Charles Heard and Simeon Porter, Creators of a Legacy with their Old Stone Church Design

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Although Charles Wallace Heard and Simeon Porter’s partnership lasted just over a decade, his influence on Cleveland lasted.

The company was responsible for one of Cleveland’s best-known period structures, the Old stone church, a landmark in the public square since its construction in 1853 and the only survivor of the pre-Civil War buildings that surrounded the square at 19e Century.

Old stone church 1973This particular structure provides an unusual illustration of how the careers of Cleveland architects are so often intertwined. Heard was the son-in-law of Jonathan Goldsmith, who was responsible for the design of some of Northeast Ohio’s most notable early buildings along Euclid Avenue and in Lake County.

Heard received his initial training from Goldsmith. Its 1853 Old Stone Church was later renovated by Charles Schweinfurth after a catastrophic fire in 1884.

So Old Stone Church has felt the hand of three generations of renowned Cleveland builders and architects over its 201 year history.

Heard was born in Onondaga, New York in 1806. During his career he went from carpenter to master builder to architect – a familiar path for early Cleveland architects at the time before studying in Eastern Europe. become mandatory.

Heard’s partner, Simeon Porter, was born in Connecticut in 1807. He moved with his family to Hudson where he constructed several buildings for Western Reserve College, known today as the Western Reserve Academy. He also built a number of houses in Hudson before moving to Cleveland in 1848.

Construction of the Opera House from Euclid Ave., ca. 1870s. Porter joined Heard in 1849, and the Heard & Porter firm became Cleveland’s most successful architectural firm over the next decade.

After going on his own in 1859, Porter remained very active as an architect, finding work in nearby towns such as Brecksville, Kent, Hudson and Alliance. Upon his death in 1871, he was among the first to be buried in the new Lake view cemetery.

Charles Heard formed a new partnership after the dissolution of Heard & Porter and designed the Euclide Avenue Opera House at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Sheriff Street (today it is East 4e Street) in 1875, which was finally demolished in 1922, and the George Merwin House, which served as home to Cleveland’s Rowfant’s Club for many years.

It should be noted that Heard, then operating under the name Heard & Sons, constructed the Ohio State Building for the 1876 ​​Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. This building survived to participate in the Bicentenary a century later. The Ohio State Building in Philadelphia has been restored, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is still in use to this day.

While the list of Heard buildings was not huge, in addition to the Old Stone Church and the Rowfant Club, there are only two other local survivors today, both in Painesville. They understand the 1857 Lake Erie Women’s Seminary in Painesville, the only female-only higher education institution in the Western Reserve, which would later become Lake Erie College; and the 1872 Casement house, or Jennings Place, 436 Casement Ave. in Painesville, which was home to suffragists and women’s suffrage leader Frances Jennings Casement.

Upon his death in 1876, Heard reunited with his former partner at Lake View Cemetery.


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