Friday, October 11, 2013

"IS NOTHING SACRED?" (...NOT IF IT'S IN CLEVELAND...)

Cleveland, Ohio, shamelessly continues in its full-speed-ahead determination to do all it can to eliminate all its historic buildings, and even its once-proud history, for the sake of new buildings (or, heck, sometimes even new parking lots!).  The Cleveland Clinic likewise continues in its role as the Monster That Ate Cleveland, making the City's mission even easier.  After losing another historic church ('devoured' by the Clinic) only months ago on what had been Cleveland's storied Euclid Avenue, one more church built on that formerly-prestigious avenue to accommodate the religious needs of a segment of the wealthy class is soon going to vanish.  Built in 1902 as the Euclid Avenue Episcopal Church, it has had City Of Cleveland Landmark status for many years, which will be of course "taken care of", as usual, by the Cleveland De-Landmarking Commission.  "The fix is in", already, apparently, as one can surmise from the demolition fence now surrounding the building, seen in the recently-taken accompanying photograph.  Not having been used for a number of years, the Episcopal Diocese, who still owns it, will be demolishing it so that the Cleveland Clinic can purchase the land from them so that they can add in some way to their ever-expanding campus that is already the size of a small city, in itself.  (It shouldn't be long before Cleveland, Ohio, is transformed into Cleveland Clinic, Ohio.)  This church is the oldest of three churches extant in Cleveland known to have been designed by firms headed by Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram (in this example, it was Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson).  Cram's work, the bulk of which was churches, is considered by many architectural historians as being of national and/or international importance.  Time Magazine did a cover story on him in 1926.  But even the possession of this distinction will not save this building from the wreckers in the uncultured atmosphere of Cleveland's modern-day return to the Dark Ages.  In Cleveland, the only thing that gets respect is money -- of which the Cleveland Clinic has unlimited quantities.  Money can't buy you love, but it sure can buy up (and throw out) all of a city's built history.

Friday, May 17, 2013

MORE ARCHITECTURAL BEAUTY TO BE EXCHANGED FOR BLACKTOP AND YELLOW LINES

Accompanying this post are three views from 1995 of what originally had been the Fifth Church Of Christ Scientist, a dome-roofed Classical Revival structure built in Cleveland, Ohio, at Lake and W. 117th in 1926, from designs created by architect Frank Bail.  Abandoned by the congregation in the 1980s, it has been unused since that time.  It is now only a short spell of time away from its demolition.  A small, grass-roots group -- named, simply and appropriately, "Save Fifth Church" -- had attempted to grab the attention of someone who could be a new owner, who they hoped would renovate the deteriorated structure.  Now even they have abandoned this historic structure, compromising their original position -- reinventing themselves as "Neighbors In Action" and now primarily advocating only the preservation of the church's portico as a sort of classy entrance to a small, neighborhood park.  Of course, none of this can happen without extensive community support, particularly of the political persuasion, and many thousands of dollars, which of course has not materialized.  More than likely, all that is going to occur is that the entire structure will be demolished so that the owner, now in the process of constructing a new retail complex immediately adjacent to the site, will be able to provide more parking.  It is nothing less than impressive that a group of individuals, that are not the usual very tiny group of genuine preservationists, formed in the first place with a goal of trying to save an attractive, historic building -- a rare occurance, indeed, in a city notorious for obliterating as much of its built past as it possibly can, and having a general population who otherwise are either passive and indifferent, or who blindly support only anything that is new.


Monday, January 07, 2013

ANOTHER BATTLE LOST -- "CLEVELAND-STYLE"





