Interviewee: Shaman, Molly OH#385
Interviewer: Emily Weaver and Dr. Cameron McMillan
Transcription Date: 9/18/07
Processed by: K. Clemons
EW: This is Emily Weaver and I am with Dr. Cameron McMillan and Mrs. Shaman, at her home. And we will be discussing the historic neighborhood in Cleveland. Do you willingly participate in this oral history project?
EW: Thank you
CM: Thank you so much. And Molly, how long have you lived in this house?
MS: Since 1979
CM: 1979. And what changes have you made to the house?
MS: Oh, quite a few actually. When we moved in, it was four apartments. There was a wall between the foyer and this living room. We took it out, and just did a partial. We made renovations in the kitchen; and made it into a kitchen and a laundry room. We expanded the porch very slightly, out toward the street. Upstairs, they had two apartments, and they had closets out in the central hall. We took those out, because you had to go into one bedroom to get to the other bedroom. So now the access is from the hall to all four bedrooms. We did four bathrooms, three for the bed and breakfast and another one down here. We did some renovations on the back porch, but the porch was here and it’s the same size. But it’s a little different materials. And we updated where we could. I think that’s about… Oh, we added a studio on the back for Floyd and then an annex to that. Those were not here.
CM: When did you start having bed and breakfast?
MS: 1996, in June
CM: Do you know the history of the house?
MS: I know a very little bit. They say that there’s a little bit of it in Linton Weeks’s Cleveland Centennial History. So there’s some information there. They said that A.C. and Kate Burford Ray, who are Ben Bailey’s great-grandparents; and Ben Bailey lives here, or used to. I think he worked for Sanders, Steve maybe. The house was built before 1905. I found records in the courthouse, but I don’t know exactly when. His grandmother’s brother and sister, Mitty and Kitch, lived here.
CM: Did Ben Bailey live here?
MS: No, he did not. And this was, at one time, Ms. Mitty Ray’s boarding house. So we’re, just sort of taking it back to… And they said in 1921, I think they had up to 30 guests. Now I don’t know if that would have been at one time. I would think over the course of the year maybe, but… that’s when they moved. The Ray family came from Tate County in 1912 and bought this house. So before that, I really don’t… You know, I guess… It’s a little confusing. And I’m not sure. And I never got back over to the courthouse to really pin it down. But I was trying to think what year it showed up on fire records, you know at the library on those… they’ll show the aerial view of all the houses on the street. We redid the front room, foyer, living room and kitchen. Windows are the same size, but replaced for the most part because the old glass was fragile (we repaired windows for many years – originally we re-puttied all the downstairs windows and because of rotting wood of frames and sills.
CM: Is there some original architecture of the house still around? Is some of the original architecture still here?
MS: Are big footed tubs considered “architecture?” Anyway, there were 3. Two standard sizes which we still use and one smaller which we removed. The hall shows more original construction under old wallpaper it is boards.
CM: It looks like around the doors, perhaps.
MS: Yes. Yes. Not these, but those with the bull’s eye. And that was typical around the house. And for the most part, it still is. We kept the original door facings and original windows in the dining room. Original bathtubs downstairs and cowboy bath both were repainted. But when we did this room, Floyd, my husband did the different blocks around the corners of the doorways and windows. And he did upstairs for our children, too. And I think that’s probably all (words?) but the glasses we replaced and transoms.
EW: Are the windows the same size (words?)? They don’t look like (words?).
MS: These aren’t. They are in the dining room. Those are the windows that were here when we moved in. This is a little wavy.
EW: The doors?
MS: Most of the doors are ones that were here.
CM: How many people could you have in the bed and breakfast?
MS: Probably nine, as far as four bedrooms times two people and a roll away. We have one roll away.
EW: What attracted you to buy this house?
MS: Size and location. Because we had six in our family, and we liked this part of town. And the house was not for sale, and we contacted Vera Jacobs who owned the house and she was willing to sell it.
EW: Was she living here at the time?
MS: She was. She was living right down the street where… this is all (words?)… Maury and Dixie Knowlton lived, in the house that was Mrs. Jacobs’s.
EW: But nobody lived here in the house when ya’ll bought it?
MS: When we bought it, one of her relatives lived in the house still, like a grandson or something. But it was apartments, and they had students in and out. But he was the only one.
CM: Did each of the apartments have kitchens and a bathroom?
MS: No. Upstairs, there were two apartments; and each one had a kitchen, but they shared a bathroom, which I thought was rather unusual. The cowboy bath upstairs has the original bead board typical for kitchen and baths and it’s large claw foot tub.And then downstairs, there were two kitchens and two baths—the one that we currently use, and then there was a little bathroom under the stairs, with a little footed tub that was just had a very… It was so small, when you got in, you weren’t sure you could get out.
CM: Is that still here?
MS: No. We took the plumbing out for that. But it had a basin with a heater underneath. So of course, it heated up the cast iron of the sink. It was a little tricky in the winter. You could burn yourself.
EW: Brushing your teeth.
MS: Yea. And they had it blocked off, so you entered here. And then the other apartment, you entered through the door at the bottom of the stairs. And that had an exit outside and this one did, too.
