Building Porches, Doubles, and Bungalows in the Moreland Neighborhood

East View Village and the Residential Development of Shaker Heights

Visible along the tree-lined streets of Shaker Heights’ South Moreland neighborhood, large porches embellish the first and second stories of double family homes. These stately dwellings offer passersby clues to the area's unique story of development as East View Village during the first two decades of the 20th century.

Visible along the tree-lined streets of Shaker Heights’ South Moreland neighborhood, large porches embellish the first and second stories of double family homes. These stately dwellings offer passersby clues to the area's unique story of development. One might be inclined to think that the homes existed prior to the area’s annexation by Shaker Heights in 1919. Similar to almost half of the housing in the suburb, however, the Moreland neighborhood emerged amid a flurry of construction during the 1920s. While many of the buildings no longer stand, more than 550 homes were erected in Moreland during this era of unprecedented growth for the Village of Shaker Heights. The distinctiveness and historical significance of the neighborhood speaks to the timing and circumstances of residential development in Shaker Heights' lower region, previously a part of East View Village. The differing paths of growth for these two communities converged following the exclusive suburb's annexation of the rural village, contributing to the present-day boundaries - and character - of the City of Shaker Heights.

Histories of Shaker Heights typically center upon the successes of the Van Sweringen brothers in growing what would become one of America’s premier suburbs. Central to this story is the Van Sweringens’ adherence to strict guidelines for the appearance of homes and landscapes, made possible by their company's singular control over the large tract of land initially laid out as the suburb. Through the implementation of deed restrictions, highly-regulated building standards and zoning ordinances, the Village of Shaker Heights became known for its harmonious architectural consistency, beautified public grounds, and highly landscaped streetscapes. However, the Moreland neighborhood, along with other small pockets of land along the edges of the city, offer a different and equally important side to the story of development in Shaker Heights.

The region currently encompassing much of the Moreland, Lomond, Sussex, and Fernway neighborhoods was once a part of East View Village. Established in 1906 from lands of the declining farming community of Warrensville Township, East View Village originally included the area between East 140th Street and Warrensville Center Road. Harvard Road and the lands held by the Shaker Land Company acted as the southern and northern boundaries, respectively. With Cleveland growing inexorably to the west, the decision to carve out a village within Warrensville Township was likely rooted in concerns of being annexed by the emerging city. Since the turn of the century, portions of Brooklyn Township, Newburgh Heights, Glenville, and South Brooklyn had been annexed to Cleveland by way of both community choice and court order. While annexation provided governmental services and municipal facilities to surrounding regions, opponents often cited the pitfalls of decreased governing independence and the perceived corrupting influences of the city.

During its brief existence between 1906 and 1919, East View Village was both a farming community and an emerging middle- and working-class neighborhood for eastern and southern Europeans living along Kinsman Road. The semi-rural region, probably best known to Clevelanders as a speed trap along their route to Randall Park Race Track, was in the path of suburban development. Land in East Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, the Village of Shaker Heights, and East View Village was being acquired and improved by residential developers by 1913. Among these speculative interests in East View Village were the Van Sweringen brothers, who had already acquired properties in what would become Shaker Heights' Fernway neighborhood. At the time, nearly all grounds within a nine-mile radius of Cleveland’s city center had been divided into lots, and the reach of allotment dealers extended from the eastern edge of Bratenahl down to Bedford. A 1915 appraisal of the region reflected East View Village lands as having grown in value more than any other district, with an increase of more than two and a half times their worth in under five years.

The increase in land value, however, did not mean the small village was without its problems. Initially tied to the City of Cleveland for select municipal services, a policy was instituted by Cleveland's Board of Education in 1913 that discontinued the practice of providing education to regional children by annexing suburban school districts. The following year, Cleveland’s fire department announced it would no longer respond to East View Village fire alarms following the refusal of residents to pay a bill. Agreements for fire protection and access to certain schools would eventually be made with the Village of Shaker Heights, but the small community remained tied to outside municipalities for providing basic services to its populace. The increase in land values also meant that East View Village would be subject to larger tax levies by the City of Cleveland.

Not everyone preferred village life. Residents along East 140th Street petitioned for annexation by Cleveland in order to receive cheaper water services in 1914. Still, growth was on the horizon. Van Sweringen interests needed to build a large population base to financially support their planned rapid transit system. Agents for the real estate entrepreneurs pursued all available East View Village farmlands near the Shaker Heights enclave. The Shaker Overlook Company, along with a host of other allotment dealers, was also busy acquiring, subdividing, and improving lands in East View Village and the eastern border of Mount Pleasant. Formed by Emory H. Komlos and Clifford E. Sherry, the Shaker Overlook Company, the Rapid Transit Land Company, and the Parkhill Land and Allotment Company developed over 1,350 building lots in the areas to the west and south of Shaker Heights beginning in 1915.

