CENTURY HOMES: Tom and Catherine Lekas

Address: 7225 SW Hunt Club Lane
Originally Built: 1910
Original Owners: Ambrose & May Warden Cronin

The most recent home to be designated as a Century Home was the home of Catherine and Tom Lekas.  This house was built for an original member of the Portland Hunt Club, Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Cronin who then moved from Portland in 1911 to Garden Home.  The Century Home Committee members, Virginia Vanture, Stan Houseman, Garden Home History Chair Elaine Shreve, and Board Representative Sasha Kaplan were there to present the plaque and a booklet specifically written for this Century Home.  A special guest was Tom Hubka, member of the Architectural Heritage Center and architectural historian.  The group was joined by the Lekas’ daughter, their daughter-in-law and five of their grandchildren.  Catherine Lekas surprised everyone with a freshly baked lemon cake and coffee which was enjoyed on the tree shaded back porch.

History

Joseph Jacobberger, a Portland architect well known for his Craftsman style architecture, designed the home.   In addition to residences, Jacobberger along with his son Francis, designed a number of churches and public buildings in the Portland area.  The home was constructed in 1910 for Ambrose M. Cronin, Sr. and his wife May Warden Cronin.  Built as a summer home, the house allowed the Cronins to enjoy the social activities of the Portland Hunt Club. Ambrose was one of the original members and served as an early president.

Ambrose was the manager of the Cronin Company which was founded by his father P.J. in 1878 on Front Street in Portland.  The company was a leather, harness and saddle manufacturing firm.  The business was quite successful but as time went on, the popularity of the automobile forced the company to convert its merchandise to auto accessories and tires.   The Cronin Company continued and eventually split into two entities: one retained the name Cronin Company and is a wholesale supplier of flooring material; the other is Electrical Distributing Inc.  Both businesses are managed by descendants of Ambrose and Mary.

The current owner, Tom Lekas, is a retired attorney whose interests over the years have included hunting and fishing as well as being a bagpipe player with the Clan Macleay Pipe Band.  Tom and his wife Catherine raised five children in the house and when Catherine was asked what she might like future owners to know about their family experiences living in the house she suggested this be included:

Mysterious family bell from Lekas Century Home

Mysterious family bell from Lekas Century Home

The family owns a small bell, the kind of object that comes into a house for some forgotten reason and might be placed on a shelf and then forgotten for long periods of time.  For each of the five Lekas children, the bell has at one time or another rang when no one was there to touch it and with the ringing there were often heard voices, adult voices, again with no one present.  The voices might come from another part of the house, upstairs, in the hallway or from the basement but never in the same room where anyone could see someone standing.  Never could they convince their parents of what they had experienced.  But each child believed the others.  One frightening evening the bell rang and when those who were home investigated and found the bell had been moved from where it had been placed on the shelf.  Friendly Spirits?  Who is to say?  The younger Lekas’ experiences have become part of the family history.

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2 Responses to CENTURY HOMES: Tom and Catherine Lekas

  1. Pingback: July 2016 News | Garden Home History Project

  2. Mike Norris says:

    We lived next door to the Cronin house from from 1943 until Ambrose died and the Lekas’ moved in, early 1960s? The driveway was as excellent home made soap box type car racetrack, altho a little scary in the wooded sharp curves past the house which could shoot us into Hunt Club Rd. with an occasional car. The bail out turn was into the Hood’s driveway near the house, a bit safer option.
    For several years, Ambrose would hire me to mow his large lawn, not an easy task since he would wait until the grass was ankle high and I would mow with great difficulty, rake the grass piles, and remow to make it look right for $5, a handsome fee for several hours work. We had a gas powered reel mower, not the easiest for deep grass. (The beauty of a reel mower was that the engine could be unbolted and put on go karts or doodlebugs!)
    Another feature of the property was the hand dug well next to the garage on the Lane side, but we tested it and found it contaminated with gas.

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