Historic Homeowner Under Siege for Restoration Work in Lakewood, OH

lakewood2011-09-03_16-47-12_5041Can a crazy neighbor, bored building inspectors, and a complacent city government halt a homeowner’s dedicated preservation efforts— and result in criminal noncompliance charges?  Apparently so, according to the owner of an old house in Lakewood, OH, a suburb of Cleveland.  In a recent posting on her blog, “1914 Foursquare,” the owner, “Nina,” shares the two-year-long saga of her work to restore a 1914 Craftsman-styled Foursquare while dealing with an intolerant neighbor and a local bureaucracy that seems as inept as it is callous.  She reportedly enjoys the support the local historical society, the Cleveland Restoration Society, and all of her other neighbors, yet the owner has received sporadic notices and citations and has made several trips to court  in defense of her right to restore her house at (what seems like) a perfectly reasonable pace.  Despite vague regulations that make enforcement seemingly arbitrary, “Nina” has supplied ample documentation, including before & after photos, to prove the progress she has made.  But to no avail.  Allegedly, a couple of officials have even privately pledged support, but then failed to follow through or intervene.  So she has gone public with her plea for common sense.  From the looks of her blog’s “Comments” section, the owner is apparently attracting support from preservation folks like John Leeke and Bob Yapp, but the issue is unresolved and the owner has requested that sympathetic citizens email her local authorities in her defense.  Read the owner’s long (and frustrating) story here.

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  1. by Restoration: a crime?! | Old House Dreams, on 10.02.11 @ 12:33 PM


    […] first read this story from Historic House Blog and found myself outraged! In Lakewood, Ohio a homeowner is facing criminal charges just because […]

  2. by Jenny, on 10.04.11 @ 2:31 PM


    and I suppose putting up a cheap, poorly built new house would be easier?


  3. by Michael, on 10.04.11 @ 5:56 PM


    Yes, a disappointing story, indeed!

    By the way, what a great name . . . Glen Gailey!

  4. by HandPaintedWoodSigns, on 11.29.11 @ 11:48 PM


    Sadly, she is not the only one to have this happen, I can relate. The week after we bought our current home, the town officials tried to condemn the house. Sometimes a great lawyer is more important than a great carpenter (or plumber or electrician).

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  6. by Jan Dregalla, on 07.11.13 @ 2:47 PM


    I have to be at the ARB in Lakewood tonite, 7/11/13. I’ve been experiencing the same thing you have for a year and a half. I’m restoring a craftsman bungalow in the west end of Lakewood. I burned off all the paint, I gutted and add to a trashed inside, repainted the outside, relandscaped and now I want to replace my porch.

    I’ve been threatened with court action even though I’m doing what the BOZ said but some other official inspected and said no progress. WHAT! It’s all I’ve been doing for the last 1-½ year with great lags in progress due to no approvals from officials, or work that can’t be done because inspections haven’t been done. I’m also doing much of the work myself. I need to talk with you more. Something is very wrong with this system.

    Please email me, so I can send you my number.

  7. by Michael@HHB, on 07.12.13 @ 8:50 AM


    Hi Jan!

    You should definitely get in touch with the homeowner who had the same problem as you! There is a link to her own blog at the end of my article. Good Luck!!

    Michael @ HHB

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