EW: So they ran the lengths of the house?
MS: Mhmm, they did.
CM: Did you take the plumbing and everything out for all the kitchens?
MS: We did. One is now the bathroom for the Victorian room. And that’s where we started. We started with one room because it had the plumbing and it was convenient to do that. And, yeah, so we’ve taken (words?) and of course, added.
CM: So you’ve got six bathrooms in the house now?
MS: I know, isn’t that awful?
CM: Only when you have to clean all of them.
MS: Yeah. Yeah. But it was nice coming from a house where six shared one bathroom.
CM: Oh my.
EW: Yes, very much so.
CM: Did you heard any other stories about the house or the neighborhood?
MS: We heard that… Because we used to hear footsteps overhead in the Victorian room. My son had that room and he never heard anything. But we could hear somebody walking from the door, like around the bed and back. And I don’t know if it was just old house creaking, but nothing ever happened. And it didn’t seem to be… It was a benevolent presence, if it was one in fact.
CM: Have you heard stories about anyone who had died in that room or anything?
MS: I think we did, but I don’t know who it would have been. It would have had to have been a long, long, long time ago. And then neighbors next door used to help Ms. Mitty Ray with the boarding house, and there used to be an orchard out back. Because people can remember when there was livestock in this area and the house went all the way back to Leflore. So it was a little more rural in a way. But then, you know, Wally’s apartments down there, apparently, that’s one of the first boarding houses in Cleveland. It sits down on the end of Pearman and Lamar, on that corner.
CM: So this was a single-family home and then a boarding house and then apartments and then a bed and breakfast and now back to a single family?
MS: Right. It’s come full circle.
EW: Why did you want to turn it into a bed and breakfast?
MS: So I could work at home. And our children were all gone, so we had all this space. And that was the motivating factor. And it was wonderful. It really was.
EW: Have you met a lot of interesting people?
MS: Yes, indeed. (On the Madison series?). (To herself) Who’s the fellow on television news, White House? I don’t know. There have been a lot. Interesting people. He was probably the only name, as far as somebody.
EW: But, still, you’re opening your home when you do the home business. So you have to be very willing to share your personal space.
MS: Yes. And there was more of that than I realized there would be. I’m not a keen housekeeper; and realizing that yes, they’re going to be all through here and you’re going to have to keep it up, that was a little adjustment to make. It’s just been pleasurable. People have been wonderful. It was a good thing. And my neighbors, we checked with all our neighbors before we did it to see how they felt about it before we went to the planning commission. It was well accepted.
EW: Did you ever feel maybe threatened, or that your safety might be in jeopardy?
MS: No. Except after, well, the first person didn’t make us feel that way. But there was… There is a point where you say, ‘Oh my goodness, we just gave the key to our house to somebody who is a total stranger.’ But we never had a problem. You know, that was absolutely wonderful.
EW: Is it the feeling of the neighborhood that house makes you feel, in the neighborhood that made you feel that that was not so much of a step?
MS: I think probably so. And it seemed… A bed and breakfast owner we talked to before we opened said something like the kind of people who stay in a bed and breakfast are very nice people. They are not the type that are going to do those sorts of things. And it proved to be correct.
CM: Have you seen the neighborhood change in the years that you’ve been here?
MS: Yes, there have been quite a few people who have moved in or out. And over the years, there have been quite a few. The neighborhood has gotten better, I think. Not the people, but people have stayed… These houses have all been fixed up, which I think is beneficial. So it’s been a good neighborhood for that. It hasn’t declined, as far as I know. It’s simply gotten better and better.
CM: Your house is distinctive looking. Do you do that before or after it became a bed and breakfast?
MS: Before. My husband liked all the curly q’s and things. So, it was fun to…
EW: To decorate your home.
MS: Yes. Exactly.
CM: It’s wonderful to just look around. You see something everywhere you look. You have to be here a while to see everything. Is there a story about the mirror?
MS: The mirror belonged to my family in New Jersey and it was crated up in 1947. And when we had a house that could accommodate it, my father sent it down. So it’s been in the family probably over a hundred years, I would guess.
CM: To ship it down must have been a real…
MS: It was. It came with some other furniture (words?)
EW: Were you at all nervous about it being shipped?
MS: Yes. Well, it was in this crate. It was crated up. It hadn’t been unpacked since then.
EW: So you’d never seen it?
MS: No. I had no idea what was coming. So it was a real surprise.
CM: And you have the perfect spot for it.
MS: That’s another adjustment we made, too. There used to be a hall behind the side board there that went from this foyer all the way to the back porch. And I did close this off.
CM: Did you make another room when you closed it off?
MS: No. No. It maintained the hall and a closet underneath it.
CM: Was it difficult to hang that mirror?
MS: Yes, it was. And now, it’s resting on something. They’ve got it, and then bolted to the wall. And it’s got some moisture damage, probably. But they say, don’t touch it. So we won’t.
EW: I think I’m through. I mean, those are my questions.
CM: And I think you’ve answered mine, too. Could we take some pictures of some of the architecture?
MS: Oh, that’s fine.
CM: Can we do that?
