Friends of the Henn Mansion
Friends of the Henn Mansion was formed in March, 1996 in response to a plan by the City of Euclid to demolish the Historic Albert W. Henn Mansion, a city owned building located in Sims Park. Founders, led by June Daugherty and Meg McGarry called for a meeting of citizens interested in saving the building. Those who attended became Friends of the Henn Mansion and were incorporated on August 7, 1996. The Friends next step was to draft a strategic plan and acquire a lease for the building from the City of Euclid allowing the building to be operated as a multipurpose center during the period of renovation.
The first Board of Directors was elected in January, 1997, and consisted of Maryanne Hiti (President), Greg Jurcisin (Vice President), June Daugherty (Treasurer), Sandra Strieter-Shannon (Secretary), Robert Berger, Ed Crawford, Cecilia Duer, Al Parker, Joseph Podnar, Jean Reilly, Beverly Valencic, Neil Myers, and Honorary Trustees Jean Henn-Mossburger, and Meg McGarry.
A strategic plan was prepared proving the Friends could operate and maintain the mansion at no cost to the City. In 1997 a one-year lease was obtained for use of the first floor and the second floor balcony. Before the building could be opened to the public, significant first floor clean up and repairs were needed. Volunteer teams began cleaning and painting, and professionals were hired to make more complex safety related repairs. The mansion was first rented for an event in May 1998. During this period fund raising events, tours and lectures were held to bring people into the house to see its beauty and gain their support for saving it.
In 1998 a $50,000 grant was obtained from the State of Ohio through the efforts of Representative Edward Jerse. This money plus additional city funds was used to waterproof the basement, stabilizing the foundation. This time period saw the entire outside of the building repainted through a gift of time and materials from McGarry Brothers Painting Contractors, and roof repairs provided by Daugherty Construction Company.
The architectural firm Gaede Serne was hired to develop a master plan that implemented the overall future use plan developed by volunteer committee members. The plan called for the first floor and balcony area to be designated as “Flex Space” a place available to the public for event, business and educational rentals. The second floor bedrooms would be turned into small business office suites. The overall cost to complete planned renovation was estimated at between $500,000 and $700,000.
In 1999 we signed a 3-year lease with the City of Euclid. As a condition of the lease we were required to contribute $20,000 and complete the east porch renovation. It was determined that in order to increase event occupancy it was necessary to increase the number of bathrooms, and also provide handicap accessible bathrooms. The Gaede Serne architectural firm developed plans, Hope construction was hired, and the two handicap accessible bathrooms were located in what was the old “east porch”. The funding was provided by the Friends of the Henn Mansion, and the City of Euclid. A mailing to our membership raised $9,682.00 for the project. Total cost of the renovation was $45,000. During this year we applied and received grants from TRW, The Gund Foundation, PPG and the Cleveland Restoration Society.
In 2000, a second grant from the State of Ohio was obtained through State Representative Ed Jerse in the amount of $75,000. This funding was used to replace the original copper gutters and downspouts, complete repair of the roof, repair of the entry vestibule canopy, increased fire protection, updated security system, and restoration of the leaded glass windows and doors. With money remaining the next project became the restoration of the remaining windows with new storms and screens for all windows.
In the spring of 2000, the Albert W. Henn Mansion was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The renovation of the building continues on a project by project basis as funding becomes available and is coordinated by the Friends Board of Directors. Many ceilings have been patched and painted, historically acceptable lighting fixtures have replaced the fluorescent lighting, walls have been repaired and painted, and three wood floors have been sanded and refinished.
In addition, the kitchen has been patched, repaired, repainted, and renovated to a more historically accurate appearance through removal of lighting and cabinetry installed during the period of city occupation. A local company donated their time and expertise replacing the landing, dining room ceilings and third floor ceilings and drywall. In 2003 a new boiler was installed and the balcony floors were refinished.
In 2004 the 2nd floor balcony was renovated and new wallpaper hung, Updated electrical was installed on the first floor and balcony areas, a first floor window and 2 exterior doors that had been boarded over were replaced, and the first floor north porch was painted, weatherproofed and baseboard heat installed.
In 2005 work on the 2nd floor began, renovating the bedroom suites for potential business tenants who signed a lease in late 2005. In 2007-8 renovations continued, created a working 2nd floor restroom and the installation of central air on the first and second floor areas. 2009 projects include finishing off the 3rd floor with updated electrical, paint, lighting, and plumbing. This areas final use currently remains undecided. In 2010-11 the 1950’s floor tiles on the first floor were replaced throughout and planning began for renovating the northwest porch and installing an outside terrace overlooking the lake.
Through numerous fund raising events, grant seeking activities, capital campaign efforts, and individual gifts from members, the Friends of the Henn Mansion have completed over $800,000 in repairs. Membership support remains steady at 250+ members. We still have some major renovations in the future to accomplish, plus keeping up with the ongoing maintenance of an old house, so please continue your support by attending our fund raising events, becoming a member, donating to our annual capital campaign, or donating in memory of a loved one to our memorial fund.