115_1516.JPGThe history of 11421 Bellflower

The property was part of a large parcel of land (that encompassed most of University Circle) owned by JH and Ellen Wade until the couple sold it to Cornelia Upson on June 23, 1899 for $7,300.

Mrs. Upson and her husband Joseph E. Upson lived at that time at 11447 Euclid Avenue, and remained at this address for the duration of their ownership of the Bellflower Road property. Mrs. Upson’s brother, Henry Lyman, lived at 201 Bellflower Road, at the time. This is the property next door; now 11427 Bellflower.

In June 1905 Mrs. Upson sold the property to Sophia Steinbrenner for $10,100. A building permit to construct a three-story dwelling was issued in September 2005. Construction commenced and the house was completed in 1906. Sophia and her husband, Henry, lived there with some of their six children. Their youngest son, Frank, died in the house on August 19, 1908 at 17 years old. Sophia was President of Kinsman Transit Company, which had been founded by her father, Philip Minch, and then run by her mother, Anna C. Minch, after Sophia’s father’s death. When Anna died in 1905, Sophia took over as President. Henry, her husband, served as general manager and treasurer of the company. Henry and Sophia were George M. Steinbrenner III’s great grandparents. George is the owner of the New York Yankees, among other things.

Mrs. Steinbrenner sold the house and property in 1912 to Mrs. Lizzie W. Parsons for $1. Mrs. Parsons lived in the house until May 4, 1918, when she sold it to Nellie Holt Bartol for $1,000.

Nellie and her husband, George Bartol, lived in the house until around 1936. He was President-Treasurer of Otis Steel Company. The couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Mrs. I.F. (Eleanor?) Weidlin, both of whom worked as social workers, at least while they were young and single! Mrs. Bartol died in 1927. George lived in the home following her death, with daughter Elizabeth, until his death, April 3, 1936. Circumstances regarding the ownership of the house in the 1930s and early 40s are unclear; but by 1934 the home was the property of National City Bank while George and Elizabeth continued to live there.

Deeds show National City Bank sold the house to Maud Hoover on September 25, 1944. Six months later she sold it to Otis and Helen I. Garner on February 9, 1945. The Garners in turn sold the building to Western Reserve University on August 3, 1945.

WRU purchased the building with Mather College investment funds at a price of $19,500 and became Bellflower House Dormitory, housing students of the Flora Stone College for Women from 1945-46 through 1949-50. In the fall of 1949, the dormitory closed due to lack of demand for housing space. Mather sold the building to Adelbert College (another component of WRU) for $19,500 plus $4,800 (the cost of depreciated equipment). The house became a men’s dormitory “Ickes House” in 1950-51 and operated until 1952.

During the Mather years, the building housed anywhere from 28 to a low of 14 women, as well as a House Mistress. The Adelbert men filled the house a little more. Their estimates of space ranged from 35-40 men, and a documented minimum of 32 men occupied the building during those years.

Beta Eta chapter of Sigma Chi (the CIT chapter) purchased the house from WRU in July 1953 and the chapter as well as Beta Alpha chapter of the same fraternity (WRU) moved into the building. Though it is hard to imagine the 2 chapters co-habitating for long, it looks as if they did just that, at least intermittently from 1953-54 through 1967-68. In 1968 Beta Eta (CIT) moved to 11318 Bellflower (now the Iris and Bert Wolstein Hall) and Beta Alpha (WRU) took sole possession of 11421 Bellflower. (CIT and WRU merged in 1967 to create CWRU but that in no way meant any of the fraternities that had dual chapters would merge them!)

In any event, the Case Sigs (Beta Eta) owned the house until 1971, when the chapter sold it to University Circle, Inc. UCI then leased it to Phi Rho Sigma, a medical school fraternity, who lived in the house approximately 1972-73 through 1984-85.

The building was vacant and essentially abandoned until 1992-93 when CWRU Housing and Residence Life approached Alpha Chi Omega about the possibility of the sorority renovating and occupying the building. UCI had transferred ownership of the property to the university by 1990. The building was sound structurally but needed a lot of work to repair water damage from roof leaks and to bring it up to code and into the 20th century. The university spread the cost of the $375,000 renovation over a 10-year lease and the sorority members moved in in August 1993.


See also Case Archives.