A second sandstone Lilly House in Westlake?
The stone building on a knoll on the south side of the street at 30419 Center Ridge Road (just west of Green’s Garage) was placed on the Ohio Historic Inventory by the Cuyahoga County Regional Planning Commission in 1987. Some of the things that made it significant to them was its rock-faced ashlar sandstone construction, its low hipped roof and cornice line which they noted may have been inspired by Greek Revival and its hipped-roof, double-pen form, which they observe is more of a Southern Folk Victorian style.
The county auditor’s records were used to place a construction date of 1890 on the building. This is why to some it has been known as the Lorenzo Bement house, as he owned much of the property in that area around 1890. However, in the 2000s, after examining the house, local preservation archivist Drew Rolik estimated that the construction date was much older, more like 1840!
Drew also noted that the building has finely tooled rectangular blocks of sandstone on all four sides. Neither the Lilly Weston house in Westlake nor the half-dozen or so existing sandstone houses in Avon have this feature. This level of detail is typically reserved for the most prominent sides of a building.
Considering Drew’s estimated construction date, it is interesting to note that the stone portion of Westlake’s Lilly Weston house is thought to have been constructed in 1844 (based on a property split), and both Avon’s hipped-roof stone Lewis house, and William Hurst’s Stone Eagle Farm are circa 1843. Stone Eagle Farm even has “1843” chiseled into the parapet of the house. All three homes have at least some of the stone blocks finished in a similar way.
Because an old stone quarry is shown on an 1854 map of Dover, practically behind 30419 Center Ridge, it is interesting to speculate what all of this could mean. During the early 19th century there were as many as six brothers with the last name Lilly residing in Dover Township. The property on which 30419 Center Ridge is located on was first purchased by Jesse Lilly in 1823, then sold to his cousins Susan and Rial/Ryal Holden in 1830, then purchased by Jesse’s youngest brother Jonathan S. Lilly in 1845. Meanwhile, in 1844, the stone portion of the Lilly Weston house was constructed for their brother Austin Lilly. Jonathan Lilly is listed as both a farmer and a carpenter in a U.S. Census, but so far none of the brothers were found to be stonecutters or masons.
In the words of a number of people who have looked at the construction of the Lilly Weston house – it is overbuilt. Both the thickness of the stone blocks and the heft of the roof timbers are unusual for such a small house. Also a curious thing noticed recently about the Lilly Weston house is how the back wall is constructed of stone finished in three different types of techniques, randomly jumbled together, as if it was constructed of leftover dressed stone.
Could it be that 30419 Center Ridge was built as a combination stonecutting showroom and dwelling with the fine tooling on all four sides to showcase the skills of a stonecutter? This could explain the two front doors – one for the office, one for the dwelling. Was it built for Jonathan in 1845 with stone left over or rejected from Stone Eagle Farm? Was the Lilly Weston house constructed of a more random selection of leftovers the year before?
By 1848 Austin Lilly had died at age 60 (after living in Dover for 16 years), by 1849, Jonathan Lilly was dead at 36 (after living in Dover for 13 years) and by 1850 Jesse Lilly had moved onto Wisconsin where he died in 1853 at 67 (after living in Dover for 35 years). We know that the Lilly family left at least one stone house that has survived 170 years and now possibly a second.
William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 25 years. I served on the Bay Village Planning Commission for 5 years. I am a member of the Reuben Osborn Learning Center Steering Committee. I am a Board Member and Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 33 years and am the father of three grown children, grandfather of one and owner of two Shih Tzu's.