38 SPRING 2018 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE
The Cleveland Restoration Society, however,
does far more than present awards for
preservation. It takes an active role
in advocacy and actual projects in numerous
communities, including Shaker Heights, with free
technical assistance to homeowners and access to
low interest loans for renovation work. Consistent
with its mission, CRS can also petition the court to
become the receiver of neglected property, which is
what it eventually did for the Colston house.
While the City kept a watchful eye on the house
for several years, it was limited in the scope of what
it could do to save it. The highest level of protection
is provided by being listed as a local landmark;
demolition or exterior alterations then require the
Shaker Heights Landmark Commission’s approval. However,
the Colston house was not listed as a landmark at the time.
Fortunately, City Council can afford a property certain
protections through a moratorium that effectively gives the
City the ability to treat it like a landmark while the property
goes through the process.
The landmark listing can be viewed not just as a tool for
the protection of a particular home, but for the character
of Shaker Heights as well. As City Planning Director Joyce
Braverman and Principal Planner Ann Klavora explain, it
allows for the “caretaking of our historic resources which
creates the neighborhood.”
Several City departments worked with the Planning
Department to ensure that the house could earn landmark
status. The work had been given added urgency by an out-ofstate
mortgage lender who inquired about a demolition permit.
Given the state of disrepair of the house, along with an order
by City building inspectors that the house was no longer fit for
occupancy, perhaps the news of the home’s condition was not
surprising – but still shocking – to those who knew the house
and its history. But by late 2013 the City began
working with CRS to become the receiver, or caretaker,
of the house. This allowed CRS to legally make
the necessary repairs to stop the deterioration; by
late 2014 CRS was officially the owner of the house.
CRS, which has several renovation and
restoration experts on staff, oversaw the
stabilization work over the next several months.
This included completion of a full slate roof
restoration, repair or replacement of the copper
gutters and downspouts, removal of the damaged
interiors to prevent further deterioration from
moisture, and installation of a temporary heating
system. Once the structure was stabilized and
watertight, the house was sold to Palmieri Builders
of Solon in early 2016 for a comprehensive
renovation. The house was sold to new owners soon
after being offered for sale.