CLEVELAND - Winding atop Martin Luther King Boulevard's cultural gardens is East Boulevard. In the early 1900s homes finished by talented immigrant craftsmen for well-to-do clients lined East Boulevard, their majestic, pillared porches looking west as orange sunsets streamed through picturesque sycamores.
Most of those homes on East Blvd. were built for families with means. Families with status.
Ruby Holland grew up staring at those homes as she walked along both boulevards, wondering what type of people could possibly live in such expensive homes. What were their lives like?
Today she is one of those homeowners she used to gaze upon as a child. But, for Ruby and husband Vincent the purchase at first wasn't easy.
"We weren't even looking," said Ruby Holland. "This one popped up. We had no idea it was for sale. When we saw this house, and we live right around the corner, we love this neighborhood, we jumped on it. We had the inspection and we got it, we put in a bid."
As a matter of fact, there were already three bids and the third one, they just knew that woman was going to get it. When I called the realtor, I told her no, the Lord is giving us that house. And she laughed. And I said, He's giving us that house, and here we are," said Ruby.
There wasn't a bidding war, as it turned out.
"No. The woman changed her mind!" exclaimed Ruby. "So, I just felt this house was meant for us."
After purchasing the home in February of 2013, the Hollands began to plan out a renovation strategy. The home needed a lot of work. That's when a flyer came to their home sent by the Cleveland Restoration Society. A phone call later and the Hollands had a team of specialists on-board to give them a hand.
The Heritage Home Program offered since 1992 to homeowners in northeast Ohio has provided technical advice to those renovating often historic homes. Their aim is to help homeowners repair, maintain, and rehabilitate older homes in an effort to maintain the architectural integrity of neighborhoods in the Western Reserve.
The level of support given to the Hollands for their home has been something that has relieved their minds. The Heritage Home Program sets up inspections and expert technical advice throughout the process of the homes and families with which they work.
"It's got good bones. It has history, and we just fell in love with it," said Ruby. "We continued to talk to our banker after we bought it and he told us about the Heritage Program after we told her about all the things it needed. Electrical, plumbing, asbestos, mold. So were were so happy to hear about the program since we aren't wealthy people, so now we have contractors we can trust, the better interest rates, and the pay back because fortunately we have good credit."
Both in their sixties, married for 37 years, they had a long-time owned home. This home may be a new road to be traveled for the Hollands, but for them it's like having an honest pit crew as back-up along the route. The Heritage Home Program is also like an extra set of confident eyes.
"They've been very good about making sure the contractors we work with use the right supplies so that this house stays aesthetically like the other houses in the neighborhood. They are very good about making sure that after the work is done that they take a look too to make sure it is also consistent with what their quality is. They some people who are very good about monitoring to make sure this was done right, this needs to be done better or they need to come back and do some more work," said Vincent Holland. "They are a great resource at every level."
Home renovations haven't stopped their sights for bettering themselves, as well. After over 30 years in Cuyahoga County's Probation Department, Vincent is finishing up his work on his Ph.D. Ruby is also nearing the end of achieving her Master's degree.
Following their roof repair work being finalized this week and one of their basement rooms transformed into a laundry, their hope is to enjoy the cultural gardens right across the street from their front porch.
The 50 feet tall soon-to-be green-leaved spring sycamores will be seen at no extra charge.
For more information go to:
The Cleveland Restoration Society can found at:
3751 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
The Heritage Home Program serves homeowners in Cuyahoga, Summit, and Geauga County, among others. Since 1992 they have provided technical advice to over 5,500 homeowners on projects totaling $119 million. Their loan program has helped revitalize 1,020 homes totaling $37 million in neighborhood reinvestment, according to the Heritage Home Program site.