Moyenage: a grand lakefront home to many prominent Cleveland business founders throughout history

One of the grandest houses on a street filled with grand houses is Moyenage—from the French term “of or related to Medieval times”—located on the north side of Lakeshore Boulevard in Bratenahl.

Conceived in the early 20th Century and standing strong well into the 21st Century, this imposing 1904 Elizabethan Tudor brick house has sheltered several of Cleveland’s most notable business families.

12725 Lake Shore Boulevard 12725 Lake Shore Boulevard "Moyenage"The Moyenage legacy started with iron and steel manufacturer Jay Morse, a Pickands Mather & Co. partner. The house was then home to George Martin, a self-made man who rose to head the Sherwin-Williams Company before his death in 1944.

The house then became home to James Rand, a prolific inventor and scientist whose ideas had wide-ranging benefits.

The house is as remarkable as its history. Designed primarily by Jarvis Hunt, a Chicago architect responsible for the design of Morse’s Chicago residence and hired to duplicate that home in Bratenahl. The plans were finalized by noted Cleveland architect Charles Schweinfurth, who signed the drawings that remain with the house to this day.

The interior woodwork is dramatic, including both hardwood floors and a unique divided staircase leading to the family bedrooms on the second floor.

The house has seen loving care throughout its life and survives today—changed little from its original design, despite multiple changes in ownership during its long life.

The location is striking. Visitors enter the property through a gate in an imposing brick wall, passing a substantial gatehouse on the left. A long curving drive leads to the front door facing Lakeshore Boulevard.

The lake side of the house is equally impressive. The building is sited on a low bluff with a commanding view of the lake, overlooking what was once the site of a swimming pool.

The house is a wonderful example of the adage, “If these walls could talk…”

If they could, the story would start with the story of Jay Morse in the mid-19th Century.

Jay MorseJay MorseJay Morse

Tracing its origins to the Civil War, the concept of the Pickands, Mather & Co. began in the imagination of a Union army officer in the waning days of the conflict. James S. Pickands finished the war as Colonel of the 124th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Remarkably, his predecessor was Colonel Oliver Hazard Perry Payne, another young man from Cleveland destined to earn immense wealth in the business world.

Pickands returned from the war determined to make something of himself. He moved to Marquette, Michigan on the state’s upper peninsula and opened a hardware store supplying needed equipment for the mining industry. The business prospered quickly.

Morse, another ambitious young man from the Cleveland area, also found his way to Marquette. Morse was destined to play an important role in Pickands’ future.

By the early 1880s industrialist Samuel Mather had also recognized the fortune to be made supplying iron ore to the steel mills ringing the Great Lakes.

Pickands, Mather & Company was officially formed in 1882 and quickly came to play a large role in the shipping industry—establishing Interlake Steamship Company to haul iron ore to its customers.

Interlake was one of the largest fleets on the lakes by the mid-1920s, managed very capably by Harry Coulby, who built an estate in Willoughby sited purposely to give him a view of his ships passing on Lake Erie.

After an interval living in Chicago, Morse decided in 1902 to move to Cleveland to be near his business partners. He purchased land in Bratenahl, and construction of a new house on Lakeshore Boulevard began.

Jarvis Hunt
A native of Vermont, Jarvis Hunt was born August 6, 1863. He attended both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to obtain his formal training as an architect.

He had a strong interest in golf and played well enough to be considered for the 1904 U.S. Olympic team. In later life several of his most notable design projects were clubhouses for important golf courses.

Hunt was based in the Monadnock Building in Chicago but pursued projects across the Midwest—covering a wide range of genres, from office buildings to railroad stations, to elaborate private homes.

It is worth noting that Hunt was a nephew of Richard Morris Hunt, one of America’s most renowned architects practicing in the late 19th Century.

Morse House interiorMorse House interiorWhen Morse moved to Chicago to enter the steel industry, Jarvis Hunt designed a new home for him. Known as the House of Seven Gables, it is located in Wheaton, Illinois.

Morse was so pleased with the house that when he returned to Cleveland to live near his partners, he commissioned Hunt to design a replica Seven Gables in Bratenahl.

For unknown reasons, possibly because Hunt wasn’t licensed to practice in Ohio, Moyenage is often attributed to Charles Schweinfurth, whose name appears on plans that have remained with the house for nearly 120 years.

It is sometimes reported erroneously that Schweinfurth took over the project due to Hunt’s death, but Hunt outlived Charles Schweinfurth by more than two decades.

Jarvis Hunt retired to his home in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1927 and died there at the age of 77 early in the summer of 1941.

Charles Schweinfurth
By the turn of the 20th Century Charles Schweinfurth was Cleveland’s best-known architect. Indeed, he is said to be the first Cleveland architect to achieve a national reputation. His involvement with Moyenage is important, but the specific details remain unclear.

The house shows every earmark of having been designed by Jarvis Hunt. Nevertheless, the extensive collection of architectural drawings that have remained with the house since it was constructed are all signed by Charles Schweinfurth.

