The Van Sweringens' Inglewood

The famed Van Sweringen brothers, known for developing Shaker Heights, envisioned an architect-designed neighborhood rubbing shoulders with three grand estates in the countryside of Cleveland Heights. The resulting neighborhood, now the Inglewood Historic District, attracted doctors, lawyers, industrialists and others to its finer homes nestled on large wooded lots.

The Van Sweringens purchased the forty-one acres for this development from Charles Pack in 1920 through their Shaker Heights Development Company. Like all of their deed covenants, the Van Sweringens outlined strict rules that guaranteed a high level of construction and residents. All the single-family homes had to be architect designed in English Tudor, French or Colonial styles, with no two exactly alike. Prominent Cleveland architects such as Howell and Thomas, Walker and Weeks, Charles, Schneider, Bloodgood Tuttle and Abram Garfield worked on homes in the neighborhood.

Essential to the success of the neighborhood were sales to upper middle-class clientele, whom the company called "selected people of culture and refinement." Promotional materials for Inglewood described it as "a select neighborhood for Finer Homes, a natural Park of Great Beauty ... Hemmed in by the splendid Severance, Prentiss and Gownlock estates, its character is established, itself a beautiful park, shaded by lovely trees and commanding a view of Lake Erie for many miles, Inglewood has long been the residence site most envied by Clevelanders." The neighborhood attracted leading members of Cleveland society, including noted attorneys, businessmen, a newspaper publisher, professors, businessmen and many others. Over the years, the neighborhood acquired the nickname "Pill Hill" because of the number of medical personnel living in Inglewood (in part to its close proximity to Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Case Medical School).

The Inglewood Historic District maintains the original beauty and parklike setting of the original development. Since the original estates surrounding Inglewood have since been developed into commerical and residential areas, many visitors are surprised to find this pocket of lovely homes just off Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights.

Images

Inglewood Tudor

Inglewood Tudor

Many Inglewood homes, including this impressive Tudor Revival example, seem as though they were lifted right out of Shaker Heights, and indeed the Van Sweringens' Shaker Heights Improvement Company sought to replicate its success on a smaller scale in this neighborhood in northern Cleveland Heights. Image courtesy of Diana Wellman View File Details Page

Garden City Design Principles

Garden City Design Principles

The F. A. Pease Engineering Company created lots in the usual Garden City manner with varying sized lots on the curving and wooded streets of Oakridge, Inglewood, Quilliams, Glenwood, Cleveland Heights and Yellowstone. The Garden City ideal originated in England in the 1890s and inspired countless planned communities and suburban developments on both sides of the Atlantic. Image courtesy of Mazie Adams View File Details Page

Longwood Estate, Side Garden

Longwood Estate, Side Garden

Location, location, location: The Van Sweringen brothers developed Inglewood along the Mayfield Road interuban line and adjacent to the estates of three prominent Clevelanders: Elisabeth Severance Allen's Glen Allen, Julia Severance Millikin's Ben Brae and John L. Severance's (builder of Severance Hall) Longwood estate, pictured here. Other nearby amenities included public and private schools, police and fire departments and Cumberland Park. Image courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights View File Details Page

Inglewood Ad, 1920s

Inglewood Ad, 1920s

This early advertisement by the Shaker Heights Improvement Company, which also subdivided other sections of Cleveland Heights, extols the virtues of Inglewood. Note that this pitch focuses both on natural amenities and manmade improvements, bringing city conveniences to the scenic borderlands popularized by the likes of the Severances with their country villas in the Heights. Image from Plain Dealer View File Details Page

Oakridge Pond, 1940s

Oakridge Pond, 1940s

The Inglewood historic district features many original features, including pools, fountains, landscaped beds and stone walls. Inglewood comprises 83 single family homes of several value levels in a parklike setting. An early ad enthused, "Nothing adds so much to the comfort or appearance of a HOME as a setting of shade trees. What distinguishes Inglewood from other subdivisions is the splendid growth of sade trees-real shade trees." Image courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights View File Details Page

Oakridge Garden, 1940s

Oakridge Garden, 1940s

The back yards of three homes, including 1255 Oakridge, are believed to be landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers. The woods behind these lots are landscaped with winding stone steps, outdoor fireplaces, fountains and waterfalls. Image courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights View File Details Page

Prentiss House, 1940s

Prentiss House, 1940s

1255 Oakridge was built for Lucretia Prentiss, whose cousin lived nearby on the Glen Allen estate. Designed by Charles S. Schneider in the Colonial Revival style, the house includes an elevator and two secret hiding places for valuables. Image courtesy of City of Cleveland Heights View File Details Page

Elevation, 1305 Yellowstone West

Elevation, 1305 Yellowstone West

Colonial Revival is the most prevalent style throughout the neighborhood. This style accentuates the front door, has a symmetrical facade and double hung windows with a center-hall plan for the interior. George Johnton designed 1305 Yellowstone for F.O. Douglas in the Colonial Revival style in 1926. Image courtesy of Diana Wellman View File Details Page

Oldest House in Inglewood

Oldest House in Inglewood

The first house completed in the neighborhood, 1334 Inglewood embodies all the ideals of the Shaker Heights Improvement Company. An ad for the property explained that the house, located "opposite J.L. Severance Estate," included a "large living room and dining room; sun room; center hall...large closets for each room and built-in wardrobe...servant's large room and bath [and an] attached double garage with hot water, drains, light and heat." The home is "located on large wooded lot, in highly restricted section, surrounded by the highest class residential property on the Heights." Image courtesy of Mazie Adams View File Details Page

Dr. Spock of Inglewood

Dr. Spock of Inglewood

Dr. Benjamin Spock, one of the country's leading pediatricians, lived at 1285 Inglewood from 1956 to 1958 during his twelve-year stint as a professor of Child Development at Case Western Reserve University. He is best known for his 1946 book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, which has been translated into 39 languages and sold over 50 million copies. View File Details Page

Mary O. Boyle

Mary O. Boyle

Along with Dr. Benjamin Spock, another famous inhabitant of 1285 Inglewood was Mary O. Boyle. Mrs. Boyle served as a state legislator representing Cleveland Heights and was the first female Majority Whip in the Ohio House of Representative. Later, she served on the Board of County Commissioners of Cuyahoga County. View File Details Page

Audio

Inglewood Sales Pitch

Diana Wellman describes a Van Sweringen ad for Inglewood in Town Topics. View File Details Page

Plans and Specs

Diana Wellman recalls an interesting discovery in her research of Inglewood for a National Register of Historic Places nomination. View File Details Page

Olmsted Gardens

Diana Wellman describes picturesque walls, fountains, and pools designed behind Oakridge Drive homes by the famed Olmsted Bros. landscape firm. View File Details Page

Homesite Dynamite

Diana Wellman recounts a story told by one of Inglewood's original homeowners about how builders using dynamite and teams of horses to prepare basements for the development's houses. View File Details Page

End of an Era

Diana Wellman talks about the Van Sweringens' increasing fixation on collecting railroads, which led to their downfall. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Mazie Adams, “The Van Sweringens' Inglewood,” Cleveland Historical, accessed June 28, 2017, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/520.

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