Rating the Suburbs 2011: The Lake House

Patrick Hawkins and Cindy Washabaugh, Euclid

California. That's where Cindy Washabaugh and her husband, Patrick Hawkins, both 51, dreamed of living one day. They'd return to the spot at Big Sur where they'd married a decade ago and buy a waterfront home.

But Hawkins owns a Beachwood business. Washabaugh is a poet and writer entrenched in the local creative scene. And their children remain Midwest-bound.

So they replaced their California dreaming with a new dream: a home on Lake Erie. That meant leaving Cleveland Heights, where Washabaugh had lived for 20 years.

Washabaugh and Hawkins hunted on and off for nearly three years for the right lake house. They looked from Rocky River to Willoughby. But gradually their focus narrowed to Euclid, where they found an affordable community centered around lakefront living, with relaxed, racially diverse residents and easy accessibility to East Side cultural assets.

"I need to be close to the things I love," Washabaugh says of spots such as Nighttown and University Circle and their Cleveland Heights friends.

In Euclid, Washabaugh and Hawkins discovered a 4,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath Spanish-castle-style home, built in 1925 with dramatic flair.

"We love unusual homes," says Washabaugh. "I feel like I'm in one of those spaghetti westerns."

The original clay tile roof still tops the home. A vaulted living room is a guest's first impression, with a two-story stone fireplace flanked by upstairs balconies. Wrought-iron accents can be found in doors and railings, walkways and wall borders, and the lake-adjacent backyard boasts a lanai and pool.

"Our first night, we went out on the beach, built a bonfire and had a bottle of wine," she says, "and we knew we did the right thing."

Home Inspection ...

Sold for: $235,000
Asking price: $279,900
Time on the market: 140 days

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