Friday, October 11, 2013


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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree totally. It was discussed at the meeting of local design review committees held at the Convention Center on Friday. It is not gone yet, and I respect the fact that the Commission has tabled a vote 3 times on the issue. Keep lobbying, Craig! Don't give up. (I also "had it out" with Ted Sande at the meeting. Disgraceful!)

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree totally. It was discussed at the meeting of local design review committees held at the Convention Center on Friday. It is not gone yet, and I respect the fact that the Commission has tabled a vote 3 times on the issue. Keep lobbying, Craig! Don't give up. (I also "had it out" with Ted Sande at the meeting. Disgraceful!)

5:05 PM  
Blogger CraigB said...

Thank you for the supportive words -- "Anonymous". I did not consider what I do on this blog as any sort of "lobbying", as you've referred to it. Even if it somehow is, it will be ignored. As I said in that post, the only thing given any respect in Cleveland is MONEY. Why, by the way, are you choosing to be "anonymous"? Are you ashamed of something?

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Rick Foran said...

As a long time Preservationist going back to the early 70's, I am compelled to set the record straight.
This building is NOT a good example of Cram architecture in that, when built in three stages over 20 years and under a very limited budget, not all of Cram's designs were not followed. No bell tower--a key element of the design--was ever built, the interior is significantly different, and the hall portion is done in colonial style brick not stone.
All that said, expansive shale is thrusting upward so much the floor slopes 12 inches in 20 feet.
The interior walls have fallen apart from water infiltration that was documented over eleven years ago,.
Indoor air quality require respirators due to the mold and fungus growing nearly everywhere.
All heating and ventilation systems are useless due to being rusted through.
Ditto with the plumbing.
Did I mention that there are asbestos, lead paint, and other toxins that need to be removed everywhere?
Total cost just to bring it up to code including lifesafety requirements: $6.1MM to $8.2MM .
That is TWO to THREE TIMES the annual budget of the Episcopal Diocese

And, there is no congregation. The last group of 20 some members abandoned the property two years ago, which is when the Diocese first came into possession of the property. The demolition by neglect occurred during the last 2 decades when another congregation owned the building.

No one likes to promote the notion of demolishing a church, especially one listed as a landmark.
But the Landmarks Commission is facing a daunting task in the near term given the SCORES of churches in the area which are abandoned and/or closed. Re-use isn't always an option. So, we as a community must face the question: Just which endangered historic churches do we devote our resources to?
To use the Solomon's baby analogy, is the Diocese to choose between this church and St. John's in Ohio City (constructed 1836, served as last stop on the Underground Railroad) which is in much better shape yet requires significant restoration?
What can the community at large do to help save these buildings which have no visible means of support due to a lack of congregations or financial resources?
Pounding on the table and calling owners names or questioning their ethics is childish and short sighted and does nothing to promote preservation.
If someone has a practical idea or solution, we're listening.
If not, the building will be demolished so that the families of patients receiving extensive, life-saving treatment can remain close to their loved ones to help in their recovery journey.

2:36 PM  
Blogger CraigB said...

Rick Foran --

I believe that there is some strong likelihood that there is some truth in your comments. I don't doubt that the building is in some serious need of repairs and that the present owner is either unable or unwