BRATENAHL, incorporated as a village in 1903, is a residential community on Lake Erie about 6 miles east of downtown Cleveland. Approx. 4 mi. long and less than 1/2 mi. wide, it occupies 552 acres (less than 1 sq. mi.), surrounded by the city of Cleveland. It was originally part of GLENVILLE and COLLINWOOD. In 1902 residents such as LIBERTY E. HOLDEN, SAMUEL MATHER, and FREDERICK GOFF, mayor of Glenville, opposed the annexation of Glenville by Cleveland. When annexation occurred, they formed an independent village from the portion of Glenville north of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad, extending from GORDON PARK to Coit Rd. In 1906, when Collinwood was annexed, the area from Coit Rd. to E. 140th St. also became part of Bratenahl.
In the mid-19th century, about two dozen families farmed the rural area (see AGRICULTURE), including Charles Bratenahl, who owned land on Lake Erie. The path to his farms from St. Clair Ave. was called Bratenahl Rd. (E. 88th St.). On the lakeshore at Eddy Rd., Charles Coit built a summer hotel known as Coit House. Later this property was the site of the COUNTRY CLUB, opened in 1889. Its 1908 building, which became the Lake Shore Country Club, was razed in 1964 and replaced by the luxury apartment complex Bratenahl Place in 1967. In the late 19th century, some of Cleveland's wealthy families came to the lakeshore during the summer. Living first in elaborately furnished tents and later in summer cottages, many (including the Cornings, Hannas, Boltons, Mathers, Goffs, Ingalls, Haskells, Grassellis, Coits, and Cunninghams) built large mansions on the lakefront. The area was characterized by the tree-lined Lake Shore Blvd. The population of Bratenahl, 690 in 1910, increased to 1,000 by 1920 and 1,350 by 1940. After 20 years with little further change in population, Bratenahl grew more substantially in the 1960s to a peak of 1,613 in 1970.
The segment of MEMORIAL SHOREWAY from E. 72nd St. to E. 140th St., completed in 1941, reinforced Bratenahl’s separation from Glenville to its south. By the late 1940s, as Glenville was beginning its rapid transition from a largely Jewish (see JEWS & JUDAISM) to a predominantly AFRICAN-AMERICAN neighborhood, the Shoreway came to signify a racial boundary. White racism shaped the village’s fight to preserve its independent public school system, which included only a single school serving kindergarten through 8th grade and sent its older students to Lakewood or Euclid High School. In 1968, the Ohio Board of Education instituted a new policy to dissolve all school systems that did not provide high school education. The Board granted Bratenahl a 2-year exemption, but in 1970 it ordered the village’s district to merge with the CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS. At a time when Cleveland’s east-side schools were increasingly African American, Bratenahl mounted repeated appeals to try to preserve its school district, but in 1980 the district finally dissolved.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, new luxury residential developments were begun in Bratenahl. Domo Corp.'s 75-acre Newport Harbor development was approved by Bratenahl Village Council in 1988. The project was unveiled and its Shoreby Club (in Samuel Mather's old mansion, Shoreby) was dedicated in Aug. 1991. The council also approved Richard Fleischman Architects, Inc.'s plan for Breezy Bluff, another residential development to be situated on Lake Shore Blvd. In response to stepped-up development plans, Bratenahl residents petitioned the council in March 1991 for a 6-month moratorium on further development, which was granted. However, the building trend continued, with new projects in mid-1990s including the Colony and Wenden Court. In 1996, concerned residents formed the Bratenahl Land Conservancy (later merged into the Western Reserve Land Conservancy), which created conservation easements along NINE MILE CREEK and Dugway Brook. Another temporary moratorium on development was imposed in 1998; however a new project, Bratenahl Lane, gained approval in the following year. Despite these development projects, the village’s population dropped by more than 25% in the period 1970-2010.
Long insular and relatively homogenous, Bratenahl gradually became more socially diverse. In 1980, 3% of its population was African American, a figure that grew to 15.5% by 2010. In the latter year, 2.5% of the village population was Asian. Some of Bratenahl's residents lived in modest homes along side streets; others resided in the lakefront mansions, including some remaining descendants of the original owners. Bratenahl remains part of the Cleveland Public Schools, but many students attend parochial or private schools. In 2010, the village’s population was 1,197 and was little changed according to a 2019 estimate.
Updated by Mark Souther
Last updated 6/22/2020
Tittle, Diana. A Place Apart: The History of Bratenahl, Ohio. 2015
Tittle, Diana A Place Apart: The History of Bratenahl, Ohio. 2007
See also SUBURBS.