Filed Under Suburbs

Franchester Place

Politics and Pastures

The southwestern quadrant of Lyndhurst, Ohio, is bounded by Richmond Road on the east, Cedar Road on the south, Oakmont Road on the west, and Mayfield Road on the north. Portions of this bucolic, one-square-mile corner of the city have been home to the Mayfield Country Club, Lyndhurst Park Estates, and Hawken School for the past century. Limited access from surrounding roadways has kept the entire area private and secure since the country club opened in 1908. The southeastern corner of this real estate was occupied by a few of Cleveland’s most prominent and influential families. Chester C. and Frances P. Bolton made their home, Franchester Place, on the largest of these parcels from 1917 to 1977. 



Chester Castle Bolton was born in Cleveland to Charles Chester and Julia Castle Bolton in September 1882, the oldest of the couple’s five sons. Charles Bolton was a prominent local industrialist (Hanna Mining) and business leader, and his wife Julia was the daughter of William Castle, who had served as Mayor of Cleveland in 1855-57. Young Chester Bolton attended University School in Shaker Heights and went on to Harvard, where he completed his degree in 1905. Two years later, he returned to Cleveland and married Frances Payne Bingham. Bingham was also from a long line of Cleveland industrialist and philanthropic families. Early in their marriage, Chester and Frances purchased land in Lyndhurst to build their home. Chester commissioned architect Prentice Sanger, his Harvard classmate, to design the Georgian Revival frame colonial for their house. Construction began in 1914 and was completed in 1917. The 6,700-square-foot home is positioned on a southwestern parcel of their 110-acre farm that abuts the Mayfield Country Club golf course.



The surrounding space was aptly described in 1918 in a detailed 44-page real estate promotional booklet: “Lots of Distinction ... for the owner who considers his neighbor’s outlook as well as his own … for buildings, grounds, gardens, or new plantations without impairing desirable privacy.” The booklet presented 40 available parcels in meticulous detail, including their terrain, soil properties, and plant and tree growth. By the time of its publication, the Boltons had already joined neighbors Henry Sherman, Otto Miller, Gardner Abbott, and in-laws Dudley and Elizabeth Blossom, in building stately homes and grounds that created an exclusive community near the Richmond-Cedar Road intersection. The Euclid Creek divides the western Mayfield Country Club grounds from the available parcels noted in the booklet. The Boltons’ philanthropic spirit was manifest in 1922 with a gift of a portion of their land to Hawken School that enabled the school to move from its Cleveland location to Lyndhurst to meet expanding needs. The Hawken School lower campus remains on the site where earlier farms occupied much of Boltons’ space along Richmond Road with rich pasture land.



Meanwhile, Chester Bolton had joined the Army National Guard in 1917 and served as an Army Ordnance officer before returning home to Lyndhurst in 1918. He began his political career as a Lyndhurst council member for three years and then moved on to the Ohio Senate. In 1928 he was elected to the United States Congress. Although he lost in 1936, he was re-elected to Congress two years later. Early during his public service, Bolton cultivated a deep interest in breeding cattle, notably Guernsey dairy cattle. He began raising the cattle on his acreage in Lyndhurst, building his herd to nearly 200 heads at Franchester Place. 



The rich milk of the Guernsey grew very popular in the Cleveland area. Increased demand, coupled with ideal conditions for dairy farming, prompted investments by Cleveland’s wealthy industrialists and prominent citizens. The Chagrin Valley Guernsey Breeders’ Association, comprised of farm owners including Walter White (White Motors), Elbert Baker (Plain Dealer publisher), Jeptha Wade II (mining and manufacturing), Francis E. Drury (Perfection Stove Co.), and the Van Sweringens (rail developers), joined Bolton. Colectively, they owned and operated farms in Lyndhurst, Willoughby, Gates Mills, Chagrin Falls, and Hunting Valley along with other cattlemen in Cleveland’s eastern counties. Chester C. Bolton served as the President of the Association and soon after was named President of the American Guernsey Cattle Club, a national organization. Bolton further expanded his dairy operation by establishing Franchester Farm on 1,200 acres in Ravenna, Ohio, to accommodate a growing herd and reduced the Lyndhurst operation to the “laboratory pastures.” By 1933 he owned the largest herd of Guernseys in Ohio and the tenth largest in the United States. Dairy processing and distribution complemented the milk production. The O. A. Dean Dairy, Hillside Dairy, and Bruder Dairy in Cleveland Heights were convenient for the eastern farms to market and distribute the milk. Dean Dairy worked closely with Franchester Farms; one of the Bolton sons later became a Director of Dean Properties.



Chester Bolton passed away in 1939 while serving his fifth term in the House of Representatives. Frances was elected to complete the term and went on to represent Ohio’s 22nd District for another 29 years until her defeat in 1968. Throughout both careers, Franchester Place served not only as a dairy farm but as a gathering place for business and political events hosted by the Boltons. Though she maintained other homes, Frances continued her legal residence at Franchester Place until her death in 1977. 



