U.S. Senator M.A. Hanna: Part I
Updated: Feb 29, 2020
“Senator Hanna bought part of Twin Elms and made it famous. The McKinley election was planned in the famous summer house which finally fell over into the lake. Leonard C. Hanna built next door and we all became intimate friends.” – Jacob Bishop Perkins
In the late nineteenth century, Jacob Bishop Perkins (1854-1936) owned most of the land that is now the Edgewater Neighborhood and Edgewater Park. His holdings in Edgewater were known prosaically as Perkins’ Farm even though farming was never undertaken on the land. More poetically, his estate in Edgewater was known as Twin Elms. However, this article is not about Mr. Perkins or Twin Elms, rather, it is about the most famous resident of Edgewater, Marcus Alonzo Hanna, and his then equally famous estate, Glenmere.
Marcus Alonzo Hanna (1837-1904) was an extraordinary man who features prominently in Cleveland, Ohio, and American history. His careers were multiple, and his successes far outshone his failures. He was an industrialist, owner of the Westside Railway and its successors, publisher of the Cleveland Herald, Republican Party eminence, President William McKinley’s campaign manager, and twice elected U.S. Senator. He even, for a time, owned and operated the Euclid Avenue Opera House. His legacy was broad as he had a major role in the economic prosperity of Cleveland as a businessman, the election of President McKinley as a “political boss,” and the building of the Panama Canal as a senator.
Mr. Hanna was born on September 24, 1837, in Lisbon, Ohio. He moved to Cleveland in 1852, where he attended high school with John D. Rockefeller. On September 27, 1864, he married Charlotte Augusta Rhodes, in spite of the spirited disapproval of her father, prominent west side community leader, Democrat, and businessman Daniel Rhodes.
Originally, the couple resided with Mr. Rhodes in his Franklin Boulevard mansion, later moving to a small home on Prospect Street. After a series of unfortunate business setbacks left Mr. Hanna financially exhausted, he and his wife returned to Mr. Rhodes’ Franklin mansion and Mr. Hanna was brought into Mr. Rhodes’ business as a principal. Once Mr. Hanna became a principal in Mr. Rhodes’ company, he and the company prospered.
Jacob Bishop Perkins sold Mark and Charlotte Hanna a portion of Twin Elms on which they built a residence in 1889. They called their estate “Glenmere.” It is at Glenmere that they raised their daughter Ruth Hanna, who married Joseph Medill McCormick, owner of the Chicago Tribune and later a U.S. Senator. After Senator McCormick’s death, Ruth went on to marry U.S. Representative Albert Gallatin Sims. But Ruth Hanna, not one to merely be associated with politicians, was an able politician in her own right, having served as a U.S. Representative in Congress and being the first woman to be the nominee of the Republic Party for a U.S. Senate seat.
The Glenmere Estate
Charles Frederick Schweinfurth was the leading residential architect in Cleveland during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, responsible for more homes on Cleveland Millionaire Row on Euclid Avenue than any other architect. Naturally,
Mark Hanna engaged Mr. Schweinfurth to design and build Glenmere when he came to the Edgewater neighborhood at the invitation of Mr. Perkins.
In The Life and Works of Charles Frederick Schweinfurth – Cleveland Architect, R.A. Perry records the following about Glenmere:
The most original “Shingle Style” residences of Schweinfurth’s early period were two summer homes designed for United States Senator Marcus A. Hanna and his brother Leonard. Both of the Hanna houses were completed in or around 1889 and were located … near the shores of Lake Erie. The Hanna designs reflected a horizontal emphasis which was new in Schweinfurth’s work, and both designs had two facades.
“Glenmere,” the summer residence of Marcus A. Hanna, was probably the earlier of the two designs and was the more elaborate. On the south façade of “Glenmere” was a projecting carriage porch below an enlarged version of the “Shingle Style” Siamese gable, but decorated with contrasting stripes in imitation of English half-timber construction. The hexagonal cupola which had been used earlier on the Dellenbaugh and Nye designs also could be seen on the roof at “Glenmere.” At the south west end of the façade was a double tower motif which penetrated a boldly projecting gable in an unusually dramatic manner. It has not been possible to locate any prototypes for that feature which was apparently original.
The lake façade of “Glenmere” reflected a different character from the entrance façade. The main features of the lake or north façade were a wide porch supported on Tuscan columns, a second story loggia, and a number of gables, circular towers, and clustered chimneys which projected from the steep pitched roof.
“Glenmere” was the scene of many splendid parties and other social events in Cleveland, and its owner was an important figure in American history. The plan for “Glenmere” included a spacious entrance hall with a baluster screen pierced by an oval opening located in front of the staircase.
The dining room contained an elaborate mantel with a veined marble fireplace and the dining room included a classical-inspired mantle finished in white and gold which links Schweinfurth with the Colonial Revival style.
The interior decorations at “Glenmere” were the most elaborate since the Everett mansion of 1883. The Marcus Hanna residence was Schweinfurth’s largest “Shingle Style “design. The decidedly horizontal emphasis of the design and the use of decorative half-timber framing were the closest Schweinfurth ever came to the design of a Shavian manor house.
Sadly, Glenmere was demolished in the early 20th century. Fortunately, Glenmere was sufficiently famous that pictures of it appeared on contemporary postcards and it was featured in heavily photographed publications, including Inland Architect and News Record.
In the next article, we will talk about the campaign which won William McKinley the presidency of the United States, which was planned and largely executed at Glenmere, and Ruth Hanna’s “Wedding of the Century,” which was hosted at the Glenmere Estate and brought, among others, President Theodore Roosevelt to the Edgewater neighborhood on a sunny June day in 1903.