The History of our Building

The Atrium is an office building dating back to 1979. The building has been continually updated since it was first built. The five-story, 60,795 square-foot building sits on more than three and a half acres of land. The location of the building allows easy access to the freeway and good exposure in a high traffic area. The Atrium is located in Westlake, Ohio across the street from Crocker Park. 

 
 
The Atrium was one of the first commercial buildings to exploit the interchange at Crocker Road after Interstate 90 opened in the west suburbs in the 1970s.
— Crain's Business Cleveland

 
 Circa 1889

Circa 1889

 Circa 1980

Circa 1980

 Circa 2015

Circa 2015

 

The History of our Staircase

The history of this beautiful staircase begins in the late 1800s, with a wealthy brewer name Leonard Schlather.  An immigrant from Wurttemberg Germany, he moved to America at age 19 with his brother Frederick.  The Schlather brothers first settled in PA, working in local breweries until they moved to Cleveland where Leonard landed a job at Hughes Brewery in the Flats. Over the next year, he was so successful that he became able to purchase a brewery of his own.

Leonard continued to expand his business and before long, The L. Schlather Brewing Co. was the largest brewery in Cleveland.  The city was so pleased with the success of Schlather’s business that they made Carroll Avenue (the street on which his brewery was located) the first brick paved street in Cleveland, just to aid with deliveries.

Schlather’s success continued to grow and his brewery continued to expand throughout the late 19th century.   In 1902 when he sold the brewery to the Cleveland and Sandusky Brewing Company for $1.5 million, it was producing 150,000 barrels per year.   

Along with his great success as a brewer, Schlather was a savvy business man, investing in property and funding the building of several establishments throughout the area.  He owned a summer home in Rocky River, which eventually grew to a 97 acre estate overlooking the valley.  He also owned 60 saloons in Cleveland and the surrounding areas.  Most famous of these many establishments was the Casino Restaurant and Cafe on Public Square - the original home of this spiraling staircase. 

The Casino Restaurant

In 1889, Leonard Schlather hired Cleveland architects Israel Lehman and Theodore Schmitt to design a three-story building on Public Square.  The style of the building, described as “Flemish architecture with a strong Victorian influence” was the foundation of the destination’s allure among the elite that would soon frequent the Casino Restaurant.  Contractor James Rockford was hired to bring the vision to life on a 43-foot frontage on the South side of Superior Ave.  Directly across the street was the old City Hall in rented quarters in the Case Building - where the Federal Customs and Court House now stands.  

 
 
A hanging staircase drifting to the second floor with no support in one graceful curve, is alone worth going into the place!
— Winsor French
 
 

Hailed as the finest restaurant in the United States when it opened in 1894, The Casino Restaurant catered to society’s elite.  It was a great favorite among politicians and lawyers, and soon became a destination for visiting celebrities as well.  The interior of the restaurant proclaimed rich Victorian opulence, with a large palm garden and a billiard room along with live entertainment.   The first floor dining room was paneled in oak, while stained glass windows graced the second floor dining room.   The extravagant decor also included murals depicting the consumption of beer throughout history and a finely crafted bar with a woodcarving of Schlather’s family crest hanging over the center; it was his finest outlet for his brewery’s spirits. Most impressive of all was the elegant hanging staircase that lead from the oak paneled dining room to the second floor.  According to press writer Winsor French: "A hanging staircase drifting to the second floor with no support in one graceful curve, is alone worth going into the place!"

Adolph Menjou, screen star of silent movie and early “talkies” days, had aided his brother Albert in running the restaurant at the turn of the century.  Albert was a well-known Cleveland caterer.  Menjou typified the formal elegance which characterized the restaurant’s early days - with wing collar, frock coats and striped trousers.  It was the fashionable place to go.  The third floor was the first meeting room of the City Club of Cleveland.

 
 
 

The Later Years

After Schlather’s death, John A. Weber bought The Casino Restaurant in 1904 and changed its name to Weber’s Restaurant.   John Weber and his son Walter ran the restaurant until 1927 when Ivan Kaveney became the newowner, but kept the Weber Name.  Kaveney ran it until his death in 1959, when it closed.  After five years of darkness, it re-opened in 1964 as the Round Table Restaurant by Charles W. Lazzaro (leased from Broadview Savings and Loan which had bought the building in 1963).  As the Round Table, its business dwindled; later it became a disco bar, then finally closed in 1977.

The building was nominated for landmark consideration in 1973, but despite the owner’s efforts to save it, was demolished in 1978 to make way for the BP building.  Thankfully much of the beautifully crafted interior was salvaged because of John Schultze of the Broadview Mangement Co.  He sold the paneling and other wood elements to a buyer who wanted to salvage the old elegance in a new location.  A few pieces had been sold separately, but most were intact and in good condition.  The massive bar is now located in Gamekeeper’s Tavern in Chagrin Falls, and the staircase found a new home, here in the Atrium.

Pictured are photos taken of the Atrium circa 1980, when live plants and birds filled this space.  The Glass Garden Restaurant thrived on the first floor adjacent to this room during those years.  Though more modern renovations have changed the environment quite a bit, we are happy to maintain the heritage and charm of this beautiful hanging staircase, a piece of Cleveland’s history right here in our own building.