The Irene Lawrence Fuller House was part of the complex of homes built by industrialist Washington Lawrence in the 1870s. Lawrence had seven daughters and built a house for each.
The spacious historic home was moved from its past location on the eastern end of Bay Village adjacent to the Cashelmara condominiums to its current location at on Lake Road in the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks via a two-mile barge ride on Lake Erie in the late summer of 1984.
For the next 25 years, the house sat vacant while supporters raised money for the renovation, which started in 2009.
Renovations cost about $375,000. The money came from grants by the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, the Cleveland Metroparks, Mapleleaf Landscaping and local donors. Funds also came from naming rights to help complete the project.
The home itself – a Queen Anne Victorian structure — has an interesting history. In 1947, the Cleveland Osteopathic Association bought the land and buildings. The mansion was renamed the Bay Osteopathtic General Hospital and the Fuller House became the nurses’ residence.
In 1954, Dr. Richard Sheppard Sr., wife and his wife made the Fuller House their home. His infamous son, Sam Sheppard, was arrested by Bay Village police on the Fuller House porch for the murder of his wife, Marilyn. In 1955, the Sheppard family moved out of the home.
In 1981, then Baycrafters director Sally Price was instrumental in saving the house, which she wanted for galleries and studios. Baycrafters decided to move the house by floating it on the lake because the trip was shorter and cheaper.
Former Baycrafters board member Pat Heinke and her husband Lowell backed a bank loan that helped pay for the estimated $30,000 move to float the Fuller House to its present location. In comparison, the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company wanted more than $100,000 to drop electric lines so the home could be towed 3 1/2 miles down Lake Road.
The Irene Lawrence Fuller House finally reopened on the campus of BAYarts in January 2011.
The renovated home features new flooring, windows, roofs, gutters, heating, venting and air conditioning, floor-to-ceiling window walls, a wrap-around deck, a second gazebo and an indoor and outdoor drawing and painting studio.
It also includes are a third floor office and first floor gallery space with moving art panels around decorative columns.