Jacob Strong Home

The house at 18829 Fairmount Boulevard is not only one of the oldest in Shaker Heights. It is also a house which has been associated over the years with a number of Shaker Heights most famous families.

The Jacob Strong home is believed to have been built sometime during the years 1839-1847 by Jacob Strong, a Pennsylvania native who migrated to northeastern Ohio around 1830. In 1835, Strong purchased 160 acres of land in Lot No. 14 of Warrensville Township. Several years later, he built on that land the house which today bears the above address.

Strong farmed 100 of the 160 acres he purchased, selling the other 60 acres to a neighbor in 1838. On this land, Strong and his wife Clarissa raised their eight children--Lucina, Hannah, John, Ely, Spencer, Albert, Jacob and Myron. In 1853, perhaps hearing of more fertile lands in the west, Strong sold his farm to John Hecker and moved with his family to Indiana.

It is an understatement to simply write that the Hecker family lasted longer in this area of northeastern Ohio than the Strong family. John Hecker, and later his son Jacob, operated a dairy farm on the 100 acres purchased from Jacob Strong from the 1850s until the second decade of the twentieth century. Shortly after Shaker Heights incorporated in 1912, the Hecker Family sold their farm to Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen. Even after the Hecker Farm had been sold to this pair of famed Shaker Heights developers, the Hecker family remained active and involved in the community. John A. Hecker, a grandson of John Hecker, was a life long resident of Shaker Heights, served as a Councilman for thirty years during the first half of the twentieth century, and was one of the founding members of the Shaker Historical Society.

In 1919, the Jacob Strong home was sold to William W. Bustard. Bustard was a fiery and controversial Baptist minister who served as pastor of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland from 1909 to 1925. Upon purchasing the Jacob Strong home, Bustard commissioned the well-known Cleveland architectural firm of Walker and Weeks to make additions and changes to the house to convert it from Western Reserve Greek Revival style to Colonial Revival style. In 1921, shortly after Walker and Weeks completed their work, the house was the site of an attempted attack upon Reverend Bustard. In the evening hours of November 28, 1921, five armed gunmen cut the telephone wires to the house and assaulted an employee of the Church who lived with the Bustard family. Rev. Bustard was not at home at the time. While no one was ever arrested or charged in connection with this attack, which also involved a gun battle between the armed gunmen and Shaker Heights police in the middle of the night, many at the time suspected that the attack was in response to Bustard's fiery condemnation of former Cleveland Police Chief Fred Kohler who had recently been elected Mayor of Cleveland.

It has also been noted that during these years the Jacob Strong home was visited by John D. Rockefeller, the most famous parishioner of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church. During the period 1909-1925, Bustard was not only Rockefeller's spiritual adviser when the latter was in Cleveland, but, as a former college athlete, Bustard quickly became one of Rockefeller's favorite golfing partners.

While perhaps the house at 18829 Fairmount has not seen in recent years the sort of political and social excitement which circulated about it during the years of its ownership by Rev. William W. Bustard or the Hecker family, it has remained a house which always seems to attract owners who become actively involved in the community and in politics. Thus, it should have come as no surprise that, in the last several decades of the twentieth century, the Jacob Strong home was owned by Margaret Anne Cannon, the long time and well-respected Law Director of Shaker Heights.

The Jacob Strong Home was designated a Shaker Heights landmark on May 14, 1966.

Images

Map