A reader of the Newburyport Political Blog sent me this information on Shaker Heights, OH.
“Shaker Heights is a PLANNED “garden community” that sprang up beginning in 1912, and became a city in 1930. It was the vision of two developer brothers, M.J. and O.P. Vam Sweringen of Cleveland. The community began with a strict and uniform zoning code, and a master plan that worked around the natural topography of the area and designated specific locations for houses, apartments, commercial areas, public and private schools, municipal and religious buildings, and parks.
Building in Shaker was controlled by a set of restrictive covenants and building guidelines established by the Van Sweringens and known as Shaker Standards. Shaker Standards prevented the community from being developed in any way contrary to how the brothers intended. Standards limited commercial development, rental property development, and residence style and size.
Standards set roof slope angles, materials, finishes, and garage placement. All residences were required to be unique and designed by an architect. Duplex residences in the community were restricted to designated areas, and were required follow guidelines designed to give the impression that the structure was a single family home.
While there is architectural variety throughout the city, most of the houses are in the style of Colonials, Tudors & Georgians. It is very lovely and very predictable.
To this day, Shaker Heights maintains stringent building code and zoning laws, which have helped to maintain the community‚s housing stock and identity throughout the years. According to the city’s website, the building department inspects every property on a revolving schedule to make sure that property owners don‚t violate any of these codes. This makes a Local Historic District seem tame by comparison.
Granted, like Newburyport, much of Shaker Heights is a National Register District, however, it is based on very different criteria than those for Newburyport. In Shaker Heights there is no hodgepodge of architectural styles nestled against each other; there are no REAL 17th, 18th or even 19th century homes. You would NEVER find a 1950s ranch house next to the 18th century mansion of a ship‚s captain in Shaker Heights.
In Newburyport, property owners can pretty do whatever they’d like to a building, and woe to the person who tries to interfere. These folks would never survive a day in Shaker Heights, where slate roofs and wood windows are ardently protected by the CITY government, hard as that might be to imagine for residents in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
The historic preservation issues of Shaker Heights, OH are unlike those of Newburyport, MA.”