The permit to build a two-family frame
house at 3557-3559 Hildana Road in the
Moreland neighborhood was issued in
October 1925 – when Hildana was still
161st Street – and the estimated cost
was $10,000. The loving transformation
of the property over the past 25 years by
Vicki Elder is another matter altogether.
“I need to feel a hug every time I
walk into any room in our house,” she
says of her work there. “That’s what I
need to feel to be healthy and that’s
what I want my guests to feel when
During the early days of Shaker
Village, construction was governed by
the Van Sweringen Company’s strict
standards. They favored Colonial,
English, and French designs; required
two-family homes to appear as single
dwellings; and only permitted “graduate
architects” to work in the community.
Louis Skolnik served as architect for
a number of Hildana houses during the
mid- to late-1920s, including the home
Vicki lives in with her husband James
and her mother, Mattie Clark. Theirs is
a Cleveland double architectural type,
and resembles the Arts and Crafts style,
both of which were typical of the era and
the neighborhood. Skolnik was born in
Minsk, Russia in 1890 and immigrated to
the United States in 1908. He was listed
as a registered architect in the 1940 Ohio
Architects list, and continued to design homes on Scottsdale and South Woodland roads into the early 1950s.
Vicki didn’t expect to land in Shaker Heights. She grew up on Gay Avenue in Cleveland, graduated from John Adams High
School, and earned a bachelor’s degree in information technology from Myers University. She worked in the Washington D.C.
area for law firms, primarily in IT, and for 15 years had her own business as a technical trainer, coder, and writer/editor. Her mother
Mattie purchased the Hildana home in the early 1980s, and Vicki returned home in early 1991 to support her father during his
illness, after which she and James bought the house from Mattie.
32 FALL 2018 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE