Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cleveland’s Bygone Millionaire’s Row

There is a stretch of Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue (US Route 20) that was once known as the most beautiful street in America. It was also known as “Millionaire’s Row”, because in the late 1800s to the early 1900s the street contained the homes of some of the richest and influential people in the city and the county. Some of the names of the families who lived on "Millionaire's Row" included those of industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller; banker and industrial distributor George Worthington; arc light inventor Charles F. Brush; mining magnate Samuel Mather; industrialist and politician Marcus Hanna; John Hay, personal secretary to Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State under William McKinley; and Jeptha Wade, founder of Western Union Telegraph.
Samuel Andrews Mansion

The homes were representative of the then booming Cleveland economy and its growth and prominence in industry. Sadly, only a small number of these houses remain today, the others being overtaken by either the industrialization that brought the money here, to neglect, disrepair, and a growing urbanization of the area. Both Charles F. Brush and John D. Rockefeller had ordered their houses be razed after their deaths, as it was reported they preferred the destruction of their homes to inevitable deterioration.

A list of the locations of the homes that remain, either all or in part, is below, from the Ohio Traveler web site. (The list, however, is undated.)

Luther Allen House (7609 Euclid Avenue)
Morris Bradley Carriage House (7217 Euclid Avenue)
John Henry Devereaux (3226 Euclid Avenue)
Francis Drury House (8625 Euclid Avenue)
Hall-Sullivan House (7218 Euclid Avenue)
Howe Residence (2248 Euclid Avenue)
Samuel Mather Residence (2605 Euclid Avenue)
Stager-Beckwith House (3813 Euclid Avenue)
Lyman Treadway House (8917 Euclid Avenue)
H.W. White Residence (8937 Euclid Avenue)

Some of these homes are viewable by car, but for those that don't want to drive through the area, some can be best viewed using Google Maps Street View. Or, if you’d like to take a tour of the bygone era from your chair, here are links to some pictures of some of the homes (many no longer standing) in their golden years:

Samuel Mather mansion

Mather home sunken gardens

Charles Brush mansion

Francis Drury mansion, rumored to be haunted.

Sylvester Everett mansion

Tom L. Johnson mansion

Stager-Beckwith mansion, restored

Samuel Andrews mansion

View of the Bingham, Devereaux, Mather, and Hanna mansions

Daniel P. Eels mansion

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, All Things Cleveland Ohio.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

Integrity and Security

Money and the economy are on everyone’s mind lately. So, I thought this would be a good time to cover the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Cleveland serves as headquarters for the Fourth Federal Reserve District, an area which comprises Ohio, western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. It is located on East 6th Street and Superior Avenue, and the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings.

Established in 1914, it is one of twelve regional reserve banks that comprise the Federal Reserve System. As we are all painfully aware of right now, the task of The Federal Reserve as a whole is to ensure the stability of the American financial system by the regulation and oversight of the country’s banking institutions.

According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:

In 1914, a well-organized campaign by a group of Cleveland businessmen, financiers, and politicians was instrumental in the decision to locate the Fourth District headquarters in Cleveland. The bank, headed by Elvadore R. Fancher, opened on November 16, 1914 in the Williamson Building with twenty-three employees…. in August 1923, the bank's Cleveland headquarters moved into the $8 million Federal Reserve Bank Building, designed by the architectural firm of Walker and Weeks, at the corner of Superior Avenue and East 6th Street.

The 12-story building was constructed in the Italian Renaissance style, the design said to convey the bank’s strength and its power. It was part of the City Beautiful movement and the Group Plan of 1903; the purpose being to form a harmonized group of structures with similar design features (such as masonry, scale, architectural style), and eliminate unstructured, unplanned industrial growth.

There is an excellent article by Builders Exchange Magazine published in 2003 that covers just about everything there is to know about The Cleveland Federal Reserve, and you can find it here. This is just an excerpt, about the bank vault:

“The most important feature of any bank is its vault-and the two-story, 12,000-ton, 3,560-sf Cleveland Fed main vault is second to none in the world. The door alone weighs 300 tons. The 100-ton swinging section is precision balanced to allow a single person to close it. When closed, the door is held by 16 steel bolts, each 6 inches in diameter and weighing 246 lbs. The 47-ton hinge casting is almost 19 feet long and reported to be the largest hinge ever manufactured. The vault actually occupies a "building within a building" constructed before, and separately from, the remainder of the facility. The concrete walls of the vault "building" are 6.5 feet thick and reinforced with interlaced fabricated steel. It would take an ambitious safecracker indeed to take on this formidable opponent.”

Energy in Repose
(Now, don’t get any ideas, you won’t be able to break in, despite the fact that movies and TV shows make breaking into bank vaults look so easy.)

The sculptures, titled ”Integrity” and”Security” at the 1455 East 6th St entrance are by sculptor Henry Hering. Hering also did the sculpture “Energy in Repose” on the Superior Avenue side of the building.

There are tours available to the public;information is available on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s web site.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Severance Hall, Home of the Cleveland Orchestra

Photos from

Severance Hall, in the University Circle area, is the beautiful home of the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra was formed in 1918, and it was decided in 1928 that a permanent home for them was in order. Severance Hall construction took place from December 1929 through early 1931. It was a gift from John L. Severance, in memory of his wife, Elizabeth DeWitt Severance. Her father had been treasurer of Rockefeller's Standard Oil and he was also the current president of the Orchestra's board of trustees

Severance Hall was designed by the firm Walker and Weeks , who also designed several other notable Cleveland structures such as the Public Auditorium, the Cleveland Public Library, and the original Cleveland Stadium.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History says that when first constructed, the hall

“contained a concert hall seating 1,844, a chamber-music hall on the ground floor seating 400, and a radio-broadcasting studio. On either side of the auditorium were triangular wings that contained circulation areas, a green room, a lounge, offices, and a library. Onstage were an elevator for the orchestra, a cyclorama, and a skydome for operatic productions, as well as a large E. M. Skinner pipe organ. The hall had a unique system of colored spotlights operated by a clavilux or "color organ" for constantly changing lighting effects. In 1958, the stage was completely rebuilt, with a new acoustical shell to improve the projection of the orchestra's sound.

The architecture of Severance Hall was transitional between the Georgian/Neo-Classical style represented by the Cleveland Museum of Art across the Wade Park Lagoon and the Art Deco or Art Moderne style that had developed in the late 1920s. The main entrance is a Renaissance portico. The interior, however, is an eclectic mix of styles. The elliptical 2-story grand foyer is transitional in function with a Neo-Egyptian design, while the auditorium is both modern and traditional in its stylized ornament and color, featuring classical and Art Deco touches. The Reinberger Chamber is 18th century in design. An unusual feature of the building was an internal automobile driveway, beneath the entrance, which was closed in 1970 and converted into a restaurant in 1971.

A major renovation project, designed by David M. Schwarz Architectural Services of Washington D.C, took place between 1998-2000 (reopening in January of 2000). It restored the hall to its original grandeur, upgraded its acoustics, and also expanded and improved on the services and amenities. The changes also included restoring and relocating the E.M. Skinner pipe organ. Overall, the renovation provided The Cleveland Orchestra with the best home possible, worthy of its global status.

A very detailed history of Severance Hall can be found on the web site for the Cleveland Orchestra (here), along with a fantastic group of photographs.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information,

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cleveland’s Hanna Theatre Re-Opens

Images from GLTF
Back in January, I wrote about the history and renovation of the Hanna Theatre in Playhouse Square (“Imagine a Re-Imagined Hanna Theatre”).

The Hanna renovation is now complete, and The Great Lakes Theatre Festival will be calling the Hanna their new home. The theater will have a grand re-opening with the GLTF annual benefit this Saturday, September 20.

Here are the details from The Great Lakes Theatre Festival on their new home and on their new season:

Great Lakes Theater Festival Announces Ambitious 2008-09 Season in New Home at the Hanna Theatre

The Festival’s 47th season features a dynamic line-up of theater offerings, an expanded performance calendar and A Christmas Carol’s twentieth anniversary.

CLEVELAND, OH – Charles Fee, Producing Artistic Director of Great Lakes Theater Festival (GLTF), announced plans for the classic theater company's forty-seventh season today. The Festival's four regular season offerings in 2008-09 will take place in GLTF's new home at Playhouse Square 's Hanna Theatre while A Christmas Carol will remain in its traditional Ohio Theatre setting .

“The design of our new home is truly remarkable,” said Fee. “The creative opportunities that the ‘re-imagined' Hanna Theatre will afford our artists, our audiences and our community are absolutely extraordinary. What is particularly exciting for us as a company is that the design of our new home is really a metaphor for the kind of work that we do on stage each season… re-imagining classics. We can't wait to share this new experience with our audience. Working together with our amazing resident company of artists, our loyal and adventurous audience, our region's educators and students and with our great community partners like Playhouse Square, we look forward with optimism to the future. And this bright future begins today with the announcement of our forty-seventh season of classic theater - one that exemplifies the bold, ambitious artistic vision and dynamic, entrepreneurial spirit that has made this company great.”

Great Lakes Theater Festival's new 550-seat home at the Hanna Theatre will feature a flexible thrust stage and afford its audiences an exciting and uniquely intimate theater experience. The Hanna's new “Great Room” inspired design concept will create a single unified environment that integrates the artist and audience experience into one realm and dissolve the formal separation between the social experience of the lobby and the artistic experience of the stage. The new Hanna will offer patrons a variety of seating options including traditional theater seats , club chairs , banquettes , private boxes and lounge / bar seating . This variety of options will enable each visitor to self-define their experience at the theater.

Great Lakes Theater Festival's 2008-09 season will run from September through May and will feature a Fall Repertory, the Festival's annual holiday classic A Christmas Carol and a Spring Repertory. In the fall (September 24-November 8, 2008) , GLTF will present William Shakespeare's towering tragedy Macbeth , directed by GLTF Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee , in rotating repertory with Stephen Sondheim's enchanting musical, Into the Woods , directed by Victoria Bussert . GLTF's annual production of Charles Dickens' holiday classic, A Christmas Carol (November 28-December 23, 2008) , adapted and directed by Gerald Freedman, will mark the midpoint of the Festival's forty-seventh year. GLTF will continue its 2008-09 season with a Spring Repertory (March 25-May 3, 2009) pairing William Shakespeare's fantastic farce The Comedy of Errors with Anton Chekhov's soaring classic, The Seagull. The directors of The Comedy of Errors, The Seagull and A Christmas Carol will be announced at a later date.

The season sponsor of Great Lakes Theater Festival's inaugural year at the Hanna Theatre is National City . The season will be presented with additional generous support from The Cleveland Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, the Ohio Arts Council and SCK Design.

The Festival will expand its Fall and Spring Repertory performance calendars in 2008-09 to satisfy increased audience demand for public performances and to accommodate GLTF's significant student matinee audience. The company's Fall Repertory will expand its run from five weeks in 2007 to seven weeks in 2008. Similarly, the Festival's Spring Repertory run will expand from five weeks in 2008 to six weeks in 2009. The performance calendar for A Christmas Carol will remain consistent with past seasons.

Great Lakes Theater Festival's unique rotating repertory format has played a key role in the theater company's success with audiences over the past several seasons. The Festival returned to a rotating repertory format in 2003 with alternating productions of Hamlet and Tartuffe.

