Architect Earl Andrews: Designed and built more than 100 NE Ohio homes, Henn Mansion

Earl John Andrews came to Cleveland as a 23-year-old to open his architecture practice. He went on to design and build some of Northeast Ohio’s classic design examples in University Circle and the eastern suburbs.

A native of Wilmington, Ohio, Andrews attended the local high school before studying architecture at The Ohio State University, where he graduated in 1904. While in college, he spent his summers in Cleveland as a carpenter’s apprentice.

After graduating, Andrews took classes at the New York Technical School before he briefly joined a New York architecture firm.

Henn Mansion interiorHenn Mansion interiorAndrews moved to Cleveland in 1905 and opened his offices. He became the first Cleveland architect to both design and build more than 100 homes in Wade Park between 1907 and 1917—many of which are now a part of the Magnolia-Wade Park Historic District in University Circle and the East Boulevard Historic District in Glenville.

Andrews designed two homes in Cleveland Heights and one home in Shaker Heights, and he designed and built his own home at 11201 Wade Park Blvd. in 1914, and another one in 1917 at 2170 South Overlook Road in Cleveland Heights.

His homes often bore elements of Classical Revival, Colonial Revival, Georgian Revival, English Medieval, and Bungalow, or Craftsman, styles. Despite his unique and varied talents as both an architect and a builder, Andrews was not well-known in his time.

One structure that remains a standout in Andrews’ repertoire is Henn Mansion at 23131 Lake Shore Blvd. in Euclid. Andrews was commissioned by Albert W. Henn and his wife, Gertrude, to build the 9,200-square-foot, 23-room mansion on the Lake Erie shores.

Henn, a Hartford, Connecticut native, came to Cleveland in 1885 at the age of 19 and worked in the dry goods store Root & McBride. In 1901, Henn’s brother Edwin moved to Cleveland as well, and Albert became treasurer of Edwin’s thriving machine tool company, Acme Machine Screw Co., which Edwin had started in 1895 with his invention of the multiple spindle automatic lathe.

By 1902 Acme was thriving and merged with National Manufacturing Company to become National Acme Company.

Business boomed, and in 1910, Albert Henn bought 18 acres of farmland on Lake Shore Boulevard and began growing grapes and using ice cut from Lake Erie to pack and ship the fruit.

Andrews lived in this house in 1917 at 2170 South Overlook Road in Cleveland HeightsAndrews lived in this house in 1917 at 2170 South Overlook Road in Cleveland HeightsAs National Acme continued to grow, Henn paid Andrews $120,000 in 1923 to build a mansion on his property. Andrews designed and built the house within the year.

Like many of Andrews’ designs, the red brick home with a slate roof and leaded glass windows was built in Tudor Revival style, with elements of Bungalow Craftsman.

The 10 rooms on the first floor include a large front hall, a wood-paneled living room with built-in wood carvings around a fireplace, a sunroom, a kitchen, a terrace, and three porches. Features include multiple ornate fireplaces, a sweeping brass and wrought iron staircase, spectacular lake views, and sleeping porches off of many of the bedrooms.

As his company and investments grew, Henn prospered, both economically and socially, and he unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Euclid in 1926.

By the 1930s, the Great Depression and diseased grape crops ultimately led to Henn’s financial demise.

Henn could not pay his taxes and gave up his property to the City of Euclid in a settlement that allowed him to continue to live in his home. Henn’s wife, Gertrude died in 1931, and Henn died of cancer in May 1947 at the age of 82 and was buried in Lake View Cemetery.

Upon his death, Euclid took over the property, used the home for various city and school uses, and created Kenneth J. Sims Park on the land.

In 1996, Euclid was considering the demolition of the Henn Mansion, which prompted the formation of Friends of the Henn Mansion. The group developed a strategic plan to save the home and ultimately was able to lease the building from the city and make needed renovations and repairs.

The Henn Mansion was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Today, Friends of Henn Mansion has more than 250 members and the group has made more than $850,000 in renovations and repairs.

The mansion operates today as an event center that can accommodate up to 80 guests.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.