Friday, April 02, 2010


This posting is the very first example of something on this blog that is not only after-the-fact but is just plain "old news". We must apologize to any of our readers who have grown accustomed to getting the scoop on preservation threats while they are still in the 'threat' mode. This one somehow slipped by. This is about the former Hathaway Brown and Laurel school buildings that were demolished in January by the property-owners, the Cleveland Clinic (otherwise known as The Monster That Is Eating Cleveland, heretofore shortened in this post to The Monster). The Hathaway Brown school was built in 1905 on East 97th Street, just off of Euclid Avenue, from designs supplied by Cleveland architects Hubbell & Benes. It was a reserved but very dignified design based on Elizabethan-era British antecedents [see accompanying images, taken in 1999]. By the turn of the previous century, this area had become an exclusive, strictly residential section, occupied by the upper- and upper-middle classes. Most of their offspring attended private schools only, and this was why both Hathaway Brown and Laurel made certain they were located here. Both schools were for girls. It would be two decades before the next generation of the monied classes were relocating to Shaker Heights, and the schools followed suit. The Hathaway Brown building, and the c. 1910 Laurel building just behind it, were sold to Harshaw Chemical, who used these facilities as its corporate offices for nearly sixty years. The buildings were maintained in fairly good condition. Then came The Monster. At first, they used these buildings for a conference center. But, then they decided that they needed to update the electrical and mechanical systems and they didn't want to spend the money to renovate an "old" [known here as HISTORIC] building. As many Cleveland-area residents have witnessed over the past ten years or so, The Monster has grown and grown and grown. Not only have numerous other buildings -- some significant, some not -- been removed in the process, but entire blocks of certain streets have been consumed, as well, constructing a new building on top of where there once had been streets. There clearly is no limits to the appetite for more land that The Monster has. It will certainly, some day, reach from Stokes Boulevard to East 55th, and from Hough to Cedar. At present, despite the decades of severe deterioration and physical losses in this former 'exclusive' part of Cleveland, there still are, at present, many very historic and very architecturally significant structures -- all of which will vanish. The entire middle-section of Cleveland's east-side will become one colossal clinic and sundry accessory buildings. There will not be a single physical reminder of the Gilded Age splendor that once dominated this area. It will be but a fading memory, one day itself succumbing to the same Oblivion.