Frederic William Striebinger, hometown architect, designer of stunning landmark homes

Frederic William Striebinger was a part of Cleveland’s architectural scene for more than 40 years with activity stretching from the turn of the 20th Century through 1940. He was a native Clevelander, born in the city on April 22, 1870.

Apart from periods of study in New York City and Paris Striebinger lived and worked in Cleveland until his death on September 30, 1941.

Striebinger received his early education in the Cleveland Public Schools, but an interest in painting led him to New York to study under William Merritt Chase in 1889.

Striebinger is believed to be the first aspiring architect from Cleveland to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris (the top school for architects studying Beaux Arts style in the late 19th Century), where he lived from 1891 to 1896.

He was recognized as an accomplished classical artist. While his body of work was not unusually large his buildings have had a high survival rate and they include some of Cleveland’s most remarkable structures.

Tremaine-Gallagher House, 3001 Fairmount Boulevard, Cleveland Heights 1966 His Tremaine-Gallagher House located at 3001 Fairmount Blvd. in Cleveland Heights is one of the regional gems—arguably one of the finest residential buildings conceived and executed in the Cleveland area.

Renowned for the varied and eclectic design of its interiors, the house is regarded as an outstanding example of Beaux Arts Classicism. The structure was designed and built for Henry A. Tremaine—who made his fortune promoting his business that eventually became the lamp division of General Electric at Nela Park.

The home was completed in 1914, but just three years later Tremaine opted to sell the house and its furnishings to Michael Gallagher for the then-astronomical sum of $ 350,000—making it one of Cleveland’s most expensive residences at the time. This sum would equal approximately $7.5 million in today’s money.

Another noteworthy surviving example of Stiebinger’s work is the former home of Great Lakes shipping magnate Harry Coulby, who was known as the “Czar of the Great Lakes” and managed the Pickands Mather & Company, the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, and Interlake Steamship fleets.  
Coulby’s house at 28730 Ridge Road in Wickliffe was constructed over a two-year period beginning late in 1912. Originally named “Coulallenby,” the house has been the Wickliffe City Hall since 1954.

Coulby Mansion Courtesy of City of Wickliffe

Never allowed to fall into disrepair, the house survives intact—a gratifying example of the successful adaptive reuse of an historic structure and something that does great credit to the city of Wickliffe. The Coulby Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 1979

It is said that Coulby had the trees on his estate trimmed so they did not obstruct his view of the ships he managed from the windows of his home.

A native of England who maintained strong ties with his home country, Coulby died unexpectedly in London during a visit in January 1928 at the aged of 64. He was buried in a country churchyard in the town where he was born.

Striebinger was an active Freemason in Cleveland as a 32nd Degree Mason and a Knight Templar. Because he was a member of these organizations, Striebinger was commissioned to design several Masonic Halls in the area.

The House of Wills, ca.1940sAnother surviving Striebinger design is the House of Wills funeral home on E. 55th Street—today rumored to be haunted with seasonal tours of the infamous mansion.

Active as architect until the last months of his life, Striebinger died after a brief illness and went to join many of his peers in Lake View Cemetery.

Read more articles by 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.