Abandoned mansion and estate in Ohio

Edward and Louise Moore Estate, Mentor Ohio
Date added: February 04, 2023 Categories: Ohio House Mansion Classic Revival
East wing looking west (1986)

The Edward W. and Louise C. Moore Estate (Mooreland), built in 1897-1900 and enlarged in 1906-1907, was the residence of Edward W. Moore, a prominent Cleveland capitalist, most noted for his significance in the establishment of electric railway and interurban lines which facilitated the growth and development of Cleveland suburbs and surrounding communities. The Moore Estate is an excellent intact example of the early pretentious summer residences in Lake County, which spawned the development of the area as a summer community for wealthy Clevelanders during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Moore Estate is an excellent example of Neo-Classical architecture, representing the work of Arthur N. Oviatt and J. Milton Dyer, important local architects.

Edward W. Moore (1864-1928) was a prominent Cleveland capitalist whose accomplishments are well-documented in several Cleveland and Ohio biographical directories published in the early 1900s. Moore is best known for his role as financier, promoter, and builder of electric railway and interurban lines. Joining in partnership with Henry A. Everett, Edward Moore was heavily involved in the development of transportation, electric, and telephone lines during the first two decades of the 20th century. By the early 1900s, the Everett-Moore Syndicate controlled every interurban line radiating from Cleveland, with the exception of the southwestern. They had trolley holdings not only in the city lines, but also in Wheeling, Toronto, Syracuse, Montreal, Winnipeg, and Detroit. Additionally, they merged smaller interurban companies into major lines in both Chicago and Washington, D.C. As one well-known authority on interurban history expressed it: "Nationally known, people invested on their say-so. Newspapers daily told of the latest Everett--Moore Syndicate proposals, and maps appeared telling of interurban proposals to all parts of Ohio." In conjunction with this development, the Syndicate organized or had interests in several electrical and telephone companies, most of which centered in Ohio and Michigan.

One particular Everett-Moore property, the Cleveland, Painesville and Eastern, chartered in 1895, was largely responsible for the transformation of Lake County (particularly the western and central sections) from a relatively inaccessible rural area to a suburban area. It not only provided easy travel for county residents to Cleveland for work and amusement, but similarly opened the cooler and healthier environment of Lake County to city residents. Electricity tapped from the interurban lines, and spawned such amusement parks as Euclid Beach or Luna Park, making Willoughbeach a similar attraction in Lake County. Likewise, the Lake Shore Electric Railway, another Everett-Moore property, launched Avon Beach Park on Cleveland's west side and ran excursions to Crystal Beach and Cedar Point.

As part of this development, several prominent Cleveland industrialists began to purchase acreage in Lake County with the sole purpose of building large country estates (large working farms) where their families could enjoy leisurely summer days in the country, and where their children could learn the Jeffersonian ideals lost in the post-Civil War industrial boom. The interurban lines not only made these areas readily accessible to these families, but also to their friends who would travel to the country for weekend ventures, Saturday night parties, or Sunday morning brunch.

In May 1897, both Everett and Moore bought the Eber Norton farm in Mentor with intentions of building elegant houses on the property's South Ridge. Moore's section (whose ownership he immediately transferred to his wife, Louise Chamberlin Moore) was 154.52 acres on Lots 4, 5, 7, Ward and 43 Tract 3, which he purchased at a cost of $11,589. (The estate remains the property most associated with Edward W. Moore.) Similarly, both Everett and Moore hired Cleveland architect Arthur N. Oviatt to design the estates.

Oviatt, a graduate of Lakewood High School, started his career in Cleveland in 1890 after studying for four years in Boston and New York. Oviatt's specialty was residential and country architectural work. In addition to Everett's and Moore's estate home, he also designed similar Lake County structures for: Herman Van Cleve (a home later owned by Harvey Brown), Horace Andrews (later owned by David Z. Norton), and John Newell (son-in-law of President James Garfield). Mooreland is the only one of these mansions still standing. The Everett home, now the Kirtland Country Club, was redesigned by Cleveland architect Frank B. Meade, and was severely damaged by fire in the 1970s. Existing historic photographs show that these homes were mostly Colonial Revival and Neo-Classical in style. Mooreland is unusual in known Oviatt designs for its "V" shape.

