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.