Restoration specialist Jon Wagner spent days removing historic fixtures from the brick colonial home at 21280 Avalon Drive before it was demolished.


It was a community “talker.” An 86-year-old, stately brick lakeside house in Rocky River’s “Tangle Town” — so named because of the many intersecting streets in the city’s Beachcliff neighborhood — was demolished last month after the owners had just bought it for $2.6 million in October.

The 1935 six-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath house at 21280 Avalon Drive was demolished due to structural concerns. But the demolition highlights a trend in the high-end neighborhood, said city Building Commissioner Ray Reich.

“This has been a trend in that area for a very long time. People like the lake and want a little piece of it for themselves,” he said. “It’s a shame to see these houses go, but there isn’t anything that says they can’t tear them down.”

In the past four years, 11 properties in Tangle Town have been torn down to make way for new, bigger homes. They included properties on Beach Cliff Boulevard, Frazier, Avalon and Parkside drives and Aberdeen Road. The teardowns included lot splits so a second home could be built, Reich said.

The home sold for $2.6 million, but this is not the most expensive home to be torn down in that area. A home demolished in 2006 on Frazier Drive sold for $3.2 million, according to the Cuyahoga County auditor.

Michael D. Clark, purchased the home in October. After an evaluation of the property, Clark decided to demolish the house due to decaying support beams.

The demolition included tearing down the house, a nine-car heated garage and a built-in pool. The project also included removing more than $25,000 in historic fixtures such as chandeliers, windows and brass roof spikes shaped like eagles used to prevent ice and snow from falling, said Jon Wagner, owner of Wagner Family Restoration, the business responsible for removing the fixtures.

“We tried to save as much of this building as we could,” he said. “It had so many historic pieces that I wanted to make sure we could give them a new home.”

Wagner and his crew removed what they could early last month, before demolition started. What was removed has been given away or sold to interested parties across Northeast Ohio, he added.

Neighbors and officials including Reich and Police Chief George Lichman have reacted to the teardown.

“When I was a patrol officer, I loved driving through that neighborhood to look at the historic architecture,” Lichman said. “It’s changed so much since I started working here.”

“It’s a shame because that was such a beautiful and historic house,” said one neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous. “It’s structure was weak, though, so we understand why they had to tear it down.”

Historic home teardowns have been a trend along the lakeshore for years. In Bay Village, there have been 15 teardowns in the past five years. In Avon Lake, there have been 22 teardowns in the same time frame.

The area has been a popular location since the founding of Rocky River. More than a century ago, state legislator Clifton Beach owned the property, which included a mile of Lake Erie shoreline. After he died in 1902, his estate sold the property, leading to a boom in residential development in Rocky River.

The 427-acre area was renamed Beachcliff in honor of Clifton Beach and redeveloped into a suburban neighborhood.

The average age of homes in that neighborhood is 55 years old, Reich said. The cost of a home there ranges between $700,000 and $3 million, according to the county.

It is unclear what kind of home will replace the house. LS Architects of Westlake is overseeing the design process but has not submitted formal plans to the city yet, Reich said.

Contact this reporter at or 216-307-6614.

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