“Presenting a pair of classic plays in rotating repertory is a great challenge for artists and great fun for audiences,” said Charles Fee. "The opportunity to see a single resident company of actors perform two plays on the same stage, alternating shows every few nights, makes the Great Lakes Theater Festival experience unique in northern Ohio . Producing plays in repertory enables audience members to ‘get to know' the actors in our company on a much deeper level while simultaneously allowing us the opportunity to showcase the company members' considerable talents. It is amazing to witness the actors' transformation each night as they take the stage.”

Great Lakes Theater Festival's annual production of A Christmas Carol will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2008. Originally adapted and directed by former GLTF Artistic Director Gerald Freedman in 1989, A Christmas Carol has entertained over 450,000 adults and students over the course of its history. The production will remain in its traditional home at the Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square.

Great Lakes Theater Festival's expanded 2008-09 performance calendar includes two new features: 1) a pair of additional Preview performances and 2) a new Friday evening Press/Media Opening performance for each of the company's regular season offerings. The remainder of the 2008-09 season schedule remains consistent with historic Festival offerings. Opening Night performances of Macbeth, Into the Woods, The Comedy of Errors and The Seagull have been scheduled for Saturday evenings, while A Christmas Carol 's Opening Night is slated for a Friday night. Curtain times for all evening performances will remain at 7:30 p.m., with a 1:30 p.m. curtain time for Saturday matinees and a 3:00 p.m. curtain time for Sunday matinees. All five productions in the Festival's forty-seventh season will continue to offer sign interpreted and audio described performances as well as the popular Director's Night and Playnotes pre-show discussion series.

Subscriptions to Great Lakes Theater Festival's 2008-09 season will go on sale to the general public beginning April 1, 2008 and subscription renewals for 2007-08 season subscribers will begin on February 11, 2008. An adult subscription to Great Lakes Theater Festival starts as low as $93. Student subscriptions begin at $36. For more information about becoming a Festival subscriber, patrons should contact the Great Lakes Theater Festival subscription office at (216) 664-6064 or online.

Single tickets will be available beginning in July. Regular priced adult single tickets will range from $15 - $69. Regular priced student/youth tickets for the Hanna Theatre are $13 ($28 for A Christmas Carol in the Ohio Theatre) and will be available for all performances. Additional handling fees may apply and may vary depending on point of purchase. Further details and pricing specifics will be announced in July. Single tickets will be available by calling (216) 241-6000, by ordering online and by visiting the Playhouse Square Ticket office. Groups of ten or more receive discounts as do educators.

The first resident company of Playhouse Square , Great Lakes Theater Festival will celebrate twenty-five years in the Theatre District this season. Since 1962, the Festival has brought the pleasure, power and relevance of classic theater to the widest possible audience in northern Ohio.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The (Animated) Cleveland Brown

No, this isn’t about that certain Cleveland NFL football team that Clevelanders either love, or love to hate. (Sometimes both.)

This is about the fictional, animated character Cleveland Brown, from the Fox series “The Family Guy.” He is a recurring character on the show, playing one of Peter Griffin's neighbors and friends. He also owns a delicatessen, named fittingly, "Cleveland's Deli". He is voiced by the real life Mike Henry.

Cleveland Brown will get center stage when his own series premiers on Fox in March of 2009, called ‘The Cleveland Show.” But alas, the Cleveland show won’t be centered in Cleveland; that would make too much sense. The show will have Cleveland (the character, not the city) move from Rhode Island to a new home in Virginia. Here’s the back story from the Fox Broadcasting web site:

Image from Fox

Many years ago, CLEVELAND BROWN (voiced by Mike Henry) was a high school student madly in love with a beautiful girl named DONNA. Much to his dismay, his love went unrequited, and Donna wound up marrying another man. Cleveland once told Donna he would always love her, and if this man ever done her wrong, he’d be there when she called.

Well, this man done her wrong.