In 1906, Moore hired prominent Cleveland architect, J. Milton Dyer, whose artistic talents had been displayed in the Architectural Record as early as 1904. Dyer was at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland when he attracted the attention of Ambrose Swasey of Warner and Swasey who financed his education at the L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After his 5-1/2 years there, the architect spent one year at Berlin Hoch Schule before returning to Cleveland. Dyer's commercial and industrial projects are well-documented by Eric Johannesen in Cleveland Architecture 1876-1976. Dyer, most prominent for his public buildings, had few residential commissions. In Lake County, Dyer's only documented work is the Lake County Courthouse (completed in 1909). His work to enlarge the Moore Estate was indeed challenging, as he seemed to alter most of the structure's eastern, western, and southern lines, while retaining much of its original Neo-Classical features.

The final landscape plan for the Moore Estate was designed by A. Donald Gray, a landscape architect active in the Cleveland area from 1920 to 1939. Before coming to Cleveland in 1920, Gray had worked briefly with Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in the Olmsted Brothers' Massachusetts firm. He not only designed many private gardens in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights and the suburbs, but is also noted for his work in: the landscape design for the Cedar-Central Apartments (the first federal public housing project in the United States); Forest Hill Park; the Irish garden in Rockefeller Park's Cleveland Cultural Gardens; and the development of the Cleveland Garden Center. The Mooreland Estate is his only known work in Lake County.

Mooreland, though somewhat deteriorated, retains a high degree of integrity as an excellent unaltered example of Neo-Classical residential architecture. A full-height entry porch dominates the unusual V-shaped house. Four fluted colossal ionic columns support a denticulated pediment overhang on the facade, at the apex of the west and southeast wings. The centered entrance is framed by sidelights surrounded with ionic columns and heavy entablature. A balustraded second-floor balcony hangs over the entry. The bays on the wings are divided by pilasters, and topped with a plain architrave and a denticulated cornice with modillions. The extended hip roof is punctuated with pedimented dormers. The monumental scale and unusual plan of this house combine with classical detailing to create an imposing Neo-Classical residential building.

By 1913, Moore had acquired over 1000 acres of land in both Kirtland and Mentor townships with property lines that ran from Mentor Avenue south to the Kirtland Flats, and from Garfield (then Kirtland) Road west to the eastern boundary of Everett's estate. The original estate remained relatively intact until the completion of the present Route 90 in the early 1960s; the interstate highway cut the property approximately in half. Lakeland Community College purchased the remaining acreage from Margaret Moore Clark in 1968.

She retained perpetual use of the house until her death in 1982. The house has been deserted, though protected by the college, since that time. The house stands on a parcel of land on the eastern section of the campus which has been left undeveloped by the college. A new access road to the college was completed by Lakeland in 1986. Although it severely curtails the frontage of the house and the eastern portion of the landscape, it has not disrupted the integrity of either.

Building Description

The significant remains to the Edward W. and Louise C. Moore Estate are confined to the eastern portion of the present Lakeland Community College campus. The property nominated here includes the original estate house, several outbuildings (gazebo, teahouse, hennery, and greenhouse) and the surrounding landscape (pools, pergolas, and formal garden) that was designed by well-known landscape architect, A. Donald Gray. No other outbuildings remain standing in the immediate vicinity, nor are their foundations visible. This section of the property was the focal point of the entire estate and it remains the only portion not yet extensively altered by modern development.

The House: This is a large 2 1/2 story Neo-Classical style residence of wood frame construction whose plan is a broad "V" shape. Its approximate dimensions are 124' x 35' at its widest point. The hipped roof is covered with composition shingles; the foundation is red brick layed in flemish bond.

Exterior: The focal point of the exterior and the section which demonstrates the strongest classical elements, is the two-story portico which faces north. Four massive fluted ionic columns support a dentiled pedimented gable overhang. The tympanum has a wooden keystone on a lunette tracery window. The upper floor has a balcony with turned balustrade. The front door sidelights (with gothic tracery) are framed by engaged ionic columns and each has a heavily entablatured window head with dentils. Two window seats (now detached) sat to the side of these sidelights. A wooden veranda extends from the portico and wraps to the wings. A turned balustrade remains partially intact.

