Saving Scofield Mansion

By Special Contributor posted 06-14-2018 12:33

  

By Robert Klein

Scofield Mansion is one of only 10 known remaining buildings designed by architect and sculptor Levi Scofield, who is best known for the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument that stands in Cleveland’s Public Square. Scofield designed and built his family home on Cleveland’s East Side in 1898. “It was designed in a very picturesque setting to overlook the city,” said Kathleen Crowther, president of the Cleveland Restoration Society. “He built it in a bucolic area to have magnificent views of the city.”

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Scofield Mansion before restoration | Credit: SecureView

The architectural masterpiece now known as Scofield Mansion was home to the Scofield family until 1925, when it became a convent. It then served as a nursing home from 1953 until its eventual abandonment. The abandoned mansion fell on hard times, left open and vulnerable to the elements, wildlife, and trespassers. It earned a reputation as being haunted and became a serious safety concern for neighbors. It was described as a “haven for crime”—a home to drug deals and squatters. The city condemned the mansion, and it faced demolition.

Because of its historical significance, the Cleveland Landmarks Commission recommended that the mansion be listed as a city landmark. The Cleveland Restoration Society brought in a group of restoration professionals, concerned companies, and individuals to survey the building and determine whether it was structurally sound. Saving the Scofield Mansion became a community effort.

Community-Driven Restoration

The mansion’s owner donated the property to the Cuyahoga County Land Bank and stabilizing the structure became the top priority. Volunteers from several organizations, including Precision Environmental, Coon Restoration, 1st Choice Roofing, and SecureView, worked together to stabilize the mansion by removing debris, abating asbestos, patching water leaks, conducting general cleaning, and securing the window and door openings with clearboarding to prepare the building for future redevelopment.

“It is one of the finest examples of community-driven restoration I have ever seen,” said Heather Best, SecureView’s historical structure expert. Best has been a powerful voice opposing the erosion of historic structures, working tirelessly to gather adequate support, funding, and materials to ensure the safety and security of dozens of buildings throughout the United States. “Our shared history is our shared responsibility. SecureView is the answer to stop these problems, prevent intrusion, and set the table for historic redevelopment projects,” she says.

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Scofield Mansion during restoration | Credit SecureView

SecureView seeks to reduce the degradation of buildings like Scofield Mansion by replacing broken window glass or plywood with SecureView ClearBoarding—an unbreakable plastic that reduces the appearance of vacancy. In its Preservation Brief 31, the National Park Service (NPS) recommends that “rigid polycarbonate clear storm glazing panels may be placed on the window exterior to protect against glass breakage.” The NPS even recommends such polycarbonate material to mimic stained glass in beautiful older structures whose windows are at risk. “The big idea is that the worst eyesore in a challenged Cleveland neighborhood will be transformed into a beautiful and historic site,” said Crowther.

SecureView undertook the Scofield Mansion project as our own. In a partnership with Coon Restoration, we installed SecureView ClearBoarding on all the doors and windows of the mansion, as well as on another related building nearby.

“This work not only saved and mothballed a historic treasure, it eliminated a neighborhood eyesore which now stands ready to become a focal point in a community perched on the edge of the Opportunity Corridor development,” said Douglas Hoffman, vice-chair and trustee of the Cleveland Restoration Society. The Scofield Mansion, now stabilized and secured, is under current bidding and review from historic redevelopment suitors.

The late Robert Klein was the founder and chairman of SecureView.


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