Sunday, May 29, 2011


This post is about a project that has been highly publicized.  Perhaps everything you will read here you will have already read elsewhere [definitely see the multiple posts about this on the Cleveland Area History blog (look for the link to this blog near the top of our blog), which has done an exhaustingly thorough job on reporting much of this building's early history, culled from several accounts written at/near the time of its initial construction].  A big casino is coming to Cleveland, Ohio, and before the new structure that is planned can be built, somewhere on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in the downtown area, they have selected a temporary location to operate during construction, in what had been a department store.  Additionally, they decided they needed a "Welcome Center", obviously nearby the temporary casino, which will primarily be a place for the gamblers, or "valets", to park their cars.  The site they purchased for this is, logically, diagonally across the street, a small
'logistic' that is to be overcome by an elevated walkway bridging the parking with the casino.  This site just happens to already be occupied by several buildings, none of which the casino wishes to use for the project.  One of the apparently doomed structures is the one pictured in this post, the Columbia Building, constructed in 1908 and designed by Cleveland architect Marion Wells.  Many local residents will remember this building as the home of Dyke College in the late-'80s and the '90s [note: this institution may have "morphed" into Myers University -- does anyone out there know??].  It has been a designated Local Landmark for a number of years.  Part of the project involves the construction of a building planned for retail use.  Why can't the Columbia Building be the building planned for retail use??   Or, perhaps a better idea would be to simply transfer one of the 'ground' dimensions of the planned 4-story parking-garage into more height, doubling it to eight stories, thereby cutting the 'footprint' in half, ultimately eliminating the need for the ground that the Columbia Building occupies.  But perhaps the most important question to be answered is, what will happen to the "Welcome Center" when the casino moves from across the street to its planned permanent location on the river??  Will they build a new elevated walkway a half-mile long to the new casino??  The answer to that should be obvious.  They will essentially 'abandon' this site -- put the 'for-sale' sign out.  No doubt they'll get a taker for a parking-garage.  But -- why must we lose an important and still very useful historic structure for a project that is essentially temporary??


The two houses you see with this post are in the Wade Park National Register Historic District, on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, on the edge of the northern campus of Case Western Reserve University.  The larger house has been owned by the congregation of Mt. Zion Congregational Church for over fifty years, and has been used for Sunday School classes and offices (NOT for worship, as originally stated).  Built in 1907 as the residence of George Grandin, it remained as such until his widow sold it to the congregation.  It was designed by the Cleveland architectural firm Bohnard & Parsson.  The other house, immediately nextdoor, is owned by the same congregation and has several secondary uses.  It was built in 1908 as the residence of Francis Line, and a couple of years later it was owned and occupied by John Talmage.  It was designed by Cleveland architect J. Milton Dyer.  The reason this post is here is that there has been a report recently that the congregation wishes to demolish these structures so as to build a new structure in their places.  Another report indicates that there is an effort underway to designate both structures as Local Landmarks, which would at least impede an effort to demolish either.  If true, let's hope this takes place.  Both houses are obviously fine examples of upper-middle-class homes of the first decade of the twentieth century, and certainly are nowhere near the end of their usefulness.  Perhaps the congregation should relocate to a vacant lot (Cleveland has MANY of these) and save the costs that would have been incurred on demolition.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The images seen with this post are of two buildings [one is a side/rear view] that are very soon to disappear, or perhaps already have. Located at the western end of the Lorain Avenue Local Historic District, Cleveland, Ohio, they were recently condemned by the City, due to alleged primary structural collapses. Ironically, this building has 'partook of' the City's Storefront Renovation Program twice. In the seventeen years this ten-plus-block-long stretch of Lorain Avenue has been a Local Historic District, so many of its structures have been demolished -- in many cases merely to 'accommodate' some high-dollar project -- at least one disgusted local historian considers this status to be nothing less than a mockery. With the loss of yet two more historic buildings in this Historic District, what word can we use that means something that EXCEEDS 'mockery' status?