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Van Gorder Manor’s chapter as Willoughby House, Julia’s 1902 set to open in April

In World
February 25, 2024

Feb. 24—The former Van Gorder Manor is being transformed into Willoughby House and Julia’s 1902 and is slated to open in April.

Located at 37819 Euclid Ave. in Willoughby, the 1902 country estate was purchased by Mike Neundorfer, owner of Advanced RV, and his brother Paul, landscape architect and owner of Aristotle Design Group in Cleveland.

“It’s been quite a project,” Mike said. “We got the Carriage House done and that has three two-bedroom suites, which we’re renting now, and the Main House is just a big project. It’s all stone walls, but it’s been rewarding. We’ve had a lot of community support and the city’s been supportive, and the historical society, so it’s been a great community project.”

Since 2022, the Neundorfers, as well as a team of architects, designers and craftsmen have been restoring and renovating Willoughby House. The Inn will feature 10 suites and offer lodging opportunities in the Carriage Suites and the Main House.

Renovation underway at Van Gorder Manor in Willoughby

When the Neundorfers first looked at the Van Gorder Manor, they fell in love with it.

“My passion is restoration, significant architecture and business,” Mike said, noting that his brother shares the same goals. “We were both drawn to the vision and the possibility of what we could preserve.”

The Neundorfers both shared a goal of creating an inn, restaurant and events space to mark another chapter for the Van Gorder Manor — one that those in the community and beyond will enjoy for years to come.

Additionally, Chef José Coronado has partnered with the Neundorfers to create Julia’s 1902, intended to be a new dining and event experience for patrons. The Neundorfers are looking forward to welcoming people to dine, stay or host their catered events at Willoughby House, they said.

The first floor of the Main House will be dedicated to Julia’s, which will feature Mediterranean and Central American food, a bit eclectic, but sourced locally, Mike said.

The second and third floors of the main building are seven suites.

“There are bookings for restaurant meetings; we’re talking to people about smaller weddings, so there’s a lot of activity,” Mike said. “We’ve had some small events already, and the reception has been fantastic.”

The floors, all quarter-sawed oak and maple, have been refinished. Other renovations included tearing out bathrooms and restoring original bathrooms with classic fixtures.

“Countertops are all granite,” Mike said. “The woodwork has all been restored. We reused a good amount of thick, solid doors that were originally installed. We installed all new electrical, plumbing and HVAC, but our interior designer has done an incredible job sourcing from all over the world.”

Willoughby is thrilled about the restoration and commitment and attention to detail by the Neundorfer family, said city Economic Development Director Tom Thielman.

According to Thielman, the project in many respects represents what is best about the city, a strong dedication to historic preservation, community pride and great families who invest back into the community.

“Willoughby is home to so many unique gathering places to experience, which makes Willoughby one of the most visited and sought after business locations in Northeast Ohio,” he said.

Amid the grandeur of the former Van Gorder Manor’s historic walls, Julia’s 1902 will present an exquisite dining experience that pays respect to the building’s legacy while forging a whole new chapter in its long history, Thielman said.

According to the Willoughby Historical Society, Van Gorder Manor was designed by architect Charles Schweinfurth for Julia French Boyce. From 1903 until her death in 1915, Boyce shared the house with her daughter, Nancy (Boyce) Van Gorder, her son-in-law Albert Van Gorder, who was a pharmaceutical executive, and their five children.

On the day of the eclipse, April 8, Willoughby House will be hosting a public event from 1 to 5 p.m.

“I’m grateful for the interest and support from the community,” Mike said. “Our architect and builder, who I’ve worked with for many years, are top shelf, skilled and trustworthy.”

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