The ABRAM GARFIELD RESIDENCE is a private home located at 9781 Lake Shore Blvd. in BRATENAHL. Prominent architect, ABRAM GARFIELD and his wife Sarah Grainger Williams were gifted three acres of land by her parents SHERWIN WILLIAMS CO. Co-Founder, Edward Williams and Mary Louise Mason as a marriage gift from their Brightwood property located at 9534 Lake Shore Blvd. In 1897 Garfield designed a three-story 9,200 square-foot Arts and Craft Tudor Revival style home. Phase one of the construction was completed in 1898. Abram and Sarah’s two children Edward Williams Garfield and Mary (Polly) Louise Garfield resided in the home.
The mansion is elegant compared to the simple Colonial and Georgian styles illustrating how styles of domestic architecture changed. Garfield designed the home using ornate half-timber, masonry, stucco veneer, and patterned brick and stonework. The “medieval toned” structure is a combination of Elizabethan, English, Jacobean, and Norman styles. A steep-pitched gabled roof with prominent cross gable, casement windows with diamond glass panes, tall-stacked chimneys, crowned by glazed pots are unique features. Garfield’s travels to England after his graduation from M.I.T. intrigued his interest in the Tudor style.
Between 1913 and 1915 a major addition was added to the east of the original house which included a new entryway, Gothic music room with an organ, third floor suite for son Edward and a renovated room for his daughter Mary. A spiral tower features four protruding winged copper gargoyles. Gas lighting in the home was converted into electric. A new Mouat steam boiler system, built-in vacuum system, phone plus intercoms to communicate with the neighboring Brightwood house, gardener’s cottage, and garages were installed. The main entrance shifted to face towards Lake Erie.
Guests entered the home through a massive four-inch thick oak door into a paneled windowless vestibule. A spacious grand stairway leads to the second floor where four bedrooms, each with its own bath and sitting area or sleeping porch, were located. The first-floor library located near the stairway was a paneled alcove held a glass cabinet used to store Garfield’s architectural drawings of structures he designed. The formal dining room was painted in Sherwin-Williams cream milk paint.
Domestic service areas included the butler’s pantry, kitchen, flower room, maid’s dining room, cook’s pantry, cold room with icebox, and outdoor drying pit. The extensive summer dining room/screened porch opens to a 270-degree panorama of formal English gardens with brick-lined grass walkways.
A brick and stucco wall surrounds the property which includes an open brick and sandstone summer tea house with cedar shingles. The tea house is located on the side of a tennis court on Robison Ave. The stable/garage with second floor sleeping quarters located on the Brightwood property was used by both families. Both properties were connected by a wooden walkway. The Abram Garfield house was featured in Thomas Knight’s 1903 publication: The Country estates of Cleveland Men. Garfield also designed the magnificent Lake Shore Country Club and the Haskell; Dalton; Chisholm; and Allen mansions in Bratenahl. He also enlarged and expanded the Brightwood mansion.
Mary Garfield, husband Dr. William Richard Hallaran and their two children William Garfield and Michael Hallaran resided with their grandparents at the residence. After the death of his wife on 3 February 1945 at the age of 72, Garfield closed his mansion and moved to Cleveland Heights in 1947 with his second wife Grannis Mathers. Mercury Airways President, Ray Peoples Rosenberry and his wife Katherine Grace Meo Cels purchased the home on May 17, 1957.
The Bratenahl Development Corp. launched by John Dempsey III, in 1958 acquired the property on 24 September 1962 to use as a headquarters. Dempsey raised 30 million dollars to build an apartment and townhouse complex on the former Lake Shore Country Club's 19-acre site. The development company later moved to permanent offices in the Bratenahl Place development. In 1990 the Bratenahl Development Corp. dissolved.
The house was converted back into a residence when President and CEO of Technology Management, Inc. Benson Lee and wife, historic preservationist Vicki Lee acquired the home on 16 September 1971. In 1976 the residence was added to the Ohio Historic Inventory.
Today, the home remains an excellent example of Abram Garfield’s unique architectural designs.
WRHS View finding aid for the Abram Garfield Papers.
View finding aid for the Mary Garfield Stanley Brown Papers.
Bratenahl Historical Society. Abram Garfield Residence Walking Tour. (2008).
Cuyahoga County Archives. 9781 Lake Shore Boulevard: Building & street card. (1943).
Matowitz, Tom. Freshwater Cleveland: "Abram Garfield: Known for his grand home designs and public housing developments". (2021).
Ohio Historic Inventory. Abram Garfield Residence. (1976).