The Bolton property was maintained for a few more years while it was sold to TRW (Thompson Ramo Wooldridge), a global automobile and aerospace electronics giant to build its world headquarters. The space-age building was completed in 1983 and occupied until 2002 when TRW was absorbed in a corporate takeover, leading to the sale of its headquarters property to a developer that built the Legacy Village shopping center on the Cedar-Richmond corner. TRW donated its building and the remaining land of Franchester to the Cleveland Clinic, which operated a wellness campus there for the next two decades. In 2022, Cleveland Clinic abandoned the site and demolished the TRW building in 2023 with plans to market the property. Despite the transitions that followed Frances Payne Bolton's death, Franchester Place has continued to be maintained as an event center.

Images

Franchester Place, The Back Terrace
Franchester Place, The Back Terrace The terrace view from the north. Wooded terrain have filled much of the pasture spaces extending north of the house on the 110-acre property. Source: American Castles on Instagram Date: September 2020
Residence of Col. Chester C. Bolton
Residence of Col. Chester C. Bolton This photograph of the Bolton residence was included in the real estate "brochure" published in 1918. Boltons' house was completed in 1917. Source: Warren H. Manning, A Description of Estates on the Community Lands About the Mayfield Country Club, 1918, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1918
Entrance, Col. Chester C. Bolton Estate.
Entrance, Col. Chester C. Bolton Estate. This roadway off Richmond Road in Lyndhurst weaved through the Boltons' pastures. Source: Warren H. Manning, A Description of Estates on the Community Lands About the Mayfield Country Club, 1918, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1918
Farm Buildings: Lot 27
Farm Buildings: Lot 27 The dairy farm enterprise began on the grounds of Bolton's home in Lyndhurst. These buildings facilitated the milk production of the nearly 200-head herd. Source: Warren H. Manning, A Description of Estates on the Community Lands About the Mayfield Country Club, 1918, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1918
The Apples: Lot 18 Pasture View
The Apples: Lot 18 Pasture View A few members of the herd are seen grazing in this photo plate. Source: Warren H. Manning, A Description of Estates on the Community Lands About the Mayfield Country Club, 1918, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1918
Advertisement for the Chagrin Valley Guernsey Breeders' Association
Advertisement for the Chagrin Valley Guernsey Breeders' Association This ad appeared on a story page concerning "Cleveland's cattlemen" in the Plain Dealer in August, 1923. Notable industrialists, philanthropists, and political leaders were involved in dairy cattle farming in Cleveland's then-rural eastern suburbs. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Digital Newspaper Collection Date: August 12, 1923
Residence, Henry S. Sherman Lot 28
Residence, Henry S. Sherman Lot 28 Sherman, an Admiralty Attorney, was the Boltons' nearest neighbor to the south on the grounds. Source: Warren H. Manning, A Description of Estates on the Community Lands About the Mayfield Country Club, 1918, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1918
The Community Lands about the Mayfield Country Club
The Community Lands about the Mayfield Country Club The brochure promoting the real estate contains this map of the grounds. The Bolton property extends north and south along Richmond Road on the right side of the plot. Existing neighbors are also noted on this sublet layout. Source: Warren H. Manning, A Description of Estates on the Community Lands About the Mayfield Country Club, 1918, Cleveland Public Library Date: 1918
Aerial View of the Bolton Grounds
Aerial View of the Bolton Grounds This view offers a bird's-eye view of the grounds surrounding the Bolton house (highlighted in the center). The star-shaped building is the TRW World Headquarters, built in 1982. Source: Cuyahoga County (Ohio)--Aerial photographs, The Cleveland Public Library. Map Collection Creator: Natural Resources Conservation District, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Date: 1988
Chester Castle Bolton, U.S. House of Representatives
Chester Castle Bolton, U.S. House of Representatives A portrait photo of Congressman Chester C. Bolton. He served congress from 1928 to 1936 and again in 1938 util his death in 1939. Source: Harris-Ewing Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Mrs. Oliver  P. Bolton, Barbara Bolton, and Mrs Chester C. Bolton
Mrs. Oliver P. Bolton, Barbara Bolton, and Mrs Chester C. Bolton Mrs. Chester Castle Bolton (Frances Payne) was here [in Lyndhurst] from Washington to entertain with a tea at her home, to introduce her granddaughter, Barbara Bolton to her friends. They posed on the back terrace of Franchester Place. Source: Cleveland Public Library, Photograph Collection Creator: Richard J. Misch Date: September 11, 1962
Franchester Place, home of Chester C. and Frances P. Bolton.
Franchester Place, home of Chester C. and Frances P. Bolton. The Boltons' home south entrance driveway. The house, a 6700 square-foot Georgian colonial, remains on the property in 2024. Source: American Castles on Instagram Date: September 2020
Franchester Gardens
Franchester Gardens Sculpted gardens on the home's east, continue to be maintained as the property is used as an event space. Source: American Castles on Instagram Date: September 2020
Franchester Garden Entrance
Franchester Garden Entrance Source: American Castles on Instagram Date: September 2020

Location

1950 Richmond Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124

Metadata

Jim Lanese, “Franchester Place,” Cleveland Historical, accessed April 21, 2024, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/1014.