Donna’s husband skipped town with another woman, leaving Donna with a daughter and a baby. Now she’s come to Cleveland and offered him another chance at love. Unattached after the Loretta-Quagmire debacle and true to his word, Cleveland joyously accepts and he and CLEVELAND JR. move to Stoolbend, VA, to join their new family.

Once in Stoolbend, Cleveland has a few surprises in store for him, including a flirtatious new stepdaughter, a 5-year-old stepson who loves the ladies, as well as a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck couple, a British family seemingly stuck in the Victorian era and a family of bears living at the end of the block.

OK, I don't get the bears living at the end of the block, but that's just me. I suppose anything can happen in an animated universe.

So, if watching the football team “The Cleveland Browns” is getting you a little down lately, maybe these clips of the proposed "Cleveland Show" will cheer you up.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information, here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens

Stretching from I-90, which runs by the shore of Lake Erie, to the University Circle area, are the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. It is a collection of gardens with statuary, decorative ironwork, and fountains,  serving as a living monument representing the diversity of the varying ethnic groups of the Greater Cleveland area. It is an approximately 50 acres section of the much larger 254-acre Rockefeller Park that was created in 1896 on land donated to the city by industrialist John D. Rockefeller. It follows the paths of both East and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History provides some background:

The CLEVELAND CULTURAL GARDEN FEDERATION oversees the Cultural Gardens, landscaped gardens with statuary honoring various ethnic groups in Cleveland situated along East Blvd. and Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.

The CCGF was founded in 1925 as the Civic Progress League by Leo Weidenthal, who, during the dedication of the Shakespeare Garden in Rockefeller Park in 1916, felt that similar sites should be prepared for each of the city's nationality communities. In 1926 the organization became the Cultural Garden League, and a Hebrew garden was established. On 9 May 1927 the city set aside areas of Rockefeller Park for future gardens. The Italian, German, Lithuanian, Slovak, and Ukrainian gardens were established in 1930; the Polish, Hungarian, Czech, and Yugoslav gardens in 1934; and the American, Rusin, Irish, Greek, and Syrian gardens in 1938. Romanian, Estonian, Afro-American, Chinese, Finnish, and Indian gardens have since been created. Planning and fundraising for each garden was undertaken within the various ethnic communities, while the Cleveland Cultural Garden Fed. (the name adopted in 1952) oversaw overall planning and coordinated various joint programs, including the 2nd UNESCO Conference (1949) and the annual One World Day (begun in 1945). During the 1960s and 1970s, many gardens suffered vandalism and statuary was removed for safekeeping. In 1985-86 a major restructuring of the area was undertaken and plans discussed for rehabilitating the gardens by the federation, including 40 members from the affiliated nationalities.

The gardens had faced some periods of neglect, theft of some of the greenery,  and vandalism of some of the stone and metal works. Frankly, the last time I drove through the area (only a few months ago) I found myself somewhat saddened to see no one walking though the park. While it doesn’t look neglected, it is clear that the city has not capitalized as much as it should on what can be a stunning green space. It certainly makes for a nice drive through, but is not welcoming to just stopping your car to admire the area. Parking is impossible along MLK Blvd., so if you plan to visit, you may have to park at the Rockefeller Park Greenhouse at the north end of the park and walk, or, in other locations in the neighborhood on East Blvd. near Sam Miller Park. There may be other parking locations that are available of which I am not aware.

The park really is one of the gems of the city, one that may need a little clean and polish to get is back to its original, intended state, and to make it more welcoming to Greater Cleveland residents and visitors to the city.

Admission to the Gardens is free, as well as to the Rockefeller Greenhouse.

A new web site for the Cleveland Cultural Gardens can be found at this link. And, if you’d like to sneak a peak before going there, a very nice collection of photographs can be found here.

An interesting web site covering the state and the preservation of the Gardens can be found at the Cultural Landscape Foundation, here.

There are also many photos of the early days of the Gardens which can be found at the Cleveland Press Memory Project, here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Cleveland information,here.