From brothel to orphanage: The history of 384 Fordham Parkway, Part 3

The subject home as it appeared in a 1938 Cleveland News photo, prior to the fire. Photo courtesy Bay Village Historical Society

The former “house of ill fame” which had the address of 23930 Lake Road at the time, was occupied by John and Cora Humphrey in 1939 according to the first Bay Directory which came out that year. They continue at that address in subsequent Bay Directories until 1944 or 1945. Samuel Goldberg’s Home Centers Incorporated sold the subject home to the Humphreys in 1943. It was in 1945 when the address was changed from 23930 West Lake Road to 394 Fordham Parkway. The Humphreys are not listed in the Bay Directory for 1946.

The 1940 U.S. Census has husband and wife 55-year-old John G. Humphrey and 48-year-old Cora M. Humphrey occupying the subject house. He is listed as a chemical salesman and she the proprietor of a children’s boarding home. They both worked 52 weeks in 1939. He earned $1,500 in wages and she earned nothing in wages. They both stated that they earned other compensation exceeding $50 in value. Perhaps whoever organized the orphanage compensated the Humphrey’s with a housing stipend?

The Humphreys' two sons, 21-year-old William F., a timekeeper for Aluminum Products (the company still exists in 2021 on Sperry Road in Westlake), and 14-year-old Richard B., reside with them at the subject house. Also occupying their home are eight “boarders,” including: Steve C. Mintos, 13; Anne M. Mintos, 11; Patricia McKay, 10; John McKay, 4; Jeanette Eckert, 8; Marjorie A Shelton, 8; Sandra Feldman, 4; and Barbara Mendlik, 4. Also listed at the same address are son John C. Humphrey, 26, and his wife Margaret, 27. John C. is a time study man at Aluminum Products, Margaret is a visiting nurse for a nursing association.

Presumably the eight “boarders” are the orphans that Dr. Francati had heard about. One of them, Steve C. Mintos, just died recently and his family contacted Dr. Francati and wanted to meet at the subject house as part of his memorial service. Steve had told his family that the Humphreys had asked if they could adopt him, but he declined. However, it appears that Steve had fond memories of living with the Humphreys.

The Bay Directory, which practically everyone in Bay is familiar with, started as a joint project of the Bay Village schools and the Bay Police Department in 1939. It may have been an attempt to limit truancy? This may explain why each address and family listed not only the parents but the children as well.

The information for the directory was gathered that first year by the superintendent of schools and a police officer. In subsequent years the information was gathered by Bay High School students and eventually in later years it became a project of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.

The copy of the 1939 Bay Directory in the Osborn Learning Center lists four boarding children in type at the subject property: Stephen Oswald Mintos, Anna May Mintos, Marjorie Shelton and Sandra June Feldman. Also written in pencil in this copy is Frederick Crego, Jeanette Eckart and "Jimmy."

The 1940 Bay Directory includes eight typed names of children boarders, the 1941 edition, nine. The next edition available at the Osborn Learning Center is 1944. Son William F. Humphrey is noted as a service member but otherwise still a member of the resident family along with John, Cora, Dick, Jack and Margaret Humphrey and eight boarders including Steve Mintos.

I was not able to find a name for the orphanage that the Humphreys ran at the subject property. I did find a deed years later for another property where Cora Humphrey transferred property to a Lutheran organization so the orphanage they ran may have been somehow affiliated with the Lutheran church.

The Humphreys sold the home to William D. and Elizabeth Mangan, who were occupying it in 1946. The Mangans sold it to Jane Hardy Bellows in 1949. She sold it to Michael and Gail Schaffer in 1971. The Schaffers sold it to the Francatis in 1993.

Dr. Francati shared several other tidbits of information about several of these former owners. According to Dr. Francati, the Bellows owned a typewriter store in old Downtown Rocky River where Salmon Dave’s is currently located. One of the Bellows daughters married a Mr. Harrison and they owned Harrison’s furniture store in Lakewood.

Also, according to Dr. Francati it was Home Centers Incorporated who owned the private park at the east end of Cliff Drive which the homeowners on the street purchased from them. I was able to confirm that the Bay View Park Association did purchase the park parcel from Samuel Goldberg’s Home Center Incorporated in 1946.

As for the fire mentioned in Part 1 of this series, it would have occurred in 1945 while the Humphreys still owned it if it led to the conversion of the house back to a single-family home.

William Krause

William R. Krause, AICP, retired as the Assistant Planning Director of the City of Westlake in 2020 after over 30 years with the city. He also served on the Bay Village Planning Commission for 5 years. He is currently a trustee with the Bay Village Historical Society and a former board member of the Westlake Historical Society. He was chair of their Lilly Weston Committee and is a member of the Reuben Osborn Learning Center Steering Committee. He is also currently a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. He has been married to Debra for 40 years and is the father of three grown children, grandfather of six and owner of a Shih Tzu named Cammy.

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Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:56 AM, 10.05.2021