For the past six years Lee faculty and students have presented the tour as part of the Rediscovering Historic Cleveland initiative.
The tours will 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.
Through 2013, the tour has featured two dozen of Cleveland’s finest historic homes and public buildings.
This year’s tour includes:
— The Hardwick Home (590 N. Ocoee)
Completely renovated and restored over the last two years, the Hardwick home is one of the oldest surviving single-family homes in Cleveland.
After surviving the Civil War and a major fire in the late 1920s, the house had fallen into disrepair before being renovated and restored by Rufus and Jane Triplett.
— The Stivers Home (350 Centenary Ave.)
Built during the First World War, the Stivers Home was a kit home — that is, the owners ordered the floor plan and building materials from a catalog.
An extensive addition was made to the home in recent years, but the homeowners, Mike and Kim Griffin, have maintained the charm of the original structure.
— The Wilson Home (1643 N. Ocoee)
G.L. Hardwick built this home in 1929, but lived there only a year before selling it to the Wilson family.
The comfortable brick house was built in the minimal traditionalist style; later additions doubled its size but left the original facade intact.
Owned by Michael and Rebecca Williamson, the house is an outstanding example of how structures evolve over time.
— The College Hill School
While the tour will not visit the actual site of the school, patrons will be invited to learn more about the school through displays that will tell the story of Cleveland’s African-American school during its first two decades of service.
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, the Fort Hill Cemetery Tour).
Dr. John Coats, a professor at Lee and the faculty sponsor, said, “Every year I’m amazed by the generosity shown by our homeowners in opening their houses for the tour.
“Our students gain so much from the opportunity to research Cleveland’s history, but the tour also helps local residents appreciate their rich and varied past.”
Students conduct interviews, research architecture and design, work on publicity and provide commentary on the homes.
Don Laskey, a senior history major involved in the project, said, “Researching the homes for the tour gave me a whole new appreciation for our local history — the family I researched moved from my home state of Ohio to Cleveland over a century ago.”
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 9 a.m. at the History Branch of the Cleveland Public Library at 833 N. Ocoee and end at 1 p.m. The homes will be open for tours until 2 p.m.
The $4 admission to the tour will support the William Snell History Scholarship at Lee University.