Bratenahl is a distinctive residential village in Ohio, founded in 1905 with a current population of 1,305 and located along the shores of Lake Erie, ten minutes northeast of downtown Cleveland. The surrounding residences built over a century ago, were progressively eclectic in their day, when their classic European grandeur helped create a lifestyle for Cleveland’s cultural and political leaders.
Dr. Eugene Blackstone, a prominent surgeon, selected two adjacent parcels in Bratenahl to be combined. This decision was the result of the need to recognize the size of space required to build a house to accommodate two 40-rank pipe organs (one English and one German). Music (sound) was a major design determinant. The space was designed to incorporate interior shapes and surfaces to resolve the issue of echo and reverberation of the two pipe organs. With musical instruments dictating size and proportion, the villa continues to reflect the same quality as its classic counterparts. The size and proportion of the space created, resulted in dimensions appropriate for music, living and dining. The residence is 9,000 square feet on three levels with open floors areas. The major space for music and living is 80’ long by 34’ wide and height of 43’. Because of sound, the spacious living areas are open to each other. The villa is oriented towards the lake, affording expansive views with floor-to-ceiling glass. The two pipe organs, one at each end, require the house to remain “solid”, with no tolerance for drifting from external or internal forces. The rigid steel frame with moment connections, creates the volume for proper sound required for the zero tolerance. The central airshaft provides tempered air and proper levels of humidity. It also controls the sound factor associated with mechanical systems. The entire house is pressurized and air is distributed at the pinnacle with return air following the open grilles at the ground level. “The spaces are deceptively simple,” described Dr. Blackstone. “There is great beauty in the apparent emptiness and magnificent sound.”