inventor of salisbury steak

History Tuesday – The Orchards – Lost America Home of The Inventor of Salisbury Steak

History Tuesday at Old Houses Under $50K is for informational purposes only – NOT for sale. We feature properties that cost less than $50K sometime in their history. Today, we feature “Orchards,” a Lost America Home of the Inventor of Salisbury Steak.

Orchards, also known as the James H. Salisbury residence, was designed and built by architect Charles F. Schweinforth from 1883-1885 at a cost of construction of $12,000.


Dr. James H. Salisbury

Dr. James H. Salisbury (1823- 1905) was a professor  and researcher interested in problems of the digestive system and the causes of diseases. He is perhaps better known, however, as the inventor of the Salisbury Steak. He was born in New York and graduated from Rensselaer Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science degree, after which attending Albany Medical College for his medical degree. Soon he became especially interested in the relationship of food and drink to the causation of disease and was a staunch supporter of dietary measures as cures for certain illnesses.


The good doctor served as a physician during the American Civil War. Realizing that digestive illnesses were killing more soldiers during the war than even combat, Salisbury advocated that the troops’ diarrhea could be controlled with a coffee and lean chopped beefsteak diet. Thus, his invention of Salisbury Steak. Oddly, however, he believed that vegetables were toxic to the digestive system.



After the war, Salisbury came to Cleveland and joined the faculty of the new Charity Hospital Medical College, where he gave lectures and was active in research.



Salisbury specified for his house in the Glenville section of Cleveland a space for his research and another for his medical practice.  The ground floor also had space for his family.  Schweinfurth placed the doctor’s office on the street side of the house, easily accessible from the front door.

The exterior of the house was a mixed style. Clapboards covered the first level and shingles the second level.  The tower was 54-feet high and Canada could be seen across Lake Erie. Salisbury named the estate “Orchards” for the lovely orchards that surrounded the house. Sadly, the house and grounds were demolished to make way for an interstate access road.



While his estate no longer exists, the Salisbury Steak became a staple of the America diet during World War I.  A movement to limit German-sounding words, convinced the Army to serve Salisbury Steak instead of Hamburger.


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