STANLEY BLOCK - 1928
STANLEY BLOCK - May 2012
As another sad event within the locally highly-publicized drama associated with Cleveland's Horseshoe Casino's complete disregard of local history, it would appear that the casino is once again about to achieve another "victory" via the upcoming demolition of the historic Stanley Block, the final historic building that has stood in the way of their occupation of the entire block southeast of the intersection of Ontario and Prospect avenues.  What makes this loss especially painful is the fact that the casino didn't have to lift a finger to make this happen -- all it took was the other nemesis of Historic Preservation -- conscious neglect of the owner of a historic building.  Literally the sole surviving pre-1880s structure in the downtown area outside of the Warehouse District, the Stanley Block is actually two structures.  The northernmost building was built in 1870 for Thomas Quinlin, and the southernmost two-thirds was built in 1871 for George Stanley.  In 1874, Stanley acquired the Quinlin building, and, since then, the whole has been known as the Stanley Block.  Only partially-owned by the casino, the other owners refused to give their permission to have the structure destroyed.  Unfortunately, their apparent total lack of financial resources (or unwillingness to spend them) caused the building's already-severely neglected condition to deteriorate even more.  The recent "superstorm" added further damage that brought it to a state condemnable by the City.  It is likely to be gone by the time you read this.

Friday, December 21, 2012

ART HOUSE -- "WHERE HISTORY DIES" -- TWICE !!

Earlier posts in this blog (9/30/2005 & 6/11/2007) pertained to a historic house in Cleveland, Ohio, owned by an art academy for children, which they decided they wanted to demolish.  This plan was temporarily sidelined after it became controversial, but, recently, it has been revived.  Shockingly, it now involves the demolition of two historic structures.  In the interim period, the academy -- known as Art House -- gained ownership of an immediately adjacent property, also occupied by a historic house, which they publicly declared they were going to use for some part of their operations -- exactly as they had originally said regarding the first-mentioned historic house.  But, again, in a stupendous demonstration of unabated irresponsibility, they once again abandoned this plan and, now, once again, they have announced their plan to demolish this house, as well.  Needless to say, since they are an organization with the potential to influence the political voting of others, they have the support of the councilperson of the ward they are located in, always on the lookout of furthering his political (or otherwise) career.  The house that has been threatened for several years was built in 1884 for Andrew Wirth, who was the final postmaster of what was then Brooklyn Village just before its choice to be annexed to Cleveland.  Please note the accompanying image of this house taken in 1945.  Its exterior has been substantially abused, first covered in aluminum siding and then having its ornate Queen Anne porch replaced by a smoked-glass bubble so as to promote the products of a glass-company that was once the house's sole occupant.  Very unusual decorative balconies [see accompanying photo] and a slate roof have miraculously survived to this day.  The other, now newly-threatened house was built in 1886 for Edward Belz, one of the proprietors of the most significant title-research company in Cleveland at the turn of the last century.  It was also subjected to an unattractive residing decades ago.  But, its front porch has remained -- and it is easily one of the most artistic late-19th-century porches that can be seen in Cleveland [see accompanying photo].
WIRTH HOUSE - 1945

WIRTH HOUSE BALCONY - NOW
BENZ HOUSE FRONT PORCH - NOW
It is nothing less than pathetic that Art House has gained public support of their acquisitions of historic buildings via their allegations of using them, only to ultimately decide that they wish to demolish them, instead -- a genuinely sinister example of the classic "bait-and-switch" technique if there ever was one.  With the ongoing support of the anything-for-votes councilperson, and the persistent nothing-is-historic mentality of Cleveland -- the government and  general public, alike -- the doom of these historic structures appears to be a "sealed deal".

