Mather Mansion

One of the few remaining homes of Millionaires Row is Mather Mansion, built by Samuel Mather in 1910 (begun in 1907). Mather was an iron tycoon who got in early to the steel industry that built Cleveland’s prosperous economy around the mid to late nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. Mather’s wife, Flora Stone Mather was the daughter of railroad businessman and Cleveland philanthropist Amasa Stone. The Stones were a very prominent family in Cleveland. Her father was a very public figure and gave nearly a million dollars to Western Reserve Academy throughout his life and after his death.

Mather Mansion was designed to be the most palatial of them all. It was designed by famous Cleveland architect Charles F. Schweinfurth to be reminiscent of an Italian Villa in the city and was built from the same bricks that built part of Harvard. The floor plan boasts forty-five rooms, plenty of room for Mr. and Mrs. Mather, their four children and grandchildren. The grounds were also intricately planned and cared for. “In fact” as observed by Michael DeAloia in Lost Cleveland, “Mather had one of the most intricate gardens on the grand avenue, conveniently located behind his home.” The cost to build such a homestead came to over one million dollars, an enormous sum at the time, in fact the most expensive home ever built in the city at the time. But the Mathers were one of the few families in the area that could afford it; at the time of his death Samuel Mather was the richest man in Cleveland.

Samuel remained in the home until his death in 1921. After that the home was leased to the Cleveland Institute of Music, which used the facility until 1940. In May of that year the Cleveland Automobile Club moved into the home and used its facilities as their headquarters for over two decades. In 1967 Cleveland State University acquired the property and mostly used it for offices. The University is still its current owner.

After Cleveland State University acquired the property in 1967 the building experienced an extensive renovation and restoration and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the first building from Cleveland to make the list. The Junior League conducted fundraisers and solicited grants to provide funding for the massive renovation. The interest in preserving the building is evident in the fact that the home was decorated with period furnishing to bring out the historic nature of the property.

Mather Mansion will hopefully soon take on a new role, that of boutique hotel. Taking cues from the successful transformation of Glidden House, developers plan to renovate the building and add several hotel suites as well as conference rooms and banquet halls. As downtown Cleveland is beginning to experience better times there is a focus on restoring the buildings built during the golden age of Cleveland.

Built on Euclid Avenue in 1910, Mather Mansion was the most expensive home ever built at the time in Cleveland and stood among the most prestigious homes in the city.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

Euclid Avenue, where Mather Mansion was built was dubbed Millionaires Row. It was home to the wealthiest families in Cleveland and was known world wide as one of the most beautiful streets. Mather Mansion is third house from the left in the image.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

In addition to the large home, Samuel Mather built extensive formal gardens behind the house.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

This post card depicts Millionaires Row at its former glory when dozens of mansions lined the streets. A very different view from today, the street is far less residential now.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

After the Mather family sold the property, the home housed the Cleveland Automobile Society for Decades after a brief period when the Cleveland Institute of Music used the facilities.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

Here is one of the mansions many rooms during the renovations of the early 1970s. The Junior League of Cleveland organized the project which restored each room to its previous glory.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

Under the ownership of Cleveland State University, the home was used for administrative offices after an extensive renovation in 1973.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

Mather Mansion was acquired by Cleveland State University in 1967. A few years later it was included on the National Register of Historic Places, the first for Cleveland.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

This aerial view depicts Mather Mansion and its neighbors in the latter half of the twentieth century. The extravagant mansions previously surrounding Mather Mansion have been replaced with Cleveland State University buildings and freeways.

Image courtesy of Cleveland State University Michael Schwartz Special Collections Library

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to Mather Mansion

  1. Profile photo of Mark Souther Mark Souther says:

    “In fact, Mather had one of the most intricate gardens on the grand avenue, conveniently located behind his home.” — I would add the source into this sentence: “In fact,” as ______ observed in ____, “Mather had one of the most intricate ….” etc.

    Your dates for CSU’s purchase of the mansion conflict: 1967 vs. 1971. Which is right?

    I don’t think the restoration came because of the National Register status. Rather, the National Register status came as a result of someone’s interest in nominating it, which is in indication of its emerging value to Clevelanders as a historic site — which in turn also prompted the restoration itself. National Register status is something that comes solely because of individuals or organizations that nominate a property. The status is merely a designation — a recognition of historic value. It often leads to interest in restoration. Perhaps you’re right about a causal relationship, but you might check to see what your sources have to say on this or rework the sentence to remove that claim of causation.

    Overall, a nice description.

    In the caption that reads “Euclid Avenue, where Mather Mansion was built was dubbed Millionaires Row. It was home to the wealthiest families in Cleveland and was known world wide as one of the most beautiful streets.” … I suggest noting that Mather Mansion appears in this photo as the third house from the left. This is a great illustration of the home’s original residential context and gives a sense of the palatial nature of these mansions.

    Great choice of images.

  2. Profile photo of luzelac luzelac says:

    Mather Mansion is a wonderful site. I do hope that it would make a successful Bed and Breakfast. I might have added that even though Flora Mather knew about the house, she never got to enjoy living there because she passed away before it was ready. It is always a challenge deciding which stories to tell, particularly for sites and people who have done so much with their lives. The postcard showing the row of mansions is amazing.

  3. Profile photo of ysaleh ysaleh says:

    Very nicely done. After doing my blog on CSU I went in search of and found the Mather Mansion. It is quite a bit of history. I am not a huge history buff, but I thoroughly enjoyed this blog.

  4. Profile photo of cciullafaup cciullafaup says:

    I really enjoyed learning more extensively about the Mather. I had no idea or have not seen any pics of the gardens behind it. You chose wonderful images. You included good detail. I would definitely enjoy seeing more of the interior design/architecture.

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