Tag Archives: Historic Preservation

Prospect Yard: Paying Homage to Cleveland’s Automotive History

Prospect Yard Rendering
Rendering of Prospect Yard, coming soon

Once upon a time, Cleveland was known as the epicenter of the automotive industry. By the early 20th century, Cleveland was home to seven major car manufacturers and added many industry innovations, including the spark ignition, flexible steering column, and various engine types. This formative period in Cleveland’s automotive manufacturing heyday was also when Frank E. Stuyvesant established the Stuyvesant Motor Co. and later became the primary Cleveland distributor for the merged Hudson-Stuyvesant Motor Car Company. Such an enterprise required a facility that could sell and service these high-end vehicles, which is where our story begins. 

Located on Prospect Avenue within Downtown Cleveland’s current “Campus District” stands the historic former Stuyvesant Motor Company building. Constructed in 1917, the building was originally built as a sales showroom, service center, garage, and storage facility for the manufacturer’s cars. Prior to the eventual dominance of the “big three” (Ford, Chrysler, General Motors), the Stuyvesant Motor Co. embodies the shift from small, local automotive manufacturer to the larger assembly-line based corporations whose legacy remains in today’s brands. Within a local framework, the building significantly contributed to the manufacturing, service, and support of automobiles, and represents the rise and decline of small, independent auto manufacturers in Cleveland. Expansion of the four-story building to its existing five stories in 1919 underscores the significance of this company as other local manufacturers failed. 

After the Great Depression, the Stuyvesant Motor Company Building became home to various other businesses associated with the automobile industry and service functions until the late 1930s. The building was then occupied by the Coast Guard, the U.S. Government and even a print shop until it sat vacant for decades.

Stuyvesant Motor Company building circa 1964

Today, the historic property is undergoing a substantial rehabilitation to begin its new life as Prospect Yard, scheduled to be completed early this summer. The adaptive reuse project started out as a conversion to “market rate” housing. The developer recognized that many Cleveland residents were being displaced by the volumes of new work downtown and lack of affordable housing options in the area. The project then became “income eligible” housing to offer affordable options to those in the service industries who are essential to the life of Cleveland’s retail, hospitality, and even health care industries.

The open, industrial layout of the Stuyvesant Motor Co. building lends itself well to its rebirth as housing. It also serves as a prime example of how historic preservation and adaptive reuse can address the housing affordability crisis occurring in cities nationwide. Additionally, the original and restored features of the building give the apartments a high-end, industrial loft feel not often accessible to residents in modern affordable housing developments.

Among the restored features are the original car lift elevator, covered underground parking once used for car storage, exposed interior concrete columns, and joist and slab ceilings. Throughout the building, original exterior masonry materials, including window sills, brick pilasters, and stone ornament remain intact.

Prospect-yard-Windows-Cleveland-Ohio
Under construction: The original giant steel sash windows flood the new apartment units with natural light and views of Downtown Cleveland.

Arguably, the most striking feature of the entire project is the giant steel sash windows framing views of the Cleveland skyline and flooding the apartments with natural light.

The original features and structure of Prospect Yard make it a unique property steeped in local history. In its new role, The Stuyvesant Motor Company building retains the rich history and memorable characteristics of Cleveland’s automobile industry. 

Stay tuned for more details and updates on the completion of Prospect Yard. In the meantime, check out our other historic preservation work


Have a historic fixer-upper begging for a new life? Get in touch, we’d love to help.

Wayne Agency Co. Building Awarded at Cleveland Restoration Society’s Celebration of Preservation

May 23, 2019 – The annual Celebration of Preservation awards took place at the beautifully restored Ohio Theater last night! The event, hosted by AIA Cleveland/Akron and the Cleveland Restoration Society, recognizes outstanding historic preservation projects throughout the region. Perspectus Historic Architecture and building owner Keith Saffles of Crooked River Holdings were honored with the “Main Street Rehabilitation” award for their work on the Wayne Agency Building in Cuyahoga Falls.

When the Wayne Agency Building was originally constructed in 1922, its prominent Front Street address positioned it right along the main artery of commerce for downtown Cuyahoga Falls. In the late 1970s, Front Street was converted into a pedestrian mall, and the building, along with the rest of the block, fell victim to vacancies as businesses flocked to increasingly popular indoor malls.

The historic rehabilitation of The Wayne Agency Building was only one component of a much larger community effort by the city of Cuyahoga Falls to stimulate economic development and bring new retail to the Downtown Historic District. Building owner Keith Saffles is committed to the growth of the city and has filled the building with local Cuyahoga Falls small-business tenants. The newly restored first floor retail spaces are currently occupied by the Yum Yum Sweet Shop, Pav’s Creamery and Good Co. Salon. The spaces on the upper floor are now home to a music school and various business offices.

The overwhelming success of the building’s restoration has inspired a cascade of restoration and redevelopment projects on historic Front Street, which has since been restored to its original use as the main thoroughfare of historic downtown Cuyahoga Falls.

Perspectus-Architecture-Historic-Restoration-Adaptive Reuse-Everts-Hill-Circleville High School-Exterior

Adaptive Reuse: How Preserving Buildings of the Past Helps Preserve the Future

Historic preservation is itself, a practice of sustainability that benefits communities and our environment. The demolition of a building uses a lot of energy and releases large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Additional energy is expelled during construction of a replacement facility.

