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Franklin Boulevard--West Clinton Avenue Historic District
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Typical residence of the Franklin Boulevard -West Clinton Avenue Historic District
Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, photo by Janet Burke

The buildings encompassed by the Franklin Boulevard--West Clinton Avenue Historic District is one of the best remaining examples of the wealth engendered by Cleveland's industrial and economic growth in the post-Civil War era. During the last third of the 19th century, Franklin Boulevard was the most prestigious residential address in Cleveland, and the houses of the district reflect the various American architectural styles popular during its development from the late 1870s to the late 1920s. The years immediately following the Civil War marked a period of rapid industrial expansion in Cleveland which brought about growth in population and the economy. The construction of the Superior Viaduct across the Cuyahoga River in 1878 provided easy accessibility to downtown Cleveland from points west and Franklin Boulevard and West Cleveland developed rapidly. An 1882 map indicates there was a streetcar line along Franklin with a connection to downtown. The neighborhood has close proximity to Franklin Circle -a park-like circle with six radiating streets forming the center of Ohio City/West Side. In the 19th century the circle was surrounded by residences.

[photo] Historic view of the Franklin Boulevard -West Clinton Avenue Historic District, c. 1940
Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection, Cleveland State University Library

The turn-of-the-century residential character of the district is emphasized by two-and-a-half-story building heights, setbacks that vary from zero to 20 feet and cast iron fences. The residential styles present include Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Neo-Classical and Craftsman. Numerous towers and belvederes provide views to nearby Lake Erie. Terraces and apartment buildings contribute to the architectural character of the district.

Prominent figures of the age lived in this district including U.S. Senator Marcus Hanna, Robert Wallace, founder of Globe Iron Works, which later became American Shipbuilding, and Colonel Thomas Axworthy, who owned a coal business, controlled many iron and coal vessels and had extensive investments in Lake Superior iron mines.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the area became more densely developed. Wealthy residents relocated to other parts of the city as a result. Many of the grand houses were later converted into multi-family units. Recent rehabilitation work has restored the grandeur of many of the houses in this district.

The Franklin Boulevard --West Clinton Avenue Historic District roughly includes the 5200- 7600 blocks of Franklin Blvd., and the 5800-7300 blocks of W. Clinton Ave., in Cleveland. The houses of the district are private residences, and are not open to the public.

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