Oldest Stone House

John Honam (1790-1845) built the Oldest Stone House in 1834 on the north side of Detroit Avenue, just to the east of its intersection with Warren Road. Honam came to what was then known as Rockport Township around 1830 by way of Scotland and Portland, Maine, becoming one of Rockport's first settlers. He came to own over 90 acres of land in the rural township, with his parcel extending north of Detroit Avenue to the lake, bounded to the east and west by what are now Belle and Cook Avenues. Not much is known about Honam's activities, but it is likely that he made a living by farming his land. Honam's daughter Isabella (1815-1897) and her husband Orvis Hotchkiss ( 1809-1881) inherited the Oldest Stone House after John Honam died in 1845. Hotchkiss continued to farm a part of the land and also ran a tannery and a steam mill on the property. The married couple raised their family in the house, but after Isabella's death in 1897 none of John Honam's descendants would live there again.

Reflecting the transformation of Rockport around this time from a rural farming community into the affluent residential suburb of Lakewood, in 1899 the Lakewood Realty Company purchased the Oldest Stone House and used it as a sales office for its swanky Lakewood Park housing development. After Lakewood Realty Company moved out of the house, it contained a succession of commercial businesses, including a shoe repair shop, a photography studio, and a doctor's office. The house was also occasionally rented out as living quarters to various families and individuals. The longest lasting tenant in the Old Stone House during this period was surely Gilbert P. Hostelley's upholstery and furniture repair shop, located in the house from 1919-1952.

Smack dab in the middle of Lakewood's growing commercial district along Detroit Avenue, it was only a matter of time before the Oldest Stone House was threatened with demolition. In 1952, furrier Stephen Babin of Babin Furs at the northwest corner of Detroit and St. Charles Avenues and -- since 1942 -- owner of the Old Stone House located just to the north of his shop, sought to expand his business, putting the house in harm's way. Babin offered the house to local historian Margaret Manor Butler at no cost. Butler, in a flurry of activity, raised the money needed to move the house, negotiated with the city of Lakewood to relocate it to its current site at Lakewood Park, and founded the Lakewood Historical Society. In 1953, the Oldest Stone House opened as both home to the historical society and as a museum dedicated to recreating the frontier life of Rockport Township in the 19th-century. Fittingly, the house now stands on land that was originally a part of John Honam's 97-acre estate.

Images

Oldest Stone House, 1902

Oldest Stone House, 1902

The Oldest Stone House (right) is shown next to a commercial building on the north side of Detroit Avenue in 1902. To the right of the Oldest Stone House is St. Charles Avenue, a north-south street which was constructed in 1901. Researchers at the Lakewood Historical Society have found some evidence to suggest that the house was moved 20 feet west of its original 1834 location during the construction of St. Charles Avenue. German immigrants Otto and Sophia Miller lived in the house from 1901-1903 with their three children. Otto Miller was a coachman for Charles L.F. Wieber, owner of the Lakewood Realty Company, which had purchased the Oldest Stone House in 1899 to use as a sales office for its Lakewood Park residential development. It seems likely that the Millers rented the house from Wieber once the sales office had closed down. Image courtesy of the Lakewood Historical Society View File Details Page

HABS Sketch, 1935

HABS Sketch, 1935

The United States Department of the Interior's Historic American Buildings Survey made this sketch of the Oldest Stone House -- misidentified as the Hall House -- in 1935. Joseph Curtis Hall did construct a stone house in Lakewood (then known as Rockport Township) shortly after Honam constructed his, but Hall's was razed in 1916 to make way for an expansion of Lakewood Hospital. In the official Library of Congress record for this HABS entry, there is a 1958 letter from the Lakewood Historical Society correcting this mistake. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress View File Details Page

Shoe Repair, 1915

Shoe Repair, 1915

The signs in the doorway and on the tree lawn indicate that when this photograph was taken in 1915, the Oldest Stone House contained a shoe repair store. Image courtesy of the Lakewood Historical Society View File Details Page

G.P. Hostelley, 1935

G.P. Hostelley, 1935

The G.P. Hostelley furniture repair and upholstery shop was located in the Oldest Stone House from 1919-1952. The Hostelley family also lived in the house for a number of years. They did not own the building during any of this time though. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress View File Details Page

Moving Day, 1952

Moving Day, 1952

Mural and Sons Construction Company moved the Oldest Stone House to Lakewood Park on November 16, 1952. Margaret Manor Butler, who had founded the Lakewood Historical Society that year with the express purpose of saving the house, persuaded an initially skeptical Lakewood City Council to cover $10,000 of the moving and restoration costs. Butler raised the remaining $3,500 needed through other sources within the community. Image courtesy of the Lakewood Historical Society View File Details Page

Dedication, April 1953

Dedication, April 1953

Margaret Manor Butler poses in front of the Oldest Stone House on the day of its dedication at Lakewood Park in April 1953. Butler moved to Lakewood with her husband in the 1920s after having grown up in Cleveland. While taking long walks with her sons around Lakewood during the gasoline rationing of the World War II years, Butler developed an interest in the city's old homes. Her interest led her to write a series of local history stories for the weekly Lakewood Post newspaper. After her victorious effort to save the Oldest Stone House, she continued to write about Lakewood's history, publishing several books while also continuing to serve as the President of the Lakewood Historical Society. Image courtesy of the Lakewood Historical Society View File Details Page

Oldest Stone House, 1975

Oldest Stone House, 1975

The Oldest Stone House underwent extensive renovations in 1975. The one-story wooden addition that probably contained the house's kitchen, but which had been removed by 1901, was again added to the house. Workers also re-stabilized the house's foundation, removed a number of the original rotting floorboards, and added a concrete basement that contains classrooms, a restroom, offices, and extra storage space. Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

“Oldest Stone House,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/222.
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