The Cleveland homes of Eliot Ness

Did Eliot Ness live here? This question comes up time and again when people talk about Cleveland’s favorite lawman. Recently, Cleveland Police Museum staff examined primary sources, including city directories, telephone directories, draft cards and more, to determine Ness’s various residences across Greater Cleveland. Below are the six places Eliot called home during his twenty years in Cleveland, along with the places his widow and son lived in after Eliot’s death. It seems that the Ness’s rented all of their homes.

On December 11, 1935, Mayor Harold Burton hired Eliot Ness as his Director of the Public Works (now called the Safety Director). Upon arriving in Cleveland, Eliot and his wife Edna moved into a cottage overlooking Lake Erie in Bay Village. The cottage was loaned to him by Robert Chamberlain, a Cleveland lawyer who would later become Cleveland’s Assistant Safety Director under Ness.

Soon, Eliot and Edna found a more suitable living arrangement closer to downtown at the Hampton House, 10017 Lake Avenue. After spending one year in Apartment 210, the couple moved to the top floor of the building, into Apartment 512.

The stress of Eliot’s job combined with missing their Chicago family put a strain on the relationship and the couple divorced in January, 1939. Nine months later, Eliot married artist Evaline McAndrews and the couple lived in the Hampton House apartment for another year before moving to an apartment even closer to Ness’s office. Their new apartment at 1254 E. 9th (Apartment 317) was just across the street from City Hall.

Hampton House, 10017 Lake Avenue, Cleveland

1254 East 9th, Cleveland (@clevelandmemory)
1254 East 9th, 1927-1937 Map of Cuyahoga County

On April 30, 1942, Eliot Ness stepped down as Cleveland’s Safety Director to accept a job in Washington, DC as the National Director for the Federal Social Protection Program. Before leaving town, he lived for a short while at 2 Clifton Lagoon (now 830 Beach). Originally built as a boat house for automobile maker Alexander Winton, the house was converted into a family residence sometime in the 1930s.

Alexander Winton’s yacht Labelle moored next to his boat house in the 1920s. (Lakewood Historical Society)
2 Clifton Lagoon/830 Beach in the 1970s or 1980s

During their time in Washington, DC, Eliot and Evaline both traveled extensively for their respective jobs. They lived in hotels and eventually an apartment near Dupont Circle. However, the traveling and stress proved too difficult and the couple separated in early 1945 and eventually divorced on November 17, 1945.

After the Federal Social Protection Program shut down in 1945, Ness returned to Cleveland and began dating artist and potter Elisabeth Anderson Seaver. Sometime after their marriage on January 31, 1946, the newlyweds moved into a mansion in the eastern suburb of Bratenahl, at 10229 Lake Shore Boulevard. During this time, Ness worked as the Vice President of the Middle East Company.

10229 Lake Shore Boulevard, Bratenahl

When Ness launched his campaign for Mayor of Cleveland, he and Elisabeth moved back to the city. Although his 1947 election bid failed, the couple remained in Cleveland, living in Apartment 1, the spacious “garage apartment” at 1972 Ford Drive, near the campus of Western Reserve University. For several years, Ness worked as the Board Chair of Diebold Corporation and then in a variety of short term jobs. The couple and their son Robert Eliot lived here through 1955.

1972 Ford Drive (Cleveland Public Library/Photograph Collection)
1972 Ford Drive, 1927-1937 Map of Cuyahoga County

Ness accepted a job to manage the Guarantee Paper and Fidelity Company of the North Ridge Corporation, which was based in the small town of Coudersport, PA. Eliot, Elisabeth and Robert moved into the lovely home at 105 E. Third Street, where they lived for eight months before Eliot’s untimely death on May 16, 1957.

105 E. Third Street, Coudersport, PA in 2019
105 E. Third Street, Coudersport, PA in 2019

After her husband’s death, Elisabeth Ness returned to the Cleveland area, living in a series of rented homes and apartments in Cleveland Heights. While living at 2571 North Park Boulevard from 1958-1960, Elisabeth worked at Potter & Mellon and Best Company and her son Robert attended Roxboro Junior High.

2571 North Park Boulevard

It seems that Elisabeth left the area for a few years before returning to Cleveland by 1964. In 1964, she lived with Robert at the former Briggs Estate at 2749 East Overlook Road in Cleveland Heights, which had been converted into a rooming house. But then she left the area again from 1965-1968.

2749 East Overlook, Cleveland Heights
2749 East Overlook, 1927-1937 Map of Cuyahoga County

While his mother was out of town from 1966-1968, Robert Eliot Ness attended the newly formed Cleveland State University and rented Room 704 at the Central YMCA on Prospect Avenue in downtown Cleveland.

Central YMCA on Prospect Ave at E. 22nd

In 1969, Elisabeth and Robert moved into Apartment 3 at 2112 Lennox Road in Cleveland Heights, where they lived together until Elisabeth moved permanently to San Juan Capistrano, CA. Robert continued to live in the apartment with his new wife, Sharon until his death from leukemia on October 31, 1976. Elisabeth passed away in California in 1977.