For the past five years, the faculty and students of Lee University have presented the tour as part of the Rediscovering Historic Cleveland initiative.
The tours introduce the families who first lived in the homes, bring to life the historical setting in which the homes were built, and help explain the architecture and design of the houses.
Randy Wood, of the Cleveland Historic Preservation Commission, said, “the tour illuminates the unique physical qualities of Cleveland’s rich historical landscape.”
The homes and buildings featured on this year’s tour include:
- The Campbell Home (570 N. Ocoee). Built in 1903 by civic leader Luther D. Campbell, the home is marked by its distinctive arched front entrance and features inlaid wood floors. It is the current residence of Robert and Ramona Thompson.
- The Dooley Home (240 8th St.). Built shortly after the Second World War, this lovely brick home is an example of the minimal traditional style made popular during the post-war building boom. Originally owned by the proprietor of the Lusk (later Dooley) Drug Store, it is now the home of Ed and Dee Dee Finison.
- The Kirby Home (1643 N. Ocoee). This circa 1915 home recently underwent extensive renovation by owners Scott and Sarah Bragg, who discovered a number of historic artifacts during the construction that will be on display during the tour.
- The Noel Home (1920 N. Ocoee) was constructed in 1889 by French immigrant CJC Noel, the owner of the Cleveland Fire Brick Company. The structure was built in the federal style, but was later remodeled to include distinctive drop down dormers. It is the residence of David Pemberton and Steve Kennan.
- The Tankersley Home (330 8th Street). This 1925 cottage style home features a rolled roof that simulates straw thatch; it also boasts an extensive modern addition. It is currently the home of Brett and Danielle Maize.
The tours will be conducted by Lee University history students completing their senior year “capstone” experience, which includes a public history project (the annual spring house tour and, in the fall, Fort Hill Cemetery Tour).
Dr. John Coats, a professor at Lee University and the faculty sponsor, said, “It is great to see our students engage this opportunity to immerse themselves in Cleveland’s past — it not only gives them a unique research experience, but acting as guides for the tour allows them to share their work with the community.”
Students conduct interviews, research architecture and design, work on publicity, and provide commentary on the homes.
Steven Snyder, one of the history students involved in this year’s project, said, “I love being able to take history out of the classroom. Not only do we have a chance to teach others about Cleveland’s past, but we also have the opportunity to write the first draft of the history about the homes and their owners.”
Tour-goers will learn about what life in Cleveland would have been like around the time of each dwelling’s construction. They will also observe examples of architecture from different time periods and the extent to which parts of the homes have been restored, preserved and modernized.
Ticket sales begin the day of the tour at 8:45 a.m. at the former AmSouth bank building at 440 N. Ocoee and end at 1 p.m.
The homes will be open for tours until 2 p.m.
The $5 admission to the tour will support the Historic Branch of the Cleveland Public Library and the William Snell History Scholarship at Lee University.