Just south of what is now Bentbrook Condominiums, the former homestead of Robert S. O’Brien, was Tom Arconti’s property. Arconti’s property was approximately one acre, long and thin. Then, just south of Arconti’s was a heavily treed, 13+ acre property that belonged to Frank Mergus, owner of Mergus Restaurant. A stately, but decaying colonial home was located near the middle of what is now known as North Circle in the development of Brookview. Near the back northwest corner of the property, mere feet from the Arconti property line also stood an old barn. The restaurant closed after Frank died in 1980 and though it reopened under new ownership, it closed for good in 1988.
What made the property unique was that it surrounded the Arconti property and connected with the Bentbrook property. Mr. O’Brien, obviously being familiar with the Mergus property, walked the grounds where he surmised the property line would be and thought to himself that this was “a diamond in the rough”. He felt that with the trees, the views, the creek and the location, it would make for a wonderful place for people to live. Mr. O’Brien was known for building homes on individual lots but was also the developer of Bentbrook Apartments – which were later converted to condominiums.
South of the Mergus property was the home of Frank Flood which, again was about one acre in size with a home that was in terrible condition.
Mr. O’Brien was unsuccessful at negotiating a price for all three properties, so his dream of what could be built had to be altered.
Rather than being sold at a specified price the Mergus estate decided to accept bids on the property. The transaction would be administered by the George D. Harter Bank which later became Society Bank. Black, McCuskey, Souers and Arbaugh were the attorneys that saw the deal through.
Mr. O’Brien place a bid of $400,000 for the 13 acres and home and barn and won the bid. He said he never learned if there were any other bids for the property and laughingly said that he never knew if he had overpaid for the property. What was clear from the very beginning was that he wanted to develop the Mergus property in a traditional style of architecture that would be both timeless and low maintenance. The tutor style fit the bill nicely. Spending that much money on building, primarily, speculation condos was a risky thing but Mr. O’Brien felt confident that if he built them well, people would surely buy them. Once people saw the diamond taking shape, however, they came with their own ideas of what they wanted and of course they were accommodated.
Tom Klingensmith was contacted by Mr. O’Brien to develop a land plan and be the primary Architect. Mr. O’Brien had the zoning restrictions waived so that he could build the units a little closer than the 25’ minimum but still maintain the sense of privacy. Each unit was laid out on a particular lot and it was decided to start with the units along the ridge of the property beginning in 1982. The block and brick were bought from Mathie Supply and the lumber, of course was supplied by O’Brien Lumber Company. Mr. O’Brien Wife, Betty, earned a modest income for each unit she decorated. She is a naturally gifted interior decorator. Mr. O’Brien decided to sell the units himself, a decision, he admitted, he would do differently as it took longer than he had planned to build out the development. Once one or two of the units were sold in a building, Mr. O’Brien would start on the next building, hiring whichever carpenter crew was available to do the work at the time. Gordon Persons, Doc Sommers and Stan Sirak were the first to buy units in Brookview.
Usually when developing a project of this size, there would be a lot of left over dirt that would need to be hauled away. Mr. O’Brien contacted Mr. Tom Kolp who had property on 55th Street who agreed to accept the dirt but once digging began, it was found that the property was rich in sand and gravel, so it was used right on the property. The discovery also meant that the drainage around every unit was excellent for dry basements. Whenever there was earth to be moved, Mr. O’Brien would be close at hand, loving to watch the guys operate the machinery and remembers when they were digging the hole for 224 Brookview Drive (Chuck and Jane Gulling’s home) and the excavator hit the huge rock that now rests near their driveway. The rock was so heavy that it had to be rolled there, not lifted. Similarly, when digging the hole for the O’Brien basement (246 Brookview Drive) another large rock was discovered which now sets outside the O’Brien patio.
As Brookview was being built, Bob DeHoff approached Mr. O’Brien saying that he had a contract on the Frank Flood property, to the south of the Mergus property. While it was only a little over an acre, Mr. O’Brien saw it as a continuation of what he had started at Brookview and ended up buying it. This would be the property that is now known as Pebblebrook. The house that was on the property was in great disrepair and would need to be torn down, like the Mergus house. The entrance to the old Flood property can still be seen on Main Street but leads to nowhere.
The only thing that could be salvaged was the old flagpole that now displays the stars and stripes near the entrance of Brookview, by the post office boxes.
Tom Klingensmith had done a great job laying out the locations of the buildings and adhering to Mr. O’Brien’s request to save as many trees as possible but there was a section of property that couldn’t accommodate a multiple unit building. Mr. O’Brien would take a folding chair and sit on the property and just think about what would go there so in 1989, with his former residence requiring a great deal of time and attention, he had Tom Klingensmith design a single unit to go in the location that is now 246 Brookview Drive with the stipulation that certain trees not be removed. Unfortunately, there was a large beech tree behind the unit that blew down during a severe storm so it had to be removed. In its stead is a bronze statue in the middle of the patio. Because he had looked upon the brook that now combined both his old homestead and the location of his soon to be final homestead, it seemed natural to Mr. O’Brien to call it Brookview. Once while walking around North Circle Drive, Betty O’Brien encountered the late Judge Mylett who yelled to her, “This is the best place in Canton to live”. Most residents resoundingly agree.
Below you will find downloadable instructions on locating the most up to date Brookview Condominium Association documents via the Stark County Recorder Website.