BELLEFONTAINE, located at 2701 Park Dr. in SHAKER HEIGHTS in the Shaker Heights Historic District, is a 15,000+ square-foot, four-story French Regency style mansion designed by architect JOHN WILLIAM CRESWELL CORBUSIER. SALMON PORTLAND CHASE HALLE built the home between 1927 and 1931. He and his younger brother Samuel founded HALLE BROTHERS DEPARTMENT STORE, a leading brand in Cleveland and the region for almost 90 years.

Corbusier was a preeminent architect of French Gothic revival cathedrals and churches in the eastern United States. Dressed entirely in Indiana limestone with a blue-slate roof, the mansion features elaborate quoins and subtle exterior and interior hints of Art Deco. The structure of the mansion is steel and concrete.

The interiors of the home were designed by the world-famous design firm Jansen, by its lead designer Stephane Boudin, assisted by Henri Samuel. Based in Paris with offices in London, New York, Cairo, Buenos Aires, and Havana, Jansen was known for its ability to combine architectural antiquities and modern interpretations of classical styles to create timeless designs at the pinnacle of elegance and taste. Two of Henri Samuel’s last commissions were for distant-Halle-descendant John Halle Gutfreund’s apartments in New York and in Paris. Samuel also led the restoration of Paris’s Musee Nissim de Cammondo at Susan Gutfreund’s behest.

Salmon Halle became acquainted with Jansen during his annual Halle Bros. purchasing trips to Paris. He would stay at the Ritz Paris at Place Vendome, and visit their offices nearby. The guest suites of the mansion were inspired by period suites at the Ritz, with elaborate baths of exotic marbles.

From the 1920s through the 1980s, Boudin and Samuel between them would design interiors for leading luminaries worldwide: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Doris Duke, the Prince Aga Khan, Valentino, various Rothschilds, the Shah of Iran, etc. Boudin would later assist Jacqueline Kennedy in the 1960s renovation and decoration of the White House. Per the Jansen style, Bellefontaine features extensive antiquities built into its architecture: 18th century boiserie living and dining rooms with period sconces and mantels, massive 16th-century bronze gates, marble fountains, Fragonard overdoor cartouches, and a series of 18th century Francois Boucher tapestries from the Chinoiserie series from the Aubusson factory. Others from this series are found at the Palace of Fontainebleau.

Virtually all the Bellefontaine’s principal Jansen interiors remain in their original condition. Palatial-height ceilings, a foyer paved entirely in Crazannes-Anteor limestone from the Bordeaux region of France, and exquisite antique marble fireplaces and renaissance fire backs were incorporated in each of the palatial interiors. Halle acquired Rodin and Bourdelle sculptures for the home, many of which were donated to the Cleveland Museum of Art, of which Halle was a founding benefactor.

Master architect Tony Paskevich, in conjunction with designer Marissa Mateyasic, designed the interior finishing of the solarium (original exterior design inspired by Malmaison) and underground garage in 2012; the Islamic-themed nightclub, theater and wine vaults in 2013; and the penthouse gymnasium, Cabinet of Curiosities, and butler’s apartment in 2020. The Cabinet of Curiosities was originally the library of the Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion and subsequent penthouse at 1107 Fifth Avenue in New York. The carriage house originally had a large greenhouse for its second floor. The original gardens were commissioned by Jansen in France. Extensive new landscaping plans were executed by Ann Rosmarin from 2013.

Salmon Halle purchased the land in 1926 from Otto Miller (financier to the VAN SWERINGENS, founders of Shaker Heights). The home was featured in an 6 August 1931, edition of Parade magazine.  Salmon Halle passed away in 1949, but the family resided in the mansion until 1965, when Mrs. Halle died. It was then sold to the John Nevin Bauman family (CEO of WHITE MOTOR CORP.), who lived there six years. During the Bauman years, the home hosted Halle’s fashion shows, with Bill Blass and other designers attending.

In 1971, William and Marion Risman purchased the property. They renovated the kitchen, added a tennis court and removed the greenhouse. They invested significantly in the exterior structure and interior HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems.

In 2010, the Rismans donated the estate to the Cleveland Clinic. Via contact from the Rismans, David and Dolores Bauders purchased the mansion from the CLEVELAND CLINIC in 2011. The Bauderses spent the next decade undertaking a comprehensive restoration and upgrade of the property and grounds. General Contractor Residence Artists oversaw the massive restoration of the house, seamlessly blending the new and traditional design materials. Master architect Tony Paskevich, Sculptor Norbert Koehn, Interior Designer Marissa Matijasic, and many other talented professionals restored and improved the property. Decorative plasterwork from the Cleveland-based FISCHER AND JIROUCH was installed to embellish ceilings and crown moldings in many non-Jansen rooms. Antique lighting fixtures taken from the Plaza Hotel in New York, as well as newly commissioned chandeliers from Murano, were added to non-Jansen living spaces in an homage to the Jansen designs.

New landscaping was designed by Anne Rosmarin. Architect Tony Paskevich restored the treillage at the rear tea house garden, and designed several new terraces and fountains. The mansion’s original 18th-century garden sculptures were restored and installed in the solarium.

The restoration work was covered in numerous news and design publications and the Bauderses received the Preservation Award from the City of Shaker Heights in 2012. Bellefontaine is a Shaker Heights landmark.

David Bauders

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