MS: Sure. There was one thing. Somebody told us (words?) somebody sitting on our porch shot at (word?), and I can’t remember what it was over.
EW: Oh my!
MS: But this was in early days. There was some sort of exchange that wasn’t friendly.
EW: When you shoot at your neighbor, it probably is not friendly. It’s not a warning of ‘hey, look out again.’
CM: Did they kill some of them?
MS: I cannot… my memory is getting bad, but…
EW: I’ll have to look into that.
MS: Yea, look into that.
CM: So that would be Wheelers. We talked to Wheeler (words?).
EW: But we didn’t ask, though?
MS: Yea, they might know.
EW: They had a lot to say, but didn’t say about that.
MS: When we moved here, Hawkins’s, that was an empty lot. Hmm, what other things have changed?
EW: Do houses look as good as they used to? I’ve only been in Cleveland about ten years. But these houses always seem to look like they’ve been really well taken care of. Has that always been the case?
MS: I don’t know. I think they… Somebody fixed Mrs. Jacobs’s house, and she added more decorative elements I think. June Magee who used to work at Levingston’s Furniture remodeled. Like the Davis’s house next door has a section of siding that is maybe scalloped, and I think those things were. I’m trying to think back…
CM: We saw several houses on this block that had that scalloped siding. I’m thinking they were probably of the same era.
MS: Yeah, I think so, too. So that was a typical architectural…
CM: Were most of the houses on this block built about 1905?
MS: That I don’t know. And I don’t know what year the fire records were, but you could see most of the houses were here. And a lot of them had the same aerial floor or combinaiton I guess.
CM: Do you know if there were originally some (word?) buildings for this house?
MS: There may have been. Eleanor (Garrett?) would know, because she lived next door.
EW: Oh, she lived in…?
MS: She lived in this house (pointing next door). And they still lived here. She and her husband Doyle lived here when we moved in until they moved around to Leflore. But I think the MacArthur’s house had been in their family also. Did they not have a tie to that house, too? Which is the one that used to have a bakery?
CM: It had a bakery? Tell us about the bakery.
MS: Well, that’s what I’ve heard, that there was.
EW: In the McArthur house?
MS: But that part of the house is not there anymore. I think when it was remodeled, it was taken off. But when Nance’s lived there, that part of the house was still there but I don’t know how it was used. And then the apartment building behind it was there, too. I don’t know.
EW: Would that have been in the early ‘70’s then? You said when you lived here? The bakery was there?
MS: No, it was not.
EW: Oh, okay.
MS: In ’79. It would’ve been prior to that. Maybe back in the forties or something. It may be that far back. I’ll probably think of things later.
EW: Maybe we should just leave our recorder with everybody. We do sometimes. Actually, last week, we had somebody come by and they just wanted to sit in my office because they remembered things.
MS: Oh good.
EW: And they just sat there and talked to themselves and recorded. It works for us.
MS: Well, better to get as much information as you can. Is that sort of jelling as a neighborhood?
EW: This project? Oh, definitely, definitely. One thing I’ve definitely noticed is how everybody looks after each other.
MS: Yes. Even now.
EW: I mean, today, you know who your neighbors are and them knowing you and knowing, ‘Well, she’s not home today. She’s doing this, or they’re all…’
MS: We keep in touch.
CM: We talked to LePoint the other day, and she had not taken her key with her when she went to lunch. But if we hadn’t been there when she came back, she knew you had a key.
EW: And she would’ve come over.
MS: Oh, yes.
EW: You don’t do things like that unless you care for each other and that makes you (words?) in the neighborhood as well.
MS: Right. And this is a good neighborhood that way. I think it is very caring. And we could watch out for each other, get together from time to time. And it’s just a nice feeling.
EW: Oh yes. And raising your children in that atmosphere can be very comforting.
MS: It was. It was very… because we were out of town one time and our son was home alone. And he… I think it was a tornado warning or something. And he just went next door to Garrett’s.
MS: And I thought they probably had a place that they went, under the stairs or something. Instead, they calmly sat in the kitchen, I think, and ate cookies and played cards. It was sort of…
EW: Stay calm.
MS: Yes. Yes. It was not a big deal. The house has been here for a hundred years. It’ll be here tomorrow. So it was reassuring.
EW: That is true. You guys have been here for so long. If a wind came up, I think I might have to come over here, too.
MS: Yeah. Please do! And we heard… And I never confirmed it. We heard that there was a fire here at one time because upstairs seems to be more modern than the downstairs. So I don’t know. And I don’t know who…
CM: How tall are your ceilings?
MS: Eleven feet, downstairs; but eight upstairs. Donna McCaleb’s another one who remembers… I think she remembered coming here and getting cookies or something.
EW: Yeah. Yea. Eating the… Oh gosh, what were the cookies? They were like almond cookies or something. She could smell them.
CM: They were Jewish, Jewish cookies.
MS: Oh! I wonder if they were like Hebrew cookies.
EW: That’s what they were. Absolutely.
MS: Oh, those are good.
EW: Alright, well, we’ve enjoyed our afternoon with you.
MS: Oh, and you too.
EW: I’m going to go ahead and turn the recorder off.
END OF DOCUMENT