More than a memory
The Stager-Beckwith Mansion comes alive to create new opportunities
for Cleveland's future leaders
It has been said that a city without old buildings is like a man without
his memories. Unfortunately, many of Cleveland's old memories, such as the
mansions of Millionaires' Row, have been lost to time and urban renewal.
Only a handful of the Euclid Avenue landmarks are still extant, some of
them almost buried behind additions and anachronisms.
Fortunately, one of the most visible of the Millionaires' Row remnants
has been brought back to life, and in an exciting new way. It is the Stager-Beckwith
Mansion, an Italianate/Second French Empire buiding most recently known
as the University Club, a private club. This structure was built in 1862-66
by Col. Anson Stager, the general superintendent of the Western Union Telegraphy
Co., for $60,000 and sold just after the Civil War to dry goods merchant
T. Sterling Beckwith, who lived in it on Millionaire's Row along Euclid
It was sold to the University Club in 1913 as a private club, which added
a three-story annex to the north side, designed by noted architect Milton
Dyer,that contained a ballroom on the first floor. Later, squash courts
and a sports club were added on the west side, totally subsuming the site's
original carriage house, whose outlines can still be seen in the building
The 15-room University Club building was recently bought and revamped
by Myers University, formerly known as Dyke College and famous as the institution
that trained John D. Rockefeller. The school is, obviously, an institution
in this city, but it has recently been expanding itself in a major way to
create new educational opportunities for regional residents, such as this
However, according to Myers President Paul Feingold, the school needed,
not just more spaceroom to grow in a new MidTown locationbut the
right kind of space. "We needed a property that gave us an identity
and more visibility," he says. "When the University Club became
available, it gave us all that, and more. It gave us an icon." Indeed,
the building is featured in a new UC logo for the school, which will rent
the building for events and conferences as well as use it for education
and student activities.
The MidTown location lets Myers University play off the advantages created
by the Euclid Corridor Project and the new high-tech and healthcare companies
locating in the district. "This lets us continue to contribute to Cleveland,"
says Feingold. "We had to either move to the suburbs or recommit to
the city. But with the board's support, we can make a bigger impact on downtown
and help the Euclid Corridor come back to life." He expects that the
school's expansion into MidTown will result in about 100 new hires and economic
growth for the city.
The Ferchill Group owns the building and was the project developer, with
Sandvick Architecture, with onsite management by Jeff Rutushin, as the designer
and the MCM Company Inc., headed by Melissa Ferchill, as the general contractor
on the 100% union project. "Jonathan Sandvick got us involved in this
project, says Ferchill. MCM has done many small development projects for
non-profits, including the YWCA project on Prospect, as well as the redo
of the Christian Science Church in University Circle as a home for Nottingham-Spirks.
"I talked my dad into this," she adds. "I am committed to
the Euclid Corridor Project, and I think this is a good fit for the Euclid
She adds, "I am impressed with Myers University's commitment to
Cleveland's youth," says Ferchill, "and I am pleased we could
save the property. If Myers hadn't bought it, it would probably not be there
anymore. This is a good use for the University Club. It could only work
for a single-use project, not for a multi-tenant facility."
She agrees with Feingold that the school's educational and technical
mission is a good for the Euclid Avenue corridor. Although construction
started in January, the purchasing, financing and planning were in the works
for two years. The biggest challenges were the financing, according to Feingold,
and designing it within a reasonable budget. "Ferchill and Sandvick
said that it had to be doable within our budget," says the president.
"They did the numbers. It was a really big challenge to get the financing
and to build it in the right time frame."
Because the building is an historically significant project, it could
get special funding support, such as a loss development easement for National
City's Community Development Bank. The Carpenter's Union pension fund bridged
the gap. Historic tax credits were also used on this landmark-status building.
The original mansion's additions, according to Ferchill, were as historically
prominent in nature as the original building and so had to be respected
during the reconstruction.
The exterior's paint- over-brick could not be removed as it had soaked
too deeply into the brick. However, using a brick-colored paint brought
back the original feel and provided contrast for the exterior sandstone
decorations and ironwork balconies, including a widow's walk.
The interiors were critical to the project, Ferchill adds, unlike those
in many other projects, where you must keep the exterior but can gut the
inside. "The interiors in this case have direct application to the
exterior of the building," she adds, "and even the carpet, even
the paint colors, have significance."
