The intersection of Taylor and Mayfield roads in Cleveland Heights is nothing like it was 100 years ago. In the early 20th century, both roads were narrow but long-established country thoroughfares. Dense, old-growth foliage bordered much of the intersection. But the properties on three of those corners were hardly vacant. Indeed, this corner was home to four large country estates owned by leading Cleveland industrialist families.
The intersection's northwest quadrant comprised the outermost reaches of an estate owned by John D. Rockefeller. On the southeast quadrant stood Longwood, a 125-acre estate built in 1911 by John L. Severance, an early partner of Rockefeller and the primary benefactor of Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra. The intersection's northeast corner actually included two grand properties. Ben Brae, the home of Dr. Benjamin Millikin and Julia Severance Millikin, was built in 1913. Immediately to the east of Ben Brae was Glenallen.
The Glenallen estate was constructed in 1915 by the recently widowed Elisabeth Severance Allen, John L. Severance's sister. Both Glenallen and Ben Brae had been in the family for several decades, serving as summer retreats for relatives living on Euclid Avenue. The site of these two estates later became the Jewish Community Center, followed by Lutheran East High School. More recently, the Bluestone townhouse development has taken shape on parts of the old estate.
Designed by the renowned architect Charles Schweinfurth, Glenallen evoked the English manor style. Like Longwood and Ben Brae, it was mostly brick, with stone detailing and a combination of gabled and flat roofs. An ornate metal and glass awning framed the home's entryway. Inside, the walls were hung with French tapestries, important paintings and rare prints. Extensive formal gardens surrounded much of the 45-acre property.
The house was demolished in 1945, one year after its owner's death. However, there are a surprising number of remnants, including the stone wall that runs along Mayfield Road and the stone pier at the southeast corner of the Lutheran East property. Several complete structures also survive, most notably an old farmhouse at 3555 Birch Tree Path.
Early Cleveland Heights had no shortage of great estates but, unfortunately, a great majority including Glenallen have fallen to the wrecker's ball. Thus it is only though stories, pictures and the recollections of a few seniors that we are able to enjoy the tremendous beauty and architectural brilliance of these magnificent homesteads.