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Forest Hill community fundraising to save a small cottage with big ties to Cleveland's history

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Posted at 10:07 PM, Sep 15, 2022

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Neighbors in a Northeast Ohio community are banding together to save a small cottage with a big history behind it.

If you take a drive through Forest Hill, a community in Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, it’s almost like you’re entering a different era.

Tony Rupcic has lived in Forest Hill since the 1990s.

“Architecturally, I think it’s one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Cleveland,” he said. “There’s a nice tapestry of architectural styles like mid-century moderns, two-story colonials and the French Norman, locally known as Rockefeller homes.”

In the mid-1920s, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and architect Andrew J. Thomas created the development. They created more than 80 homes.

Beryl Tishkoff is the chair of the Forest Hill Homeowner’s Association.

“Most of the Rockefeller homes were built between 1929 and 1931,” she said. “We don’t touch the outside of the homes. The beautiful cedar shingles, the slate roofs, the copper gutters. All of the elements that went into making them. We want to maintain the integrity of the neighborhood and people really do care. That’s what makes it fun.”

While the homes in Forest Hill are like a blast from the past, rooted in Cleveland history, there’s a part of this community that’s in jeopardy of not having a future: the Little Blue Cottage.

The Cottage sits at the corner of Lee and Monticello Boulevard. Tishkoff said it’s a warm welcome into Forest Hill’s neighborhood.

“The Blue Cottage was originally the real estate office for the Forest Hill Project of John D. Rockefeller Sr.,” she said. “It just makes me smile. It looks like it is from a fairytale.”

The 600 square foot cottage is about 100 years old.

“It’s a symbol of the neighborhood,” said Rupcic. “This is the only example of this storybook, fairytale type of architecture in Cleveland.”

It is now the headquarters of the Forest Hill Homeowner’s Association, but it is on the verge of collapse. The foundation is sinking and the windows and floors are cracking.

“It would be a shame to come around this corner and it not be here, or there would be a monument or a plaque that says, 'Here stood the blue cottage,’ we’d like the blue cottage to stand here for another 100 years,” said Tishkoff.

After recent inspections, the Forest Hill Homeowner’s Association learned they needed about $80,000 to fix the sinking foundation.

On Sept. 1 the group sent out letters to its 1,000 members asking for help to save the cottage.

“We just sent out our first piece of literature asking for pledges and donations,” she said.

Tishkoff is going to be reaching out for grant money and businesses nearby to see if they’d like to pitch in for the cause.

“This is the thing that keeps me up at night, saving the cottage,” she laughed.

But she and other neighbors are hopeful that the tiny piece of big history will stay right where it belongs, on the corner of Lee and Monticello Blvd.

“I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think the community is going to step up and we will reach the goal,” said Rupcic.

If you’d like to help save the cottage, you can donate here.

To learn more just call the Forest Hill Homeowners Inc. at 216-932-8952.