On the flipside, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 report “The Greenest Building,” saving a historic building for adaptive reuse “almost always yields far fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size and functionality.”

We can see sustainable adaptive reuse in action in the renovation of the historic Circleville High School in Circleville, Ohio. Built in 1916, the high school eventually become the Everts Hill Middle School. When Everts Hill Middle School relocated to a new facility in 2016, the century-old school sat empty and was almost torn down.

Photography by Todd Williams
The front exterior of the historic Circleville High School.
Photography by Todd Williams 
The historic high school was rehabilitated into Everts Hill affordable senior living apartments. The new complex is fully ADA accessible.
Photography by Todd Williams 
Detail above the front entrance.
Photography by Todd Williams  
The historic Circleville High School was built in 1916 and would continue to serve students for the next 100 years.
Photography by Todd Williams
The historic auditorium retains the original proscenium arch and now serves as the gathering area for families and parties.
Photography by Todd Williams
The exterior of the restored historic greenhouse original to the property.
Photography by Todd Williams
The interior of the restored historic greenhouse, original to the property.
Photography by Todd Williams
A view down one of the corridors. The original built-in lockers now function as tenant storage. The terrazzo flooring is also original to the corridors.
Photography by Todd Williams
Historic built-ins that were coat/backpack racks and teacher supply storage are now used for tenant storage.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. The original slate boards were retained in each unit adding to the historic charm of the unit.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit bedroom.

The City of Circleville had a demolition contract for the property in place when our historic architecture team put them in contact with the developer, Woda Cooper Companies. Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio and Woda Cooper Companies worked together with the city to save the historic high school and rehabilitate it into an affordable senior living community by creative use of the land and existing facilities. The property is now known as Everts Hill Apartments.

“We’re able to place tenants into a building that was about to be torn down, that’s pretty amazing,” says Principal Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA, Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio. “That’s a victory for the city as well as for the developers.” Murphy also stresses that by saving the building from demolition, we have a measurably reduced carbon footprint.

Meeting Green Standards

The project was primarily funded by the developer’s private funding and through federal and state historic preservation tax credits. One of the chief funding sources comes from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which will reward restoration housing projects that meet the sustainability standards outlined by the Enterprise Green Community program. The Enterprise Green Community program aligns “affordable housing project investment strategies with environmentally responsive building practices.” To qualify, the sustainable restoration must meet a certain number of points in a required and optional set of standards for certification.

Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio and Woda Cooper Companies worked closely to ensure the design of the new Everts Hill senior living community met all Enterprise Green Community certification requirements, even going above and beyond in certain areas, as a sustainable building. Some of the measures taken to meet green living standards include recycling above the required amount of post-industrial waste, using materials that are manufactured and transported from within 500 miles to reduce CO2 emissions associated with transportation, using low VOC materials, as well as efficient heating and cooling systems.

Everts Hill must additionally meet requirements that holistically benefit the health of the tenant through implementing universal design in which the design decision was made to make the building accessible and visitable, a completely non-smoking environment, connected to the community, and available to open space. Residents have access to half the original football field for outdoor leisure and the restoration preserved the historic configuration of the site.

Ultimately, earning Enterprise Green Community certification means the building will cost less to operate and maintain, use fewer resources and contain fewer toxic materials.

Cultural Sustainability

Historic restoration projects also achieve sustainability from a cultural perspective. The buildings are given a new use while the design must respect its past and its emotional ties with community members. The new Everts Hill complex is tied to the community, especially among the older community because they remember going to school there.

Many of the building’s unique features were restored and creatively incorporated to serve the building’s new function while also created to be distinctly reminiscent of the building’s original purpose.  Murphy explains that for a restoration architect, “the biggest challenge in these types of projects is that you want to save everything, and you want to restore everything. But you must remember that people are the clients, not the buildings. And that to make affordable housing, we have to be careful not to go overboard.”

The goal of the design was to maintain the charm of the historic high school, says Dalton Kline, Interior Designer, Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio. “We have design stylistically compatible apartments in this historic building.”

Old classrooms are now apartment units, complete with the original slate boards. New unit entry doors were reconstructed to resemble the classroom’s original doors. Plumbing and other apartment amenities were configured along the corridor wall with the living space along the windows, which were restored to their original size allowing for more natural light in the units.

The building features the original corridors and flooring. The historic auditorium retains the original proscenium arch and is now home to the complex’s gathering area for families and parties. At the rear of the historic high school, the original greenhouse that was converted to a fieldhouse has been reborn as a greenhouse for tenants. Also remaining are the corridors built-in lockers that currently serve as tenant storage.

Previously hidden by drop ceilings, contractors discovered the original skylights, that once again provide another source of natural light.

The existing cafeteria is reimagined as a café open to the public. Creating this space increases the quality of life and provides a community connection between the senior residents and the public.

When asked how the Everts Hill was received by the Circleville community, Murphy explained that during the construction phase of these historic adaptive reuse projects, people tend to be unsure since they’ve grown used to the building as part of the city’s landscape. “But once it opens and has a little life pumped back into it, everyone is thrilled.”

Historic preservation provides sustainability for our environment and our communities. Projects like Everts Hill Apartments at the historic Circleville High School demonstrate that preserving the past can go a long way towards preserving the future.