By RITA KUEBER
After a two-year hiatus, the Chagrin History Center is offering the Historic Chagrin Falls Home & Garden Tour on June 1. The tour will feature five homes and three historic buildings. Currents enjoyed a preview of two of the locations, as different as day and night, yet both filled with captivating historic elements and inspirational design.
One historic building that overlooks the gazebo and all of the Village was originally a meeting room for the Chagrin Falls IOOF Lodge 290 in 1855and eventually became the headquarters of the fire department. (The IOOF is the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, an international fraternal order founded in 1819.) Much later in 1938, the building housed Village offices and council Chambers. It became a commercial space and remains so today with commercial tenants on the first floor and a working/living space upstairs.
Entrepreneur John Gadd purchased HotCards in 2012 and carved out a creative loft in this space on East Main Street. After a series of family and personal changes, it worked out that the office space could be converted into a work/living space by changing out just a few rooms. Now the loft, with a large center hall and private offices on either side is both headquarters to HotCards but is also Gadd’s home.
And what a home! The center hall has a handcrafted table Gadd made with friends from a local tree, and easily accommodates 30 people. Private offices and a small kitchen are off to the left and right. Gadd’s son’s bedroom, with a rock climbing wall, is at the front end of the space, as is Gadd’s own room. Then there’s a game room, a TV/sitting room/den, all with20-foot ceilings throughout, and original artwork on the walls.
Most spectacularly, old and new intermingle seamlessly. In the TV room/den, Gadd displays his grandfather’s original artwork. Bela Zaboly’s illustrated Popeye comics from the mid-1930s until 1960. In the main room, there’s also a lovely painting Zaboly created as a young man of his father, a carpenter, with his tools at the ready. Even more intriguing, those very tools are displayed beneath this heirloom portrait.
The other home Currents previewed is equally sophisticated but in a much different way. This home is a cottage, built in 1850. The front yard sports an original stone hitching post. The interior is a charming, minimalist space that feels, counter-intuitively sprawling, even roomy. Surprisingly, the front door opens into a large central hallway with a distinctive Arts and Crafts fireplace. The original parlor, with its own fireplace, has been converted into a bedroom. To the left is a sitting/living room and further on, a small second bedroom.
At the back of the house is a spacious sitting room overlooking the yard and deck. The kitchen, updated and inviting, has an eating area as well as a breakfast bar and opens to the patio and sitting room. Most importantly, the decor, straight out of the Ralph Lauren handbook has touches of Asian craftsmanship, tailored lines, and a sophisticated yet muted color scheme. Overall, this small but mighty house is something out of “Architectural Digest.”
Other houses on the tour include a historic homestead near St. Joan’s built in 1893 and renovated in 2003, with many original materials retained, and integrated into the new look. The owners of this Greek Revival home are also organic gardeners growing native wildflowers, vegetables, and herbs. Another house, built by a Civil War veteran in the 1880s has been renovated into a cozy, family home, also with an organic garden. And don’t be surprised if you spot a hen or two. Then there’s a townhouse filled with eye-popping color and artwork. Also look for a Montgomery Ward kit house, reborn after a devastating fire.
With a slightly different format this year, organizers hope to capture the attention of 600 home and garden enthusiasts. The tour happens one day only, Saturday, June 1. Advance tickets are $25, but $30 the day of the tour. There’s an option for admission and a boxed lunch from Lemon Falls Cafe/Marketplace for $45. Programs with a map and wristbands necessary for admission to the houses must be picked up from the History Center at 87 East Main Street, Chagrin Falls, between May 29 and June 1. This year there are no transportation services, and no stores in the area are selling tickets for the tour.
Visit chagrinhistorical.org or call 440.247.4695 for more information.