Reporting and writing by Mark Schweitzer; Photos by Charlotte Gintert
When most people visualize the “Queen Anne” architectural style, they probably think of something like the home at 110 Merriman Road, just west of where West Hill transitions to Highland Square. With its impressive front gable, welcoming porch and picturesque cone-roofed turret, it exemplifies the style as well as any Akron home of the period.
Built in 1888, this was the home of prominent Akron lawyer Charles R. Grant, who had a successful career and a pretty remarkable life.
Born in New Haven, Conn. in 1846, the 15-year-old son of a shoemaker went off with an older brother to join the Union forces during the Civil War. He served primarily as a courier and may have served as an aide to the commanding general of the Union forces in Louisiana after the fall of New Orleans. His last duties as a soldier were to escort three wounded officers back home to Connecticut.
Following this, he moved to Ohio and settled on a farm in Cuyahoga Falls. He graduated from Western Reserve College in 1872 and was admitted to the bar in 1874. Grant’s law practice was highly successful and he became prominent in both legal and political circles. He was appointed a probate judge in 1882 and re-elected twice, serving until 1891.
This called for a distinctive and appropriate residence for a man who had become one of Akron’s leading citizens. At the time Grant built his house, East Market Street was still home to most of Akron’s leading families — but that was just beginning to change. Even before the advent of the rubber industry, prevailing winds tended to blow the airborne byproducts of the machine shops, farm machinery works, printing plants and clay product factories eastward. More and more successful business leaders realized that, if this pattern continued, it might be better to locate their new homes on the other side of town. As a result of this trend, Grant selected a convenient location on Merriman Road, just west of where it intersected with West Market Street.
Set back from the street on a high knoll, the imposing wood frame home is set on a stone foundation, and features the mixed exterior treatment of wood siding and cedar shingles so typical of the style and period. Among the most attractive features are the huge overhanging gable that tops the facade, with a bulging arched balcony set back into the shingled surface. This is balanced by the elegant tower on the northeast corner, with its domed cap, period windows and ornate wreathed panels between the second and third stories.
The welcoming front porch, while spacious, does not extend all the way across the facade as one might expect; it may have had more ornate support columns or additional trim work at some point, perhaps removed to ease maintenance. As it is, the home retains most all of its original exterior charm and high style.
As an architectural style, Queen Anne is an original combination of gothic-inspired Victorian forms and free-style adaptations of classical detail. One architectural writer described it best as “a gothic game played with classical counters.” The English architect Richard Norman Shaw, who is usually identified as the father of the style, boosted its popularity, and in America, its design elements were smoothly merged into the Shingle Style of residential architecture that was so common on the East Coast.
Judge Grant was able to enjoy his home for many years after its construction. He had taught law courses at Buchtel College, and when the Akron Law School was established in 1921, he became its first dean. He was a Judge of the Eighth District Court of Appeals from 1912 until 1919, and his civic and community positions were numerous, serving with the Akron Public Library, the Akron Board of Education, as President of the YMCA and also as Editor of The Akron Times, a newspaper with much political influence.
While Judge Grant is long gone and the Akron Law School was merged into the University of Akron in 1959, fans of Vintage Structures can still see his style and influence fully on display at 110 Merriman Road.