Cozad-Bates House

Anti-Slavery Activism in Cleveland

Arriving in 1807, Cleveland pioneer Andrew Cozad settled in the area east of the city that is known today as University Circle, later establishing what proved to be a successful commercial brick-making business. He and his wife Sally had five children with one of their four sons, Justus, being born to them in 1833. As a young boy Justus was, by his own later admission, a difficult child but quickly realized his life's ambition of becoming a civil engineer and soon committed fully to educating himself. Before long he was employed in a railroading career earning a substantial salary for that time of $60 a month. Justus passed the majority of these earnings on to his father, who invested them into the construction of a house for Justus which he personally completed in 1852.

This house is reputed to have been involved with the Underground Railroad, and if this is in fact the case Justus Cozad could not have been a "conductor," having moved to Nebraska the year after its completion to pursue work in land surveying and not returning permanently to Cleveland until 1862. During those years Justus's brother-in-law's father Andrew Duty resided in the home and while there is no definitive evidence linking him to the aiding of fugitive slaves, certain clues suggest that he likely did. Duty contributed generously to and served as trustee of the Euclid Avenue Congregational Church throughout his life. Congregational churches were known to be largely abolitionist, and a number of Euclid Avenue's members had documented Underground Railroad involvement. Among them were immediate neighbors, the Fords, who owned land all along Euclid Avenue between Doan's Corners and Dugway Brook. Thus, while it may be impossible to confirm that Andrew Duty operated Justus Cozad's house as an Underground Railroad stop, at the very least it can be said that a strong connection exists between the house and the time, place, and people involved in those activities.

When Justus finally returned to Cleveland it was only a year before he moved again, this time to Indianapolis for work. He returned in 1871, completing the Italianate addition to the front of the house the following year. He also entered into the title abstract business but was eventually forced to sell many of his business interests along with his home after his brother Marcus defaulted on a substantial loan that he had extended to him. The house was soon purchased by Justus's daughter Olive and her husband Theodore Bates, however, and Justus moved into a home across East 115th  Street from them. It was here that he lived until his death in 1910, and nine years later both Olive and Theodore also passed away.

After the passing of Olive and Theodore the house was divided into apartments and managed by Bates & Springer Inc., catering to the thriving academic and medical communities of the area for the next sixty-five years. Gaining historic landmark status in 1974, the residence continued to operate as a rooming house until it was purchased by University Hospitals in 1985. After its acquisition by UH, the house sat vacant and neglected for the better part of twenty years before University Hospitals decided to donate the property to University Circle Inc. (UCI) in 2006. Thereafter, the organization Restore Cleveland Hope worked with UCI to transform the Cozad-Bates House into a teaching center that celebrates Cleveland's Underground Railroad history.

Today the house seems rather out of place amongst the towering medical buildings, large parking structures, and high-rise apartment buildings that surround it. However, if you look at the historical circumstances that surround the house it becomes clear why it is located and still standing in the heart of Cleveland's cultural center.


A Community of Abolitionists Joan Southgate describes how the East End in what is now called University Circle was a community of abolitionists in the years leading up to the Civil War. Source: Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection


Cozad-Bates House, 2008
Cozad-Bates House, 2008 With its wide, bracketed roof eaves, arched windows, square cupola, and hipped roof, the Cozad-Bates House is one of the few examples of Italianate architecture remaining in Cleveland. Originating in England and made popular in the United States by prominent nineteenth-century architects Andrew Jackson Downing and Alexander Jackson Davis, the Italianate style enjoyed widespread favor among American designers during the Victorian Era. Source: Christopher Busta-Peck
Justus Cozad
Justus Cozad Original owner of the residence at 11508 Mayfield Road, Justus Cozad barely lived in the house during the first twenty years of its existence due to being employed as a railroad engineer and land surveyor in the West during the first part of his professional life. Image from Samuel Peter Orth, A History of Cleveland Ohio: Biographical Vol. 2
Draft Announcement, 1864
Draft Announcement, 1864 Two years after returning from Nebraska Justus Cozad was drafted into the Union Army. By this time he had become successful enough to hire a substitute to serve in his place and never joined the Union ranks. This draft announcement lists his name at the bottom of the right hand column. Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 10, 1864
Map Showing Location of Cozad Residence, 1858
Map Showing Location of Cozad Residence, 1858 This map from 1858 shows the east end of Cleveland where the Cozad, Ford, and Duty families settled with the red circle highlighting the Cozad-Bates House. The homes of the Fords, who are well documented Underground Railroad conductors, can be seen stretching along Euclid Avenue to the west of the house. Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery of Atlases, Maps, and Park Plans
Theodore M. Bates, 1897
Theodore M. Bates, 1897 Trained as a lawyer and active in politics, Theodore M. Bates was an appraiser on the Cleveland Real Estate Board and served as president of the Cuyahoga Board of Equalization. As a candidate for the Ohio State Senate and member of the Republican Party, Bates was often at odds with legendary Democratic Mayor Tom L. Johnson, particularly over the issue of tax reform. Cleveland Plain Dealer, March 28, 1897
Odell and Cozad Advertisement, 1878
Odell and Cozad Advertisement, 1878 This is an advertisement for the abstract business that Justus Cozad entered with Jay Odell following his return from Indianapolis. Eventually Cozad was forced to sell his interests in the company but remained in the title business, later partnering with his son-in-law to form the Cozad, Belz, & Bates Abstract Co. Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 18, 1878


11508 Mayfield Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106


Joseph Wickens, “Cozad-Bates House,” Cleveland Historical, accessed July 19, 2024,