While the Vans marketed Shaker Heights as a high-class suburb, the allotments in East View Village were designed to attract people of more limited means. Propelled by the promise of a rapid transit system that would drastically reduce travel time to Cleveland, East View Village property dealers attempted to entice buyers with large lots, churches and schools open to Catholics and Protestants alike, and a year of free potatoes delivered to their doorstep. Additionally, advertising for these lands mirrored the marketed attributes of Shaker Heights: plentiful sunshine, pure air, stable property values, and neighbors of the “right sort.”

In 1917, a majority of the lands held by the Shaker Overlook Company was annexed to Cleveland. This included substantial properties on the southwest outskirts of what was to become the Shaker Heights border. The land company, along with a small host of other developers, maintained small lots of lands in what is now the Moreland neighborhood. By 1918, they were beginning to sell new doubles and single-family homes along the border of Shaker Heights, as well as on Milverton, Birch (Colwyn), and East View (Sutton) Roads.

With large portions of East View Village already annexed to Cleveland by 1919, the remaining residents of the small village voted in favor of becoming part of Shaker Heights. This acquisition of land created the current southern boundaries of Shaker Heights, and brought in areas that now compose the neighborhoods of Moreland, Sussex, Lomond, and Fernway. As evidenced by a 1922 map of properties being sold by the Van Sweringen Company, the brothers had purchased and subdivided nearly all annexed lands. Beyond a handful of randomly located lots in Lomond and Sussex, the only substantial areas not held by the Van Sweringens were the entire South Moreland neighborhood between East 156th Street and Lee Road and the southernmost portion of North Moreland.

Having evaded development by the Van Sweringens, these lands were not subject to the deed restrictions or architectural standards placed upon other lands within Shaker Heights. Following the opening of the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit in 1920, demand for housing in the exclusive suburb grew. During the 1920s, nearly 550 building permit cards were filed for the Moreland area. Comparatively, 67 permits were requested during the 1930s and 234 cards filed in the 1940s. The South Moreland neighborhood quickly filled in with American Foursquares, Bungalows, Cleveland Doubles, and smaller single-family houses. This new housing reflected the popular types and styles of homes being built in Cleveland's inner-ring suburbs such as Mount Pleasant and Newburgh Heights. As advertised, the land companies were building homes within the exclusive suburb for middle- and working-class consumers.

The Van Sweringens similarly began exploring the development of more affordable housing and apartments for their newly annexed lands. These efforts, however, were guided by more traditional architectural leanings. A myriad of rules for home and apartment construction were published, and an architectural review board designated to monitor new construction on their lands. The new standards countered the popular building trends that characterize development in the South Moreland neighborhood. All homes were required to be two stories in height, thereby barring Bungalow style structures. Apartments, two-family houses, duplex houses and terraces were allowed, but contained to designated streets. The multifamily homes built on approved grounds, however, were required to have the outward appearance of being single-family structures.

With these restrictions firmly in place by the mid-1920s, the Moreland neighborhood would stand architecturally distinct among its Shaker Heights counterparts. The community's vernacular doubles and single-family homes reflect early 20th-century building trends in both Cleveland and the United States. The homes are also a reminder of the varied paths that converged with the suburb's annexation of East View Village, and how these regional influences shaped both the development and character of what is now the City of Shaker Heights.

