EY Ernest House Exteriror Hero

Preserving the historic home of A.C. Ernst and celebrating its EY ties

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Step inside the lovingly restored Alwin C. Ernst House, first owned by the Ernst & Ernst founder.

In brief
  • The Alwin C. Ernst House was first owned by A.C. Ernst, who founded one of the building blocks of today’s EY organization.
  • The home is now owned by an EY alumnus, whose respectful renovation received an award from Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Finding a home can be a journey filled with twists and turns, but sometimes the destination is more surprising than expected. When Don Kimble, EY alumnus and recently retired CFO and Chief Administrative Officer of KeyCorp, and his wife Becky moved to the greater Cleveland area in 2013, they came across a house that has an enduring connection to the EY organization and its history.

Nestled in the tree-lined Euclid Golf Historic District of Cleveland Heights, the Tudor Revival house was first owned by A.C. Ernst, who founded Ernst & Ernst in 1903 — the start of one of two great firms that went on to form what we know as EY today. Don, who began his career at Ernst & Whinney’s Cleveland headquarters in 1982, was intrigued by the connection.


“As we were thinking about purchasing this house, we were able to learn more about its history,” Don says. “Even though the home is over 100 years old, we are only its fifth owners.”


The Alwin C. Ernst House at 2540 Fairmount Boulevard was designed by architects Howell and Thomas for the B.R. Deming Company, a real estate developer who sought to create a planned community filled with distinctive residences in one of Cleveland’s original streetcar suburbs. A.C. Ernst and his family purchased the home while it was under construction and began living there in 1920. After Ernst died in 1948, his family sold the home in 1950 to John Carlin, a prominent area attorney. In 1985, Patrick Parker, the former chairman of Parker Hannifin, and his wife, Madeline, purchased the home.


The Kimbles are the latest in this line of notable owners, and they’ve proven to be consummate caretakers. Their respectful renovation received an award from the city of Cleveland Heights and features a number of notable details. Don and Becky recently invited us inside their home, the Alwin C. Ernst House, to learn more about its history, view some of their favorite rooms and tour its exquisite grounds.


How did you come to make your home on Fairmount Boulevard?


We love the home and its history and connection to A.C. Ernst only makes it that much more special. When we first visited the Ernst house, we knew it was the one. It had the character we were looking for; it had a floorplan that made sense; and there was space for gardens surrounding the home to complement its architectural features and design. While the home needed a lot of attention and care, we could see its potential and that was exciting to us.


What are some of your favorite features of the home?


One of the first things we noticed was its floor plan. That might sound weird, but in so many of the older homes we visited, it was difficult to understand why the rooms were arranged the way they were. This home’s floor plan was straightforward, and it also highlighted the gardens. You could see the design was intentional as the architects integrated the grounds outside with the interior, and the opportunity to restore and realize their vision was really attractive.


We also appreciate the detailed woodwork and plaster decorations throughout, along with the exterior’s stonework and structural features. It is amazing to see this detail and appreciate the craftsmanship required 100 years ago to build the home — it would be impossible to replicate today.

A photographic portrait of Alejandra Preciat

What did the home require in terms of renovation and modernization?

We knew the home was going to require a lot of work and were eager to bring the necessary attention to every last detail, but the scope expanded greatly as we started the renovation. When we opened up the kitchen and bathrooms, we realized the infrastructure needed to be reinforced, so we replaced more than 30 beams. As we did this, we had to support the first floor with temporary poles. Then the plaster walls on the second floor all started to crack, requiring us to replace all of the walls and much of the flooring.

That was just the beginning. The home had only 100 amps of electrical service, so we had to purchase additional capacity from the electric company. To give you some sense of those limitations, before that update was made, you could not run a window air conditioner and a hair dryer at the same time. With the walls open upstairs and the new electric capacity, we decided to replace all of the heating, air conditioning, electric and plumbing. This also allowed us to renovate the kitchen and all of the bathrooms, all while ensuring that we preserved the historical look and feel of the home.

What elements of the renovation are you especially proud of?

The remodeling involved many skilled craftsmen to restore the home’s character and maintain its integrity. It was amazing to see the work of the plaster experts, the woodworking done by the Amish and the attention to detail from all of the team. This was especially true with a room in our basement restored by our contractor Residence Artists, who recrafted the linenfold woodwork and rebuilt the bay windows. It’s now one of our favorite rooms in the house.

We also love the individual gardens and park-like features surrounding the home. Impullitti, our landscaper, incorporated the property’s existing historic aspects while adding new features that look like they were always there. For example, we added a fountain several years ago, and it’s such a good fit that the family members of previous owners have told us stories about remembering photographs of their relatives in front of our new fountain! This confirmed that our renovation is consistent with the home’s original character.

Are there any other noteworthy stories you’ve encountered while owning the house?

As we were renovating the den, we found a letter one of the Ernst daughters wrote to her younger sister. The older sister described her great experience at a boarding school and encouraged her younger sister to join her. This letter helped personalize the home and some of its first owners.

What will you miss most about the Ernst house if you were to move?

We love this home and hate to think about leaving it, but we would like to move closer to our children and grandchildren. We still walk through the home and constantly challenge whether we really want to leave. We love everything about the house and the gardens and all the memories we’ve created here, but we also realize we have been a caretaker for the property and will want to turn it over to the next caretaker to follow us.


The Alwin C. Ernst House in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, has been lovingly restored by Don Kimble, an EY alumnus and the recently retired CFO and Chief Administrative Officer of KeyCorp. The house was first owned by A.C. Ernst, the founder of EY predecessor firm Ernst & Ernst.

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