[graphic] Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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Stephen Frazee House
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Current views of the Stephen Frazee House
Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The Stephen Frazee House is one of the two earliest brick houses in Ohio’s lower Cuyahoga Valley, its construction coinciding with the building of the Ohio and Erie Canal adjacent to the house. Stephen and Mehitable Frazee were more than early Ohio settlers, they were frontiersmen. They purchased this land in 1806, bounded on the west by the Cuyahoga River. In 1825 construction of the Ohio and Erie Canal along the Cuyahoga River began to change area settlers' lives. With this water transportation route, farmers had access to eastern markets and they prospered. Steven Frazee became more affluent almost immediately, suing the state of Ohio for flooding and damage to his corn and grasslands from the construction of the canal.

[photo] Historic view of the house, c. 1935
Courtesy of Cuyahoga Valley National Park

The Frazee House is a vernacular interpretation of the Federal style. Unlike most examples of this architectural style in the extended New England cultural region of northern Ohio, the house's gable ends do not face the street. This eave-orientation of the house is a typical characteristic of Federal architecture in central and southern Ohio, which was dominated by settlers from the Mid-Atlantic or Upland South areas. This difference in building orientation is more likely a reflection of cultural tradition than personal preference. Although Stephen Frazee settled in the Connecticut Western Reserve part of Ohio, he came from Pennsylvania, a state associated with Mid-Atlantic culture.

The significance of the house extends beyond the brick walls and Federal style characteristics. The house is an element of a larger picture: an early 19th-century Western Reserve landscape. Looking through the front windows of the 1826 house, visitors can see the 1831 River Road (now Canal Road) next to the 1825 Ohio and Erie Canal and Towpath. Beyond the canal are Stephen Frazee's fields, skirted by trees lining the river that 190 years ago served as the frontier of a young and growing Nation. The vista from the house provides a visual connection between the house site, Canal Road, the Ohio and Erie Canal and the farm fields beyond, illustrating dominant land use patterns associated with early Western Reserve settlement.

The Stephen Frazee House is located at 7733 Canal Rd. within Cuyahoga Valley National Park, in Cleveland. It is open weekends only, May 1 through Oct. 31, from 10:00am to 5:00pm; closed the rest of the year. For further information visit the park’s website or call 216-524-1497. The Stephen Frazee House has also been documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey.

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