Monday, November 19, 2012

CLEVELAND DEMOLITION UNIVERSITY



Many of you have likely already learned that the Wolfe Music Building, at 2122 Euclid, Cleveland, is very near to demolition.  Owned by Cleveland State University, it and the adjacent university dormitory building known as Viking Hall, are to be demolished so that a new classroom building can be constructed.  Reportedly, the Wolfe Music Building was built in 1927 from designs supplied by Walker & Weeks.  It has a white terra-cotta facade.  It seems various parts of its exterior are being salvaged.  This building is in Cleveland's Ward 8, whose councilperson is Jeffrey Johnson.  Johnson has been a true champion of historic preservation, driving an ongoing project to try to get City of Cleveland Local Landmark status for many of the historic buildings in that ward.  Johnson has done this with seemingly little, if any, regard to objections.  But, sadly, it is to be expected that no politician would disregard the potential political influence of a college/university.  Johnson has stayed well clear of attempting to Landmark this building.  It seems that colleges/universities are determined to believe that all "progress" within their campuses must be manifested via new structures -- as if using older structures is some sort of embarrassment.  Cleveland State University has a long and shameful record of destroying historic buildings.  Entire blocks of historic buildings have been destroyed by them -- e.g., there used to be an East 19th Street and an East 20th Street between Euclid and Chester avenues, both full of elegant apartment-houses built at the turn of the last century for the upper-middle class.  These blocks were entirely wiped out by the 1980s.  In more recent years, the Cadillac Building -- a Knox & Elliot design built in 1914 -- and the coach-house of the Mather Mansion -- a Charles Schweinfurth design built circa 1910 -- were demolished by the university.  They have wanted to demolish the Howe Mansion -- a Coburn & Barnum design built in 1894 -- but were somehow persuaded to not go through with it -- but it is only a matter of time before they have more of a motivation and this unique structure will be lost, as well.  The Mather Mansion will be demolished by the university, some day, also.  The past has no value to a college/university.  Only the future means anything to them -- and that  future will certainly not include anything from the past.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SOON TO BE ANOTHER PARKING LOT ON ONCE-GLORIOUS EUCLID AVENUE?

The legend of Cleveland's historic Euclid Avenue, once the location of the homes of over two hundred of Cleveland's economic elite, is known far and wide.  All but a tiny handful of those homes have been destroyed.  Since this street was the 'anchor' for large residential neighborhoods, occupied primarily by the social strata just below the elite, there were also a substantial number of houses of worship built along Euclid Avenue to accommodate their varied religious needs.  A somewhat larger percentage of these have somehow managed to survive, most still being used today by congregations composed of the poor who now occupy what little remains of these neighborhoods.  It has been many a year since one of these has been genuinely threatened with demolition, but, now, this has sadly changed as of this year.  The congregation of the Euclid Avenue Church Of God has abandoned its grand Euclid Avenue facility and wishes to demolish it so that they can sell the vacant property to the Cleveland Clinic, who have an ever-growing campus for blocks in every direction around this property.  Ironically, this very same congregation had this building Landmarked many years ago.  It was designed by famed church architect Sidney Badgley and built 1889-90 for a brand new congregation, the Church Of The Epiphany [see photo with this post, taken only a month prior].  Split off from an Episcopal congregation due to doctrine disagreements, they were the first and only example of a Reformed Episcopal congregation to have ever existed in the greater Cleveland area, making this church the only one ever built for this denomination in this area.  The owners have formally met with the Cleveland Landmarks Commission twice this year.  The first meeting resulted in the commission unanimously voting to deny the demolition request.  The second meeting, though, resulted in a vote from a weak majority to once again deny the request.  There will undoubtedly be a third meeting and it shouldn't be difficult at all to guess what the vote will be.  Historic buildings have always had a low priority to the City Of Cleveland, while big-money local investors like the Cleveland Clinic have always been of the highest priority to the City Of Cleveland.  The De-Landmarking Commission has had quite an impressive 'run', as of late, of de-landmarking local Landmarks -- clearing the way to get yet another one destroyed will help to keep the De-Landmarking Commission in 'fine form'.  And what could be more impressive than removing one of the few surviving remnants of the once-grand Euclid Avenue.

Monday, October 01, 2012

LAND[FILL] BANK AND ITS LATEST 'WITHDRAWAL'

The time has come to make mention of an entity that has appeared in the greater area of Cleveland, Ohio, that may be playing a larger role in the rampant destruction of historic buildings than anyone else.  They are the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, more commonly known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank.  Formed in 2006, they are apparently well funded as they are not only constantly acquiring substantial numbers of foreclosed properties, their funding even allows for the cost of substantial numbers of demolitions.  In March of 2012, they boasted on their website of having accomplished their 750th demolition.  This year they acquired a foreclosed, vacant house in a Local Historic District in Cleveland [pictured with this post] and decided that it should be demolished.  The house, designed by local architect Paul Matzinger, was built in 1903 as a four-family house.  Of course its Landmark status was no real obstacle, since the Cleveland Landmarks Commission (more commonly known as the Cleveland De-Landmarking Commission) put up no fight whatsoever (their usual 'm. o.') and removed the Landmark status so as to facilitate the demolition.