Two wings extend from this entranceway and form a wide "V": one to the southeast (or east) and the other to the west. The east wing is 5 bays long and 4 bays wide; the bays are divided by non-fluted pilasters (added by Dyer in 1906) which extend to the plain frieze and denticulated cornice. A one-story bay projects from the living room. A two-story porch once covered this east wing, but due to extreme deterioration, was torn down c. 1982. The four pedimented dormers on the northeast elevation have paired 9/9 windows; the dormers are not aligned with the bays below. At the west wing is 7 bays long and 3 bays wide. Again, these bays are separated by non-fluted pilasters. A wooden latticed-hipped roof gazebo is located just outside the west-end door. This building is shown in the 1903 photo of the house, with its classical balustrade intact.

The south side overlooks the former formal gardens. At the center of the V is a flat-hipped roof open dormer that faces south, and is accessible through a window on the third-floor attic. The apex of "V" is hidden by a 2 story-enclosed veranda.

A large porch floor that extends south from this veranda is badly deteriorated.

The windows in the house are consistently 12/1 sash with the exception of the first-floor windows to the immediate west of the front entrance which are now covered. These windows are part of the dining room. Attic windows are 9/9.

Interior: As with the exterior, the focal point of the inside is the entrance hall and stairway (see historic photo 1). The stairway, which is framed by fluted columns and features a rail with delicate turned balusters, stops at a landing containing two built-in bench seats. Straight ahead is another small stairway that leads out to the upper loggia. This second stairway was added in 1906. Entrance to the upper floor wings is accessible by turning north after reaching the top of the main stairway. The ceiling molding is heavily dentiled. Above the stairway is a lighted dome which is also heavily dentiled.

First Floor: In the east wing, from the stairway, are the living room and the solarium (from west to east) which are divided by a white-painted brick fireplace. Original light fixtures are still on the walls, though the globes have been removed and stored outside the structure for security reasons. The exposed beams in the living room have been left rough-sawn (circular saw); the beams in the solarium have a smooth finish. The living room is original and the solarium was added in 1906. The west wing (from east to west) contains the dining room and the large kitchen area. Original wallpaper which is printed on heavy paper and depicts a variety of birds in a marshy area, still exists in the dining room. The beams here are similar to those found in the living room. There is also a fireplace and two built-in china closets which are attributed in design to Oviatt. The layout of the kitchen/staff area is shown in the enclosed floor plan. Again, original fixtures minus globes are still on the walls in all these rooms.

Second Floor: The second floor rooms are laid out in suites to allow for a continuous flow from room to room. There is approximately one bathroom for 2 bedrooms. The bathrooms still contain original fixtures which include pedestal sinks (porcelain bowls on cast iron pedestals), and cast iron claw foot bathtubs. In the master bath and in the bathroom which divides two of the children's rooms, there are marble stall showers which are separate from the tubs. The other baths have shower rings extending above the tubs. Medicine chests (wooden) are mostly classically styled with heavy entablatured tops. Floors are tiled, as is the lower half of the walls. The upstairs rooms are relatively plain, though they have high wooden baseboards and decorative window trim. The floors are oak. There are abundant walk-in closets, two of which have safes for valuables. All hallway doors have transoms. There are radiators in each room which range in size from 2 to 6 coils.

Third Floor: The east end of the third floor is a large open room that contained the billiard room and which was also used for storage. (The blueprints label this part of the third floor as "ballroom", but according to those who spoke with Margaret Moore Clark, the family never used the area as such.) Original dormer openings (1897-1900) are still visible. The west end contains several servants chambers and 2 guest rooms, each of which contains a corner sink. A main bathroom is located at the far west side in the end dormer area.

All rooms and bedrooms have a call bell which sounds at one of 3 call box stations in the house. This was of great assistance in identifying specific rooms in the entire house. All in all the decorative detail in the house is plain (except where noted above), which is consistent with the fact that this structure originally served as a summer retreat residence.

For unknown reasons, the Moores hired architect J. Milton Dyer, c. 1906 (the date on the architectural drawings) to enlarge the overall structure. Comparison of the 2 available blueprints shows that Dyer extended the two wings approximately 2 bays each, and extended the south wall outward. Major interior changes occurred mostly in the kitchen and on the 2nd and 3rd floors at that time. Little physical evidence exists to show these structural changes, though the blueprints are available for study. Few alterations have occurred since the family lived at the estate, except for some minor modernization, including electronic security and fire alarm systems which have been added by the college. It still contains the original boiler heating system and most of its 1906 complex electrical wiring system, including the original fuse boxes.

