The History of Cleveland’s 'Millionaires' Row'

Ralph DiMatteo History

Rockefeller mansion Cleveland Ohio

As with any city, there are lost gems due to a variety of reasons, but it is usually due to an ever-changing landscape, and always in the name of progress.

But in Cleveland, Millionaires' Row, the area that ran from East Ninth Street to roughly East 55th Street, remains a fond reminder of a time when Cleveland was considered second to none when it came to world-class residences.

The Rise and Fall of Cleveland's 'Millionaires' Row'

Even though the last of this incredible, continuous row of homes with immaculate grounds were pretty much gone by the late 1930s, these magnificent structures were often compared to those on Fifth Avenue in New York in the period known as New York’s Gilded Age.

The impressive structures even became an opportunity to promote tourism to the grand city and were easily the most exclusive and sought-after addresses in the city.

The structures sat well back off the road, were picture-perfect landscaped at all times, and had unique designs and styles along with impressive and sometimes imposing gates that represented the overall importance of the owners.

You might think it was economic downturn that began the grand area’s demise, but it actually was commercial progress that began to force Cleveland’s money further out of the downtown district. This effort to attract shoppers and businesses to downtown created quite a bit of traffic and commotion that made the area much less exclusive.

Of particular interest we found is the fact that after homes were left as owners headed for the suburbs, none were ever occupied again as single-family homes. In some cases, the mansions were so large they became impossible to maintain and began to be utilized as rooming houses and even parking lots. The last of the area in the '50s made way for what is now the Innerbelt though downtown.

The largest house that went up was owned by Standard Oil co-founder Samuel Andrews. Started in 1882 and finished in 1885 on the corner of East 30th, it was one hundred rooms of sheer elegance that sadly was empty by 1898.

The last of the strip’s 40 mansions was built in 1910 for Samuel Mather and was also the most expensive because of the use of handcrafted stone.

It may be sad to think that such beauty may be gone forever, but you’ll be glad to know the Mather home managed to escape being demolished and is part of Cleveland State University, while one of the earliest-built mansions in 1863, The Stager-Beckwith, was bought and repurposed in 2014 by the Cleveland’s Children’s Museum.

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