Roundwood Manor
Last week, the 55,000-square-foot mansion Roundwood Manor in Hunting Valley was named to the National Register of Historic Places. The home is owned by Sylvia Korey, who has been attempting, unsuccessfully, to sell the mansion for nearly two decades. She wants to convert the house into condos but her zoning variance was denied by the village.
HUNTING VALLEY — Roundwood Manor, located in the Daisy Hill neighborhood, was named last week to the National Register of Historic Places making it the first residence in the village to gain this designation.
The 55,000-square-foot mansion built between 1923 and 1927 at 3450 Roundwood Road has been the center of controversy in recent years as owner Sylvia Korey attempted to convert the historic house into condos. Village officials denied the rezoning request which was taken to court by Ms. Korey.
The National Register of Historic Places is an official list of properties that the federal government recognizes as worthy of preservation for their significance.
Michael Fleenor, director of preservation services for the Cleveland Restoration Society, said that Roundwood Manor is significant because it was built by brothers O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen, the Cleveland architects famous for designing the city of Shaker Heights and Terminal Tower in downtown Cleveland.
“The downtown area was moving out east in the early decades of the 20th century, but Terminal Tower centered Cleveland on Public Square,” Mr. Fleenor said.
Roundwood Manor was also selected for the national registry due to its excellent display of the colonial revival architectural style, Mr. Fleenor said.
Philip Small, a well-known Cleveland architect, designed the mansion. He also designed The Country Club in Pepper Pike, the last phase of the Moreland Courts apartments at Shaker Square and the original Cleveland Playhouse. A few specific features of the mansion that show its age and character include an oversized portico with tall, slender columns, multipaned windows with shutters, slate floors and various pieces of brass work throughout the home.
“Many original shutters survived and have windmill cutouts in them, which pays homage to the Van Sweringen brothers’ Dutch heritage,” Mr. Fleenor said.
Ms. Korey said that she is honored with the distinction of her 30-year home, and hopes that this designation will help her plight to sell the property but still preserve its historic significance. Roundwood Manor has been on the market for nearly two decades, and she has continued to lower the price from $7.5 million to $4 million. Ms. Korey went before Hunting Valley’s Architectural Board of Review in August of 2017 and proposed turning the home into six condominiums. Board members denied the proposal, saying that they did not support a variance from the village’s zoning requirement that limits one residence per 5 acres of property. Roundwood Manor sits on 7.69 acres.
In turn, Ms. Korey filed a civil lawsuit against Hunting Valley. Her attorneys, Tony Coyne and Bruce Rinker of Mansour Gavin, LPA said that the village is not interpreting the zoning code correctly.
“At this point, it’s either the condos or demolition,” she said. “It’s been for sale for 17 years. This is another step to save this historic house.”
Potential buyers over the years have indicated a desire to raze the mansion and build a new home.
Ms. Korey said she hopes this historic listing will encourage council members to reconsider her condominium plan.
“I have always viewed my role as the caretaker of this home. The listing will make sure that this historic property is preserved for generations,” she said. “It’s good for Daisy Hill and good for Hunting Valley.”
Mr. Coyne and Mr. Rinker said that there is no indication that this transformation would have a negative impact on property value or quality of life in the Daisy Hill neighborhood.
Mr. Fleenor also said that the historical designation will not negatively impact Ms. Korey’s condominium proposal. He said that federal designations, unlike local designations, do not restrict owners’ rights to the property, so Ms. Korey could still make the Roundwood Manor into six condominiums.
In addition, Mr. Fleenor explained that in terms of historic preservation, the major concern is to preserve character defining features, even if the use of the building is adapted. He said that a condominium renovation would not negatively impact the historic value of the house.
Ms. Korey is still moving forward with her condominium plan. Her legal counsel indicated that the lawsuit against Hunting Valley is pending in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.