Empire Builders
An Illustrated History of the Rise and Fall of Cleveland’s Van Sweringen Brothers
Text and Photography by Lauren R. Pacini
Foreword by John J. Grabowski
Early Reader Praise


"Brothers O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen left a much more visible mark on Cleveland than John D. Rockefeller but a much smaller record of their personal lives. In Empire Builders, author Lauren Pacini provides as complete an account of the Vans as the scanty records allow but compensates with a rich photographic record of their bricks and mortar legacy on the architectural face of Cleveland, from the garden suburb of Shaker Heights to the heart of downtown."
~John Vacha, author of Playhouse Square and the Cleveland Renaissance
"In Empire Builders, Lauren Pacini masterfully combines historical and current images of Cleveland and its neighborhoods to reveal the compelling story of how the Van Sweringens influenced the development of the city and how they ultimately fell short. This book brings to life the history of Cleveland from its first settlers to the impact of the Van Sweringens, and historians, fans of Cleveland, and those interested in urban development will be delighted from start to finish."
~Julie Agar M.Ed., Hawken School, Cleveland, OH
"Lauren Pacini's work expertly details—through stories and images—the past and present that binds Northeast Ohio together. His exhaustive research recounts the people and families who came to the old Western Reserve and forged a community. His camera deftly captures the physical remains of the structures that still grace the Greater Cleveland landscape, and his storytelling paints a vivid picture of the people who left behind one of the great urban areas of its time."
~Greg Deegan, Executive Director, Teaching Cleveland
Read Online Articles
Teaching Cleveland, April 15, 2024 FreshWater Cleveland, June 6, 2024  
Editorial Reviews

I first encountered the work of Lauren Pacini several years ago when I was doing research for a story about the Allen-Sullivan House, then one of the remaining nineteenth century mansions still standing on Cleveland's once grand Euclid Avenue. In the course of that research, I came across a number of photographs of the interior of that mansion that Pacini had taken. In a word, they were brilliant!

I didn't know then that Lauren Pacini was more than just a very good architectural photographer.  He is also a very good historian. In Empire Builders: An Illustrated History of the Rise and Fall of Cleveland's Van Sweringen Brothers, Pacini has constructed a detailed and moving history of the lives and fortunes—and misfortunes—of Oris Paxton Van Sweringen and his younger brother, business partner, and life long confidante, Mantis James.  Almost as a bonus, he has included in the book a number of great  photographs of places in Cleveland and its suburbs where the Van Sweringen brothers made and left their mark. The photographs alone make this a wonderful book for any Clevelander's coffee table. Pacini's book however, is much more than just a great coffee table book. [more] 

~Jim Dubelko, contributor to Cleveland Historical and Encyclopedia of Cleveland History