The Street called Hough Avenue went through the Hough Family’s farm. At that time the Street was referred to as Hough Road. When the Houghs died in 1866, their land was divided into several small farms. A lot of the farms were catering to the city trade. People who raised vegetables. People who raised fruit. As the nearby city of Cleveland grew, the Hough area felt the pressure to grow with it.
There was a vote to be annexed to Cleveland. And once that happened in 1872 there was a lot of improvements like sewer lines and water lines.
By 1888, the sounds of home building drowned out the last tranquil peeps of peaceful, country life.
Street after street after street was built up in the 1890s so within a decade, ¾ of the real estate that was ever in the Hough area was already built.
Then in 1890, two electric streetcars starting running through the community – one along Euclid and the other, along Hough. Large elaborate houses were built. Exclusive private schools, including Laurel and University Schools, opened in Hough. And Euclid Avenue was coined “Millionaires Row.”
Then Euclid Avenue between 55th and 65th six large apartment buildings went up. And by large I mean they were 6 or 8 stories high. And they were aimed at a wealthier class of people. The apartment people took up the slack and they started building apartments in all the remaining spaces. The apartments were filled up over-night. There were waiting lists for them. Clevelanders took to apartments like fish to water. And over the course of years between 1900 and 1920 those streets all began to change their character. They became blotted with apartments, or dotted with apartments.
Soon the grand homes along Euclid Avenue were dwarfed by towering apartment buildings.
It depressed the value of those houses tremendously as single family homes. However it raised the value of the house as multi-family real estate.
So in the 1920s, big home owners started to sell or to divide their large mansions into several apartments. Others turned their grand homes into rooming houses. And the money rolled-in.
Your house that might have had 12 or 15 rooms would now have 15 rooms for roomers.
The wealthiest homeowners headed to the new suburbs of Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights. Following on their coat-tails were the upper middle class, who also wanted to buy a house in Shaker. So there was a lot of out migration. And the in migration that took place into the Hough area started to be less affluent. Started to move to being from white collar to being blue collar.
Hough was a neighborhood in transition.
One of the most important things you can say about it is it was never an ethnic neighborhood. And that was its, maybe originally, its greatest virtue but it was also its greatest vice. It had so many people that were upwardly mobile and wanted to get in and get out, that it never developed any sense of neighborhood.
Then came the stock market plunge in 1929, and the depression that followed.
These places that use to be single family houses were chopped up into 8 units, or 10 units, or 12 units. Sometimes you’d have 35 families living in one house.
The combination of war, depression, outward migration, and greed left the once tony Hough neighborhood in tatters:
But this once grand neighborhood known for its millionaire’s row was about to ride a wave of change that was hitting other American cities approaching the 1960s .