Images

Two Family Homes on Hildana Road The popularity of porches in American architecture peaked between 1880 and 1920. Not only did these open spaces offer a place to perform domestic activities and socialize, porches provided an area free from indoor pollutants in the days of coal heating systems. Similarly, porches proved better suited to leisurely activities since backyards were often adorned with rubbish heaps and outhouses. With the rise of cars, radio, television, and indoor plumbing, the popularity of the porch waned by mid century. The architectural feature, which can both foster a sense of community and act as a space of transition for residents between their public and private lives, has recently found new life in urban planning. Source: City of Shaker Heights Neighborhood Revitalization Department
Daniel Warren Home Built in 1818, the home of Daniel Warren was located a block west of Lee Road on the northern side Kinsman (Chagrin) Road. The structure was torn down around 1914. Daniel Warren and his family are considered to be the first settlers in Warrensville Township. Source: Cleveland State University, Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections
Log house, 1913 Pictured above is a log house on Harvard Road, just west of Warrensville Center Road. Harvard Road was the southernmost border of East View Village, and Warrensville Center Road acted as the eastern boundary. Source: Cleveland State University, Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections,
Kinsman Road and East 142nd Street, 1910 East View Village reached as far as East 140th Street until 1917. The western section of the village developed outward from Kinsman Road, and attracted eastern and southern Europeans. The semi-rural landscape was characterized by its large and narrow allotments. This enabled settlers to grow crops and raise livestock while still being in proximity to their work in Cleveland factories and shops. As with other inner-ring suburbs throughout the county, vernacular doubles were popular with home-owners due to the potential extra income brought in by borders. Source: Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society
In the Orchard Pasture, 1915 The region of Warrensville Township that became East View Village was initially developed as farmlands, orchards and pastures. Settlers commonly made their living selling produce, meats, and milk to Clevelanders. Pictured above is the property of John Litzel, located on Lee Road just north of Van Aken Boulevard. Litzel worked as an agent acquiring land for the Van Sweringens. Source: Elizabeth Nord Library, The Shaker Historical Society, Shaker Heights, Ohio
East View School, 1919 East View Village's elementary school was located near Lee Road and what is now Van Aken Boulevard. The structure sat across the street from Warrensville West Cemetary, and would eventually became the site of the rapid transit stop pictured above. Source: Elizabeth Nord Library, The Shaker Historical Society, Shaker Heights, Ohio
The Rapid Transit Land Co., 1918 Land speculation in the Shaker Heights region, and the subsequent allotment of the region's farm lands, was hastened by news of the Vans Sweringens' plans for a rapid transit line connecting Shaker Heights to downtown Cleveland. Service on the line began in April of 1920. Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Advertisement
East View prior to allotment, 1914 The pond pictured above was once located near the intersection of Lomond Boulevard and Avalon Road. It was drained during during the process of allotment by the Van Sweringens. Source: Cleveland State University, Michael Schwartz Library, Special Collections
Shaker Overlook Ads, 1916-1920 The Shaker Overlook Land Company was formed by Emery H. Komlos and Clifford E. Sherry. Their partnership began in 1915 as the Parkhill Land and Allotment Company with the acquisition and sale of 650 building lots near Shaker Heights. The Shaker Overlook Land Company was organized immediately afterwards, and included over 800 lots adjoining their Parkhill development. Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Advertisement
Mount Pleasant, East 123rd Street and Kinsman Road The character of Shaker Heights' Moreland neighborhood is similar to that of inner-ring suburbs such as Mount Pleasant. Source: Cleveland Public Library Photograph Collection
Kinsman Road and East 153rd Street, ca. 1920 A sliver of Kinsman Road between East 150th Street and East 154th Street was annexed to Cleveland from East View Village in 1919. Lands directly south of Kinsman Road had already been annexed to Cleveland in 1917. Despite these storefront properties being taken in by Cleveland, Van Sweringen interests owned the lots abutting the east side of St. Cecelia Church. Source: Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society
Shaker Overlook Subdivision Two, 1917 As reflected in the advertisement map, much of what is now the South Moreland neighborhood was part of Shaker Overlook Subdivision Two. The unique character of the neighborhood is tied to efforts of this land company to develop properties and provide quality homes for middle class customers in exclusive environments . Source: Advertisement
Onaway School, ca. 1920s Residential development peaked in many Shaker Heights neighborhoods during the 1920s. Of the approximately 550 building cards filed for the Onaway neighborhood, more than 380 permits dated to the 1920s. Source: Cleveland History Center of the Western Reserve Historical Society
Home Sweet Home Model, 1924 While Van Sweringen interests did not guide the development of the South Moreland neighborhood, they did acquire lands in the North Moreland area. Revamped to meet Van Sweringen standards, the Better Home League of America constructed a model "Home Sweet Home" on the east side of what is now Sutton Road near the South Moreland Boulevard intersection in 1924. The structure was modeled from a national demonstration home constructed on the National Mall in 1923. Constructed of concrete and veneered with stucco, the affordable, fireproof display was meant to promote home ownership. Source: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Advertisement
Front Porch Shaker, 2002 While porches were once discouraged by Shaker Heights zoning ordinances, inclusion of the architectural feature is now recommended for new homes in the Sussex, Lomond, and Moreland neighborhoods as a reflection of neighborhood identity. In an effort to showcase the distinct character of Moreland in 2002, the City of Shaker Heights offered residents financial and technical assistance repairing porches as part of its "Front Porch Shaker" program. Source: Shaker Heights Public Library, Local History Collection

Location

Metadata

Richard Raponi, “Building Porches, Doubles, and Bungalows in the Moreland Neighborhood,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 3, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/837.