Amity House

Amity, with its octagonal turret and gabled roofline, adds a “wow” factor to a hike through the nearby woods. Built of brick and stone, and situated at the top of a wide hill that slopes gently down to Lake Linnea; it looks like the setting of a fairy tale. The wide front door, sheltered under a central roof, opens to a wood-paneled hall. The dining room with a great bay window is directly across from the door. To the to the left is a gracious stairway and a kitchen. To the right is a cavernous living room with stone fireplace and wide windows overlooking a stone terrace. A door on the far side of the living room leads to a large side porch which connects with the terrace.

Vintage photos:

Our reference photo – conveniently dated! 1959 is two years after the Cleveland GS council bought this property.


A nicer, enlarged version. The same negative was processed individually and cleaned up for a crisper, more detailed look

The arbor vitae tree to the left of the turret is only about half its height in the previous picture. It has not even reached the height of the roof, let alone the turret. Arbor Vitae are slow-growing. Based on its size, I would guestimate this picture was taken about 10 years before the previous shot, putting it 1948-1950. The formal landscaping with clipped topiary is very different from the later, more naturalistic look.

The ivy is just starting to cover the front face of the turret and is not even visible on the two side surfaces. Ivy is fast growing, so this may only be a few years earlier than the 1950 view. But there is no topiary in sight. I would say this shot was taken no later than mid-1940’s. The house was only built in the mid 1930’s and the landscaping looks pretty well established, so it can’t be too much earlier. Maybe it was the “Before” view of a projected “Before” and “After” for the topiary landscaping project.

Two views of the back of the house. Based on the vine below the bay window and the bushes on the terrace, they were probably taken at the same time. The large TV aerial of the 1959 view is absent here.

Note the carved owl on the corner of the roof!

This 1960 snapshot shows that the carved owl is still there, but much of the elaborate ( and possibly overgrown) landscaping has been removed.

1936 as the completion date for Amity House comes from the Hilaka dedication issue of The Millwheel. It was the home of Herbert and Helen Neal and their two girls, Barbara and Janet. Herbert’s parents, Clara and Clarence Neal, built nearby North House in 1928 as a weekend and summer retreat.

The Neals owned Neal Storage Company in Cleveland. With the establishment of their orchards in Richfield, they expanded into a second line of business: “Neal Fruit Farm”. The market stand was situated just outside their front gate on the site of the old Freeman house and barns. The Freeman hitching posts on Broadview were incorporated into the outdoor fire place on Amity porch.

Herbert modernized and expanded the Fruit Farm business. But then an un-named disaster struck. A clipping from the old Cleveland Press featuring Helen Neal says that she loved life on their farm but "our house had to be turned over to a tenant, so we had to find a place to live" and thus they became city dwellers again.

Aerial view, 1980

Weather vane, Amity House turret