Heather Harris handled the interiors for Sandvick. "I wanted to
do something special," she says, "with contrasting period colors,
saturated colors in the entry rooms and more soothing colors in the offices.
And the wallpaper in the parlor is a deep red with gold stars."
"They are spectacular, breathtaking Victorian colors," says
Feingold, "38 different colors in the buildinggreens and mustards,
and all patterns carry throughout the building. There are 22 custom carpets
with coordinating colorways.
"We needed to do a number of things with this building," he
goes on, and those things serve administrative, educational and hospitality
functions. The building has 66,000-sf of space, with four conference rooms,
a library, a grand ballroom with sunroom and an outdoor terrace, with a
fountain and lighting. Amenities include executive and gourmet dining rooms,
served by an updated, state-of-the-art commercial kitchen that will double
as an educational facility for a culinary school. A third-floor resident
suite will house the president and his wife in private quarters upstairs.
An annex becomes executive and service offices. The former sports center
becomes four "dry" tech classrooms, with the locker rooms used
by faculty and students for workouts.
The acquisition also gives Myers better access to parking, but one challenge
was maintaining that "mansion" look by taking parking out to the
side of the building and keep grass in front.
Refitting the historic site for modern uses was also challenging. All
of the windows are historic, all were pulled using a new method, reglazed
with two panes of insulated glass, so no storm windows need to be used.
And they are still operable. This saved money, as no custom storms needed
to be used.
"With historic preservation, everything you touch is a challenge,"
says Ferchill. "Outside of the skin and surfaces, everything in the
building is brand new." The entire building has been retrofitted with
new piping, wiring, gas, water and storm sewer connections. HVAC was a
problem, but zoned heat pumps and 40-some fancoil vents are tucked away,
housed in closets, "We put duct work where it's never been before and
put mechanical rooms where they never were," says Ferchill.
There were many fire code ratings upgrades, made because the top floor
residence superceded an institutional rating. The additions were significant,
and sprinklers and pipes were run behind decorative moldings for camouflage.
The educational function called for state-of-the-art audiovisual enhancements.
Fiber optics and WIFI are high-tech elements used throughout; their smaller
size was easier to rework than cable.
The feel of a campus
The Myers MidTown campus will also be created with a cost effective build-out
of the former Minnehaha building on Chester, whose 40,000-sf will have a
raised roof to accommodate an activity center as well as a high-tech learning
center, a bookstore, a virtual library and offices.
The school also has an option on the former Hough Supply and the three
acres next to Dealer Tire. It hopes to build a fieldhouse for basketball,
wrestling and volleyball. With these additions, it will have buildings on
both sides of Chester, along with parking and lawn areas, in its MidTown
The project is being done in phases, with the mansion costing $11 million
and the other work $10-12 million. Overall, it represents Myers' $30 million
investment in the MidTown district. Completion of the educational areas
was in early September, with the apartment for the Finegolds completed at
the end of October. BXM
Developer: Ferchill Group
Architect: Sandvick Arch.
Contractor: MCM Co. Inc.
Cost: $11 million
Size: 48,0o0-sf total
Timeline: Planning began 2002, construction began January 2004,
completion November 2004
- Engineering consultants: Cuyahoga Engineering and Surveying (civil
engineering), Denk Assoc. (electrical and mechanical), Hach & Ebersole
- Interior finishes: Acme Arsena Co. Inc., Mike McGarry & Sons, Inc.
Flooring: Spectra FlooringGarage doors: Action Door
- Structural steel; Burghardt Metal Fabricating
- Window restoration: Carlisle Glass Co.
- Site concrete: Cleveland Cement Contractors
- Plumbing/HVAC: Coleman Spohn
- Electrical/telecommunications: Harrington Electric Co.
- Carpentry, Lake Erie Craftsman Inc.
- Fire protection: S.A. Comunale
- Precast concrete: Reading Precast
- Demo and excavation/concrete: Precision Environmental Inc., Maintenance
- Earthwork/site utilities: Nerone & Sons Inc.
- Landscaping: Royal Landscape
- Asphalt paving: Schloss Paving Co.
- Exterior masonry: VIP Restoration n Roofing, insulation, exterior sheet
- Warren Roofing & Insulating