CLE Restoration Society celebrates the projects that preserve the region’s architectural history

Turn down any city street in Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods, and you’re bound to encounter different architectural styles that depict various historic periods in the city’s 224-year history.

Cleveland’s unique story is told, at least in part, through the historic buildings that individuals and organizations have restored, re-imagined, and rebuilt.


The Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS), in conjunction with the American Institute of Architects Cleveland Chapter, will acknowledge these efforts with its annual Celebration of Preservation Awards on Friday, July 10 at 4 p.m..


“This year’s awards are a diverse representation of the remarkable building stock found in Cleveland and the surrounding region,” says Margaret Lann, CRS manager of preservation services.


The celebration honors 10 projects this year, which run the gamut in both scope and size—from rehabbing a small commercial building to preserving an entire neighborhood street.


“The 2020 Celebration of Preservation features an interesting mix of award-winning buildings, including residential structures, small commercial buildings, and mausoleums,” says Lann. “Several awards highlight challenging adaptive use projects in urban areas, and one that is situated in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”


The event is normally held in Playhouse Square, but because of the coronavirus, the Celebration of Preservation goes online this year and will be broadcast on CRS’ Facebook page and YouTube channel.


Registration for the event is required.


The pandemic struck just as our jury was beginning to review nominations,” explains Lann of the change. “It took some creativity, but the jury members were able to adjust their process and complete in-depth reviews of the nominations while adhering to health and safety guidelines.”


While the celebration will be pre-recorded, CRS officials will be available, live, on both virtual channels to respond to questions and comments from the viewers.


“Viewers will still get to enjoy the story the buildings have to share, see the remarkable renovations and adaptations they have been through, and hear from the award winners—yet do so from the comfort of their own homes as we gather together virtually,” explains Lann.


History fans will have to wait until July 10 to see the full list of winners unveiled, but Cleveland Restoration Society gave FreshWater Cleveland a sneak peek at some of the winners.


The AthlonAward of Excellence in Rehabilitation: The Athlon

The entire city mourned when the beloved Cleveland Athletic Club abruptly closed in 2007. But in 2016 Joe DiGeronimo, vice president of Precision Environmental, and a group of development partners in 2011 began making plans for the 1911 landmark building at 1118 Euclid Ave.


DiGeronimo and his team began work converting the 15-story white terra cotta and brick building into The Athlon—a 163-apartment and suites residential complex in the heart of downtown. The first tenants began moving into the Athlon in February 2019.


The project involved both interior and exterior renovations, as well as replacement and repair of the historic windows, masonry work, and renovation of the historic storefronts.


Gund Brewing-Scott Drug BuildingRestoration of a Small Commercial Building

Breweries are not a new thing to Ohio City neighborhoods. The 1860 Gund Brewing/Scott Drug Building has a long history on West 25th Street.


George F. Gund was president of Seattle Brewing and Malting before coming to Cleveland and buying the Jacob Mall Brewing Company and renaming it the Gund Brewing Company.


The three-story building had retail on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors before it eventually became retail space and then became mostly vacant when it was acquired by TEG Properties in 2015.


The building was near structural collapse when LDA Architects began designing renovations on the building, which required extensive masonry repair. Much of the building was rebuilt by hand with the original brick.


Most of the original windows had been replaced long ago, so those were replaced with aluminum-clad wood windows. The few remaining original windows were matched with a mutin pattern.


The ground floor retail saw modest improvements for tenants and new signage, while the upper floors required new stairs to accommodate five apartments. A roof deck that overlooks the West Side Market was added as well.


Today the first floor retail is home to a Cleveland Candle Company store and Love Threading.


WJ Morgan Mausoleum Preservation Partnership Award

Lake View Cemetery is known for its beauty and for being the final resting place for some of Cleveland’s most renown people—President Janes A. Garfield, mogul John D. Rockefeller, and Cleveland public safety director and prohibition agent Eliot Ness.


But the structures that memorialize those who are buried in the cemetery are also subject to Northeast Ohio’s harsh weather. As part of its regular maintenance schedule, Lake View called upon Cleveland Building Restoration and 10 apprentices in the Bricklayers Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee to restore the W. J. Morgan and Pollock mausoleums brick by brick.


Under the supervision of master masons, the apprentices learned from some of the best stone and brick laborers in the city, and they worked on some intricate facades in a setting that allowed them to take the time necessary to perfect some of their restoration techniques.


Years of smog, pollution, and biological growth had taken its toll. They were originally brilliantly white and gray buildings, but the pollutants, mold, and mildew stained the brick and stone a dingy black. So, the first order of business was tuckpointing, caulking, and restoration to help preserve the brick before further deterioration could occur. The apprentices then sealed the mausoleums to prevent further deterioration.


Fenway ManorRenovation of Historic Housing Award

The 1922 Fenway Manor at the intersection of Stokes Boulevard and Euclid Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its physical character and history in University Circle’s 1920s Doan's Comers commercial and entertainment district.


Now a place for affordable senior apartments, the Orlean Company and City Architecture wanted to maintain the affordable housing while updating the building.


Fenway Manor's renovation included modernizing the interior while ensuring exterior renovations retain or replicate historic detailing. The building's roof was replaced. Historic masonry details—including the replication and repair of historic terra cotta cornice and ornamental components—retained the building's character.


Historically accurate replacement windows flood the interior with natural light while adding insulated glazing to reduce heating and cooling costs.


The historic ballrooms and grand lobby were updated, and accessibility improvements were made, and a sprinkler system and emergency generator were installed.


Apartment units received new appliances, bathrooms, and finishes. Many units’ kitchens were opened to the living spaces—providing open floor plans that support and reflect modern living patterns.


Kensington Building on Lee Rd. in Cleveland Heights Award of Merit for Neighborhood Impact

The Kensington Lee commercial building at 2234-2260 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights was part of the city’s Storefront Renovation Program. The building owners and city officials spent four years planning and renovating the 14 tenant spaces, 12 of which face Lee Road, to restore the strip to its historic 1920s character.


The Kensington Lee building was developed in 1928 by Kenyon V. Painter, who invested in a few local real estate developments and was the son of John Vickers Painter, a wealthy banker and associate of John D. Rockefeller. Construction was done by Brazee Builders, a local family-owned building company that was involved in both residential and commercial projects.


The Painter family is well-known for the estate they built as a summer home, at the corner of Lee and Fairmount Boulevard, now home to Beaumont School.


The project included restoring windows and masonry cleaning and patching, removal of concreate ball finials that were not part of the original design and installing pedestrian-scaled signage.


Original storefront window systems were repaired and painted; new historically inspired aluminum full-lite doors were installed to replace 1960s-era doors that functioned poorly.


The plywood siding on the south side of the building, along Kensington and Lee at Kensington Pub, was replaced with new Low-E insulated aluminum and glass transom storefront windows in keeping with the building’s original design.


New pedestrian-scaled projecting signs were installed and coordinated with a new paint scheme shared by all the storefronts.


Register for the online Celebration of Preservation by liking CRS’ Facebook page subscribing to the organization’s YouTube channel, or click here to register.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.