Jan 4, 2013

4107 Denison Ave.

4107 Denison
Built in 1853
2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
1148 square feet
The People
Sherman Brainard, a farmer and descendant of one of the earliest settlers to Brooklyn Township, built the house on 100 acres in 1853. According to the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, its foundation was created from stones found in the nearby river, and the timber-framed structure was also locally harvested, making it a true historical embodiment of Cleveland’s agrarian history in the mid-19th century.
In 1879, Joseph Poe purchased the property. Poe worked in various governmental capacities in Brooklyn Township before it was annexed by Cleveland. Not a farmer, Poe sold off the surrounding land, some of which became Brookside Park, and some of which is now a part of the Cleveland Zoo. Both Poe and his wife, Carrie, died in the early part of the 20th century and are buried in Riverside Cemetery in Brooklyn Centre.
Charles and Emma Starke purchased the house in 1914, and, according to the 1940 census, Emma still lived there after Charles’ death. According to research done in conjunction with a movement to save what was called the Brainard Residence, a family with the surname Skoda lived in the house in the 1960s and 1970s.
After that, it seems that the house was primarily a rental property and fell into disrepair. This property is rich with history, and there was an organized effort to preserve and restore this house as a landmark. This turned out not to be possible, but the memory of this house and its inhabitants will continue to live on through this [piece].
The Place
Brooklyn Centre is one of many “Brooklyn” neighborhoods on the west side of Cleveland. Its roots are in Brooklyn Township, which was a lake port dating all the way back to the end of the 18th century. The earliest settlers to the area, such as James Fish and Sherman Brainard’s grandfather, Ozias Brainard, hailed from Connecticut and built log cabin structures in what was then the wilderness. In the early 1800s, according to “A History of Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland” by William R. Coates, the area was almost solely populated by Fishes and Brainards. The early inhabitants of Brooklyn, as it was called at that time, were farmers.
By 1830, Brooklyn Township acted as a trading post, and the streetcar extension in 1869 led to the development of a burgeoning business district along Pearl Road. Cleveland annexed Brooklyn in 1894.
Polish and German immigrants came to this neighborhood as its business district and mills grew around the turn of the century. A large number of the houses currently standing in the area were built in the early 20th century.
Brookside Park became the stadium that hosted the Cleveland Amateur Baseball Association, drawing audiences in the tens of thousands for games in the first decade of the 20th century.
In the 1960s, the construction of I-71 affected the neighborhood. Many houses needed to be torn down to make way for the throughway. The neighborhood bounced back quickly, and now many consider the proximity to the interstate to be an advantage.
Within the last five years, Brooklyn Centre was registered as a Community Wildlife Habitat Site by the National Wildlife Federation. This year (2012), Brooklyn Centre celebrated its bicentennial to much fanfare and celebration.

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