Shaker Heights Master Model Homes

The construction of the Scottsdale Boulevard Master Model Homes was part of a nationwide effort to improve the quality of homes in the nation during the 1920s. The Better Homes Movement, launched in 1922 by a women's household magazine, viewed home improvement as a means for both personal and material betterment. In 1928, Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, spoke in lofty terms when describing the movement's goals, saying that "The construction of better built houses is a civic and economic asset to the community" that makes possible "a higher and finer type of national life deriving its strength from well-managed, self-reliant homes and wholesome family life."

It is safe to say that the tens of thousand of people who flocked to view the Master Model Homes in Shaker Heights were more interested in the new technology and master craftsmanship on display than in Hoover's claims that "better citizenship" and "character training" would be the result of the Better Homes campaign.

The architectural firm of Fox, Duthie, and Foose built eight Master Model Homes on Scottsdale Boulevard in 1928. Like the rest of the houses in Shaker Heights, the Master Model Homes were designed in either English, French, or Colonial style.

At 18320 Scottsdale is a French Norman house with a stucco exterior, steeply pitched slate roof, and turreted front entrance. There is also a Rural English Cottage at 18716 Scottsdale which features Tudor-style half-timbering and leaded glass casement windows. The six other Master Model Homes include an English Studio at 18305 Scottsdale, an American Colonial at 17725 Scottsdale, another Rural English Cottage at 18302 Scottsdale, an Urban French house at 18108 Scottsdale, a Pennsylvania Farm House at 17732 Scottsdale, and an American Colonial at 18421 Scottsdale.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer co-sponsored the construction of the Master Model Homes and heavily promoted their progress in the newspaper, inviting the public to view the houses during weekend exhibitions. Articles stressed the campaign's theme that "moderate priced homes can be constructed in first class residential districts, of the finest nationally advertised materials, and using attractive plans designed by well known architects without adding to the cost." Shoddy building materials and do-it-yourself construction projects, the paper argued, led to unsightly and unsafe homes that tarnished the character of a neighborhood.

Shaker Heights, which enforced similar standards of high-quality design and construction, was a perfect fit for the Master Model Homes. In addition, Scottsdale Boulevard, near the border with Cleveland, sat in a neighborhood of more modest sized lots that were a far cry from the palatial estates associated with Shaker Heights. Originally selling for around $15,000, the Master Model Homes served as an example to middle-class Clevelanders that an attractive, single-family home in a safe suburban neighborhood was an obtainable goal.

The Shaker Heights Landmark Commission designated all eight of the Master Model Homes on Scottsdale Boulevard as City of Shaker Heights landmarks on August 27, 1984.

Images

18302 Scottsdale

18302 Scottsdale

Fox, Duthie, and Foose designed this Master Model Home at 18302 Scottsdale Boulevard in the Rural English Cottage style. It features a brick and stucco exterior, half-timbering, and leaded glass casement windows. It was the sixth Master Model Home to be constructed. Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

GE Refrigerator Ad, 1928

GE Refrigerator Ad, 1928

Each Scottsdale Master Model Home was outfitted with a new General Electric refrigerator. GE's "Monitor-Top" model (named for its resemblance to a gun turret on the 19th-century warship USS Monitor) pictured in this ad first hit shelves in 1927. General Electric produced over a million of these models, making it one of the first widely used refrigerators in the world. Electric refrigerators did not become a staple in American homes, however, until their price came down in the years following World War II. This 1928 advertisement promises that the refrigerators "will protect the health and insure the comfort" of the families who move into the Master Model Homes, while needing "no attention -- not even oiling!" Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. View File Details Page

Truscon Windows Ad, 1928

Truscon Windows Ad, 1928

Part of the educational mission of the Master Model Homes was to demonstrate that high-quality, "nationally advertised" building materials could be used to construct moderately priced homes. Truscon Steel (a Youngstown company that became a subsidiary of Republic Steel in 1935) provided casement windows for a number of the Master Model Homes, including the Norman cottage at 18320 Scottsdale pictured in this advertisement. A casement window is a window that is hinged at the side to its frame. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. View File Details Page

17732 Scottsdale Boulevard

17732 Scottsdale Boulevard

The blueprint below the recent photograph of 17732 Scottsdale Boulevard appeared in an August 1928 Cleveland Plain Dealer article about the home. Fox, Duthie, and Foose designed this house in the Pennsylvania Farmhouse style, with a brick and stucco exterior, a first-floor bay window, and a unique "hood" on top of the first floor. In 1928, the Plain Dealer commented that "comfort and simplicity form the keynote" of the house, but "with them is combined a dignity rarely found in structures of such little ostentation." Historic image courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections Recent image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

American Colonial Home

American Colonial Home

This Master Model Home at 18421 Scottsdale Boulevard features an American Colonial design with a brick exterior, wood portico, and front chimney. Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

18320 Scottsdale

18320 Scottsdale

Fox, Duthie, and Foose designed this French Norman Master Model Home, which was said to "express the charm of the open country" in Northern France. This was one of two Master Model Homes completely furnished by Sterling & Welch, a Cleveland department store. A 1928 Cleveland Plain Dealer article about the home described the "glow of dignity and comfort" created by the store's decorator, adding that the interior design's "appeal is undeniable when one hears the delighted exclamations of several hundred women who inspect the house daily." Image courtesy of the City of Shaker Heights Planning Department View File Details Page

Asbestos Roofing

Asbestos Roofing

Asbestos roof shingles became popular in the beginning of the 20th-century for their durability and incombustibility. The material was eventually linked to a number of cancers, however. While an asbestos roof in good condition is not considered dangerous, a threat is posed when asbestos becomes unsettled and is breathed in. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Michael Rotman, “Shaker Heights Master Model Homes,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 27, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/430.
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