The Schofield Building
Recovering the Original Façade
Who would have guessed that underneath an ugly, polished granite exterior was a beautiful Victorian style building designed by Levi Schofield?
For 30 years the beautiful red brick and terra cotta Schofield Building lay hidden underneath under a gray sequoia granite façade. In an effort to modernize the Schofield Building, part of Cleveland’s history had been buried. Luckily, historic preservation brought the original beauty of the Schofield Building back to Cleveland.
From the very beginning, the construction of the Schofield Building was wrought with impediments. Levi Schofield designed the Schofield Building to be built on the site of Schofield family residence located on East Ninth Street and Euclid Avenue. In August of 1900, Levi Schofield’s sister Mary E. Field objected to the use of the deeds belonging to property, claiming that the Schofield Building Co. was using the deeds without her authority. The common pleas court case had little effect on the construction as Schofield’s plan to build a fourteen story office building on the property attracted the attention of several banking and trust firms.
The construction of the Schofield Building began in April of 1901. On April 16th a laborer on the Schofield construction site named William O’Neal was badly injured when he fell from the first story and was buried under the debris of a toppled wall. Schofield was arrested on September 16, 1901 for violating the building ordinance by not providing temporary floors in the Schofield Building during construction. Schofield informed the Plain Dealer that he was humiliated by the police who treated him as if he were a “common pickpocket” and a “rogue.” Schofield explained that it was not his responsibility to put the temporary floors into the Schofield Building, but that of Building Inspector Harks. During Schofield’s September 27th trial, Inspector Harks testified that the Schofield Building was ready to install temporary floors, but Schofield refused to install them because they would be in the way. Schofield testified that the building was not ready for the temporary floors, and it would be dangerous to install them. Schofield was acquitted when Judge Woolf dismissed the case due to insufficient evidence.
In October of 1901, another man fell from the Schofield Building. Inspector Harks attempted to obtain another warrant for Schofield’s arrest. Mayor Tom L. Johnson advised Police Director Dunn not to serve the warrant. Mayor Johnson threatened to revoke Harks’ building inspector certification and insisted that Harks have the contractor arrested instead of Schofield. Regardless of warrants, the unsafe conditions continued on the Schofield Building construction site. Another incident occurred on October 29th when a lumber derrick broke two stories up, sending lumber crashing to the ground. Luckily there were no workmen directly under the derrick and there were no injuries.
As the 429-room, fourteen story Schofield Building neared completion in 1902, its red-brick masonry and terra cotta moldings covered its steel skeleton, also consigning to fading memory the tumultuousness of its construction. In 1969, another layer then consigned even the building itself to fading memory as the Nelson Façade Company put new facing on the upper floors made of fiberglass panels and metal trim. When the Citizens Federal Savings & Loan Association became the new owners in 1980, they began to renovate the Schofield Building. The new design by Hoag-Wismar Partnership’s architect Raymond S. Febo intended to blend the Schofield Building into the architectural landscape of the area. Febo chose a polished gray sequoia granite to complement the three surrounding banking institutions. The lower-level columns of the Schofield Building were sheathed by the granite and panoramic windows were installed. The result was a building that not only lost its original appearance but also its very name: The Schofield Building was now Euclid-Ninth Tower!
A historic restoration of the Schofield Building was promised in 2009. The metal façade was removed to investigate the brickwork and terra cotta underneath. The remaining historic material qualified the Schofield Building for federal and state tax credits, but the recession kept the renovation from going forward. The Schofield Building sat windowless and surrounded by scaffolding for three years.
The Schofield Building has proven to be an adaptable home to many Cleveland businesses and professionals. Some tenants of the Schofield Building include manufacturing companies, advertising firms, printing companies, investment security companies, brokers, lawyers, bankers, treasurers, engineers, stenographers, and tailors. The Schofield building was also home to Cleveland's first gay-friendly bar, the Cadillac Lounge. The Cadillac Lounge was a small piano bar in business from 1946 to the 1960s.
J. B. Robinson Co., Inc. was a wholesale diamond operation located on the 8th floor of the Schofield Building. It was founded in 1946 by Joseph B. Robinson and became one of the largest jewelers in the country. Robinson's son, Lawrence, changed the company to a retail jewelry firm, and became the "Diamond Man" spokesman for the company in the 1960s. Currently, the Schofield Building has transformed into a four-star boutique hotel.
In 2013 Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants promised to turn the Schofield Building into a 122 room hotel below 52 luxury apartments. The brick and terra cotta of the exterior along with the decorative cornices and Corinthian columns were repaired or recreated. The interior was completely rebuilt, only the original marble and iron staircase remain imprinted with an “S” for “Schofield.” The Kimpton Schofield Hotel opened in March of 2016, decorated with artwork that reflects Cleveland’s industrial roots. The Schofield Building celebrates over a hundred years of Cleveland’s local history, highlighting the importance of historical preservation.