This house remained in the Moore family, who used it as their permanent residence probably from the mid-1930s until 1982. At that time, after the last surviving child of Edward W. and Louise C. Moore (Margeret Moore Clark) died, there was an extensive estate sale. Although most of the furnishings were sold (a complete inventory of items is available), some items were retained or donated to the college. The inventory stated that, as a whole, the furnishings represented the 1910-1920 period, or the "Empire Revival" style. One of the items retained by the college is a Steinway piano which, as claimed by daughter Margaret Clark, was used by Paderewski who used to visit the estate house whenever he was in the Cleveland area. These furnishings are stored by the college outside the house for security reasons.

Only four of the several outbuildings that stood to the west of the estate house still stand on their original sites. Review of the tax assessment records suggests that the farm-related outbuildings were built c. 1910-1911 at a time when the Moores were extending their farm operations.

From 1910-1912 the family acquired an additional 429.85 acres to their already 274.4 acre estate, and completed the construction of at least eleven additional structures. In addition to the hennery and greenhouse, these buildings included: a piggery, playhouse, barn, granary, cow barn, and several tenant houses. Except for the hennery and greenhouse (and the earlier gazebo and the later teahouse), none of these outbuildings remains, nor are their foundations visible.

Hennery: This building is a two story concrete block structure with a one story projection in the rear. The entire structure is 11 bays long and 2 bays wide. The roof is flat and the ashlar block, which is quarry-faced, runs in alternate courses. The front has 6/6 sash windows (8 in number) with stone sills and lintels in the upper floor. The lower section has 9 sets of double wooden doors, with single door entrances at either end. Each door has a 9 pane upper section and wooden panel below. There is one brick interior end chimney on the west side. The upper floor from the south side consists of continuous 6/6 sash windows with a concrete block overhang (or eave). The lower floor has a series double 6/6 sash alternating with single doors (12 pane upper section and wooden lower panel). The sides have no windows or entrances. The area around the hennery is much overgrown and the poultry run located behind (south) the structure is barely visible. No exterior and interior changes to the building itself can be seen.

Greenhouse: This structure consists of three connecting buildings, each of which is different not only in purpose, but also in construction materials. The front section (north) is a clapboard sided gabled wood frame with a brick interior chimney on the south side. Fenestration on the east and west walls is identical. The center section sites on a high concrete block foundation/wall. The individual panes are leaded glass. The rear section (south) might have been constructed for cold storage. It has a dress-faced cement block foundation that rises to door level, and a band of quarry-faced block (at least five courses high) above the door. It is difficult to determine the material used in the gable area under the present siding, though it is quite possible that it, too, is cement block. There are no windows in this part of the structure, except for that shown on the south side. Like the hennery, the area around the greenhouse is much overgrown, which makes accessibility to the structure difficult.

Landscape: This approximately 25 acre tract contains elements of at least three extensive landscape plans incorporated into the overall estate between 1900 and the 1930s. Oviatt's original plans show the various trees planted on the estate at that time. The apple orchard remains intact (taking into account the normal replanting that has occured over time) in its original location.

By 1915, a lawn tennis court and "tennis changing house" or teahouse had been added, shown on the map as an outlined square in lot 5. The teahouse is a small square wooden building topped by a broad pyramidal hip roof with enormous overhanging eaves. There is an extensive formal garden surrounding this building, a variety of plantings, a reflecting pool and benches to the east, and a bird bath to the west. The entire expanse of the formal garden is enclosed naturally with shrubs and small trees, and is highlighted with several square topped steel reinforced concrete columns and pillared gates. A "lane" is formed of hedges and trees near the garden. The area is badly overgrown, but seasonal inspection indicates the existence of several varieties of plantings. Noted 1920s and 30s Cleveland landscape architect A. Donald Gray designed a landscape plan for the estate, but the influence/implementation of this plan (which still exists) will not be clear until the plans are compared with current conditions.

Other features included in the present landscape are: the pool and pergola to the east of the mansion; a large pergola/outdoor ballroom located to the south and east of the house; the rose garden with fountain; and a variety of steel-reinforced concrete pergolas similar to that found at the pool area, located to the east and south of the formal gardens. From the back of the house and extending southward, there is a wide lane which is lined with a variety of shrubbery and flowering trees (predominately wisteria.) The entire expanse described above is dotted with several types of plantings (i.e., chinese chestnut, wisteria, flowering crab, rhododendron, azalea, etc).