It has been suggested that this is because Hunt was not licensed to practice in Ohio, making it necessary to have a local architect as the architect of record.

After the passage of nearly 120 years the true answer may never be known.

George A. Martin, President Sherwin-Williams Co., center at an award ceremony in 1938	George A. Martin, President Sherwin-Williams Co., center at an award ceremony in 1938 George Martin
George Martin was a prominent Cleveland industrialist whose impact extended far beyond the business world. Notable as a patron of the arts, he was also instrumental in the decision to select the very young Lou Boudreau to manage the Cleveland Indians, putting the team on a direct path to win the 1948 World Series.

A native of Wisconsin, Martin moved to Chicago with his family at the age of seven.
At the age of 12, he left school to take a job as a messenger. He did not abandon his education, going to night school for years.

By the late 1880s he worked as a salesman of paint products to the railroad industry. Frustrated by the success of a competitor, he decided to learn more about the company. This led to a meeting with Henry Sherwin, a founding partner of Sherwin-Williams.

By 1891 Martin was employed by Sherwin-Williams. In 1915 he came to the company’s headquarters in Cleveland in positions of increasing responsibility. He rose steadily through the ranks, becoming president and chairman of the board of directors.

Martin purchased Moyenage from the estate of Seville Morse in 1928, maintaining its status as the residence of a Cleveland business leader. Martin remained in the house for the rest of his life, dying in 1944 after 16 years in residence there. He died in November 1944 after a brief illness.

He was survived by his widow, the former Emma Regina Rehberg, whom he had married at the turn of the century, and a son, George Jr.

James H. RandJames H. RandJames Rand
One of the most remarkable people to call Moyenage home was James H. Rand.

Born in Pelham, New York in 1913, he was a child prodigy. At age of 13 Rand ran away from Peekskill Military Academy on the grounds that it wasn’t challenging enough. He got as far as Cleveland where he spent two weeks in a Salvation Army shelter before being discovered, sent home, and returned to the military school, where he finished the four-year course in two years.

After studying in Berlin and Vienna, Rand returned to the U.S. and enrolled as a student at the University of Virginia. He adopted two different identities to study for a B.A. and a medical degree at the same time.

Rand was a prolific inventor. He perfected more than 100 inventions by age 40. Most of them involved advances in medicine and products that made people’s lives easier.

He also had a remarkable record in World War II. Beginning as a member of the French Resistance, Rand trained as a pilot and served in the OSS. His interest in science manifested itself in work with guided missiles. He flew the airplane that carried the first guided missile deployed as a weapon by the allies. He finished the war as a Lt. Colonel.

Moving to Bratenahl in 1947, Rand set up a laboratory in a servant’s house across the street from his new home.

He served as president of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in the early 1950s. He continued his scientific research but it came to meet with controversy—encountering business reversals and promoting a controversial cancer vaccination.

Rand’s later life saw him confronting serious health problems. Diagnosed with diabetes at age 38, he later also had a pacemaker implanted.

His first marriage ended in divorce. He remarried in 1975. After a cancer diagnosis, Rand used his own cancer vaccine on himself to no avail. He died of the disease in November 1978. Rand’s eventful life had lasted just 65 years. He lies buried in Lake View Cemetery next to his second wife, Martha Maud Osborne.

12725 Lakeshore Blvd Gardeners Cottage12725 Lakeshore Blvd Gardeners CottageGardeners Cottage
An important part of the Morse House story is located directly across the street from the home. Also attributed to Schweinfurth, the cottage was built in 1905 to serve as a residence for the estate’s gardener. It is far more substantial than the typical servant’s residence of that day.

During James Rand’s ownership of the property, the cottage as a laboratory for his scientific experiments.

Due to the size of the lot it stands on, it was later deemed to be a condominium and serves that role today, its appearance barely changed since it was built more than a century ago.

Other owners
Subsequent owners included John Belker and Michael Spack who ran a highly regarded antique dealing business. Purchasing the house in 1969, their tenure lasted 16 years.

Kenneth Spano and his wife Christine acquired the house in 1985 and lived in it for the next 34 years. The current owners, Peter and Maureen O’Neill, purchased the house in October 2019.

All these owners have something important in common: a reverence for the building and a commitment to respect its integrity and preserve it for the future.

About the Author: Tom Matowitz

Recently retired after a 37-year career teaching public speaking, Tom Matowitz has had a lifelong interest in local and regional history. Working as a freelance author for the past 20 years he has written a number of books and articles about Cleveland’s past. He has a particular interest in the area’s rich architectural history.

Angelina Bair
Angelina Bair

About the Author: Angelina Bair

Architectural historian Angelina Bair holds a master’s degree in library & information science from Kent State University. She has 16 years of experience working in archives, museums, and libraries and specializes in local architectural, historical, and genealogical research. Bair is currently working on a graduate certificate in historic preservation at Cleveland State University Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.