Gorgeous New Digs For The Children’s Musuem

The tycoons who built their mansions along Millionaire’s Row couldn’t have foreseen a day when one of their lavish residences would welcome more than 100,000 laughing kids a year—but that’s exactly what’s lined up for that famous stretch of once-stately homes.Land Bank Staff
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland acquired one of the last remaining manors available for repurposing, and no one is happier than Maria Campanelli, Executive Director of the museum.
“We’re going to take this gorgeous building and make it fun,” she says of the former Stager-Beckwith House, located on Euclid Avenue between East 36th and 40th Street. “It will be filled with rich memories.” Museum staff spent two years reviewing other properties and researching trends in children’s exhibits, and chose the Italianate and Second French Empire-style home for its spacious rooms and central location.
Originally a 10,000-square-foot dwelling, the Stager-Beckwith was built in 1866 by Anson Stager, General Superintendent of Western Union Telegraph Co., one of 40 such mansions along Millionaire’s Row.  Stager sold it three years later to interior designer T. Sterling Beckwith.  Over the next century it expanded to a 66,000-square-foot estate with an annex, carriage house and sports center, which housed the University Club.  Most recently, the house served as the main campus of Myers University.
“The old girl has a few wrinkles now.  The property had been vacant for five years,” Campanelli says.  “A pipe had burst, causing significant water damage.”  But, she adds, it’s an ideal new home for The Children’s Museum. “We will double our exhibit space and just brought in a new exhibit designer. We’re not eliminating the favorites that children have always loved, but those ideas will be presented in a new, fresh way.” A bank of north-facing windows brings plenty of sunshine into the sprawling ballroom, and both the green space in front and a huge patio behind the mansion will be used for additional programming.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank played a key role in the museum’s move. “We acquired the property, forfeited to the State of Ohio in a tax foreclosure,” says the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s,  Doug Sawyer, Special Projects and Policy Counsel. “The Children’s Museum was then able to purchase it from us for a fraction of the amount of taxes that had been owed.”
The Children’s Museum will be fully active in its current University Circle location until the home is renovated.  Once the new location is completed it will be, The Children’s Museum’s first permanent home after 37 years. “Within a 1-mile radius, you have seven organizations devoted to early-childhood learning,” Campanelli says. “That’s how much Northeast Ohio values its kids. We’re thrilled to be moving closer to our natural partners.”

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