.

The wedding of Louis Patrick Smith and Margaret Farnan in January 1888 was a society event in Cleveland that year. Louis was the oldest son of Patrick Smith, who, according to an 1885 article appearing in the Cleveland Leader, was listed among Cleveland's millionaires--a list which included John D. Rockefeller, Mark Hanna, and other nineteenth century Cleveland "captains" of industry. The bride Margaret Farnan also came from a wealthy family. Her grandfather, Walter Farnan, who like Patrick Smith was an immigrant from Ireland, in 1852 founded Farnan Brass Works, the first brass foundry in Cleveland. Perhaps not to be outdone by her new son-in-law's wealthy family, Margaret Farnan's mother Mary, according to County deed records, gave the newly wed couple a part of the Farnan estate located along Detroit Avenue between West 70th and West 73rd Streets, including the land upon which the house at 7200 Detroit Avenue presently stands.

Louis Patrick Smith and Margaret Farnan raised their four children, including Louis Patrick Jr., in the house at 7200 Detroit Avenue. The children grew up and moved from the house, but the house remained the family's home until 1929 when Louis Patrick, who had survived his wife Margaret, died. For a period of time in the 1930s and early 1940s the house served Cuyahoga County as a social services office. However, by the mid 1940s, the house had become vacant, was suffering from deterioration, and was rat-infested. That's when Daniel Berry stepped in and saved the house.

Daniel Berry, born in Cleveland in 1897, was a west side Irish American who became involved in the funeral business in 1918 when a shortage of embalmers' assistants during the great Spanish Flu epidemic steered him to his life-long profession. Thereafter, Berry worked at O'Malley Funeral Home on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland before founding the Berry Funeral Home at 1411 West 65th Street in 1932. The business was so successful that Berry needed a larger facility for his funeral business. In 1947, Berry purchased the Louis Patrick Smith home at 7200 Detroit Avenue, transferring his business to this new location.

In the half-century that followed, three generations of the Berry family worked at the funeral home at 7200 Detroit Road. Over the years, a number of changes were made to the exterior of the Louis Patrick Smith house, including the construction of an addition to the rear of the home, removal of an exterior second floor railing, and the construction of a car port.

In 2001, the Craciun family, descendants of Romanian-American John Craciun, Jr. who had opened historic Craciun Funeral home in the World War II era, acquired ownership of the Berry Funeral Home, changing its name to the Craciun-Berry Funeral Home. In retaining the Berry name after acquiring the home, the Craciun family not only preserved the grand house that has stood at the corner of West 73rd and Detroit Avenue for more than 120 years, but also the name of Daniel Berry, the Irish-American, who first saved the house from likely demolition in the post World War II period.


Images

Louis Patrick Smith house The house at 7200 Detroit Avenue was, according to neighborhood legend, built circa 1888 as a wedding present for a wealthy young west side couple, Louis Patrick Smith and Margaret Farnan, heirs to two Cleveland business fortunes. This photo shows the appearance of the house in the 1940s after it was purchased by Daniel L. Berry and became the Berry Funeral Home. Image courtesy of Daniel Greulich
Louis Patrick Smith (1857-1929) Louis Patrick was the oldest son of Patrick Smith, Cleveland's first tugboat operator and the founder of Cleveland Dredge and Dock Co. Louis and his brother James inherited the business from their father, enlarged its operations, and, in 1907, sold the business to Chicago-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. Image courtesy of the Raymond L. Pianka Collection
Society Wedding Announcement On January 18, 1888, the Cleveland Leader ran this announcement of the wedding of Louis Patrick Smith and Margaret Farnan. According to legend, Louis' wealthy father, Patrick Smith, gave the couple the house at 7200 Detroit Avenue as a wedding gift. Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Library, Special Collections
Smith-Farnan Family in 1900 The 1900 United States federal census lists Louis Patrick Smith and Margaret Farnan Smith living on Detroit Avenue with their four children and two domestic servants. The couple lived in the house for their entire adult lives. Margaret died in 1914 and Louis Patrick in 1929. Image courtesy of United States Department of Commerce, Census Bureau
Daniel L. Berry (1897-1955) Daniel Berry was a west side Irish American who became a funeral director as a result of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Berry founded his funeral home in 1932 on West 65th Street. In 1947, he purchased the Louis Patrick Smith house at 7200 Detroit Avenue and moved his funeral business to this location. In this undated photo, Berry is shown with two of his grandchildren in the rear parking lot of the Berry Funeral Home. Image courtesy of Daniel Greulich
A Community Gathering Place Traditionally, Cleveland funeral homes have not been restricted to use only for wakes and funerals. Many have been community gathering places for other special family and friends events. The Berry Funeral Home was such a gathering place, particularly in the post World War II era. In this 1960s photograph, a couple celebrates their wedding at the Berry Funeral Home. Image courtesy of Daniel Greulich
Dining Room Interior This photograph shows a beautifully crafted fireplace in the dining room of the Louis Patrick Smith house, which is now the Craciun-Berry Funeral Home. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko
A view to Detroit Avenue Formerly the front dining room window of the Louis Patrick Smith house, this beautiful leaded glass window still today presents visitors to the Craciun-Berry Funeral Home with a view of the beautiful stone porch as well as historic Detroit Avenue. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko
Foyer and Staircase This photograph shows the quality wood and plaster craftsmanship in the foyer and staircase of the Louis Patrick Smith house. The house was originally equipped with both electric and gas lights, not unusual when it was built because of the unreliability of each utility in the late nineteenth century. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko
Craciun-Berry Funeral Home The front yard of the house at 7200 Detroit Avenue carries a sign (not visible in this photo) identifying the place as the Craciun-Berry Funeral Home. The sign, however, does not simply identify a business. It also identifies two community-minded families from the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood--one Irish and the other Romanian, who, by re-purposing this grand old house, saved it from from almost certain demolition in the post World War II era. In order to effectively convert the home into a funeral home, a number of changes were made, including the removal of the second floor exterior railing and the addition of the carport on the east side of the house. Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko

Location

7200 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Metadata

Jim Dubelko, “Louis Patrick Smith House,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 8, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/538.