Built in 1920 as the dream home of Warren Bicknell, president of Cleveland Construction, and designed by Cleveland architectural firm, Meade and Hamilton, this reproduction 17th-century Jacobean English manor house is located in the historic Ambler Heights district of Cleveland Heights. The opulent abode included 18 fireplaces, a massive oak door with wooden carvings, an incredible ballroom on the third floor and a sunken garden designed by Central Park landscape architect, Frederick Olmsted. The home cost Bicknell $400,000 to build.
The brick and sandstone gabled Tudor was home to spectacular garden parties attended by Cleveland’s elite, many of whom lived in the neighborhood. It was a fitting lifestyle for Bicknell whosecompany built Cleveland Public Library and the Palace Theater. Interestingly enough, a “secret” staircase led from one corner of the living room to the master bedroom above and the wine cellar and billiard room below, perhaps an escape route from the numerous festivities.
In 1939, the non-profit Baptist Home of Northern Ohio purchased the mansion, and, over the years, as the organization expanded, added numerous additions, eventually becoming known as Judson Park retirement community in 1974.
Fast-forward to the late 1990s: Judson painstakingly transformed the historic home into seven spacious independent living suites—all with modern conveniences including in-suite laundry. Where the demands of security required changes, they were made as unobtrusively as possible. Many of the original features remain throughout, such as the grand staircase, various lighting fixtures, paneled walls, carved woodwork, leaded-glass windows and fireplaces. In fact, the intricate carving in the grand staircase, fireplaces, and paneled walls was the work of carvers imported from Holland who actually lived in the house as it was being built.
The leaded-glass windows have been restored or rebuilt to the original design. In the case of the two doors leading from the outside and through the foyer to the reception hall, the inner door was moved to the outside and the outside door was replaced with a new security door. The original outside door, a magnificent work of art itself, is on display on the first floor. An original elevator was rebuilt with interior paneling, chandelier, mirrors, and interior accordion doors.
Fronting the Mansion Courts outdoors are the Florence Cellar Gardens. Created by the Pattie Group in 1995, the magnificent and peaceful layout includes a curving pathway that leads to a lovely waterfall and pond. Reminiscent of an English estate, it offers a quiet retreat and contrast to the nearby bustling University Circle cultural district.
Judson’s overall renovation and the subsequent customizations by its new residents earned The Mansion Courts the 1998 Preservation Award from the prestigious Cleveland Restoration Society.
Today, The Mansion Courts is regularly featured as a stop on of the Cleveland Heights Historical Society’s annual Heights Heritage Home Tour.
In fact, one such tour featured three of the dwelling’s apartments including the third-floor suite, which is currently available. The tour’s program did a great job describing this unique space:
On the same floor as the ballroom, this apartment is known as the Loft, formerly the attic. The suite consists of a living room with dining area, kitchen, bed/sitting room, bath and a long narrow closet that extends 15 feet under the sloping roof. The washer and dryer are in an enclosed area off the bathroom, an exceedingly handy arrangement. The low, leaded-glass windows in the bedroom are filled with plants, including orchids. Note also the whimsical ceramic and soft sculptured figures. The drawing board under the skylight in the living room clearly reveals that the owner is an artist. The water color of the Lighthouse and Cleveland skyline on the west wall is her work. The owner is particularly fond of this suite because it is very private, it probably has more storage space than the larger apartments, and best of all, she has a view of Lake Erie, something she has always dreamed of.
Interested in having your own view of Lake Erie? Contact us today to tour this third floor suite.
Explore some photos of the available unit:
*Photograph pictured at the top of this post courtesy of The Cleveland Heights Historical Society.