Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Mansions of Lake County - " Coulallenby "

Mention opulent mansions of The Gilded Age and many familiar names come to mind.  There is The Biltmore in North Carolina.  Another mansion of note is Fair Lane, the Michigan home of Henry Ford.  Still another that is often remembered is the Newport, RI Vanderbilt mansion simply called The Breakers.  A look back into earlier history might place Civil War General Robert E. Lee's mansion in Arlington, Virginia or Foundling Father and President Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in the top ten.  Mention Lake County, Ohio and Wickliffe can not be denied.  Wickliffe was home to many many millionaire businessmen, including Harry C. Coulby, Fergus B. Squire, and Frank Rockefeller. The mansion built in 1913 and completed in 1915 by Harry C. Coulby is situated on a 54 acre estate. Formal gardens, a pond, cow barn, gatehouse, nature trail and public park surrounded his estate.   Over 8000 square feet and built at a cost of $1million dollars, it is a mansion open to the public daily.  It is now the home of Wickliffe City Hall and the grounds are used by the recreation department.

Harry C. Coulby was born in 1865 in England.  He immigrated to Cleveland and dreamed of sailing on The Great Lakes.  Employed by Picklands Mather in 1886, it took Harry less than 20 years to become known as the Czar of The Great Lakes.  He became manager to 100 ships.  Changes in the early part of the twentieth century affected Pickands Mather and its company fleets of various names.  By 1913, Harry C. Coulby had launched his own company.  Known as the Interlake Steamship Company, Harry took over and merged the entire Pickands Mather's and Company fleets.  In the year 1916, he even found time to become the first mayor of Wickliffe.

A 631', 16,000 ton freighter the Str. Harry Coulby was commissioned in 1927 to honor the man at Interlake's helm.  After his death, "Coulallenby", the mansion's original name had several private owners and even a Catholic girls' school there until 1954, when Wickliffe purchased the property for municipal offices.  Take a walk inside city hall and you can still experience the mansion's splendor and view the original fixtures, woodwork, and hardware.  The exterior is white glazed terra cotta.  Council Chambers, the Coulby living room feature Palladian windows and carved cabinets.  Tiffany chandeliers are original to the house as are the hand carved ceiling mouldings.  The Mayor's office was formerly used as Harry's library.  A fireplace, bookshelves, Bohemian carved wood panels and hidden wall safe are still intact.  Mrs. Coulby's "boudoir" is a highlight of the second floor.  The nearby servant's quarters still feature the bell chime system, used to summon the butler or maid.  A Tiffany skylight and Lake Erie views are also noteworthy.  This mansion of Lake County is just another hidden gem and millionaire story waiting to be experienced by you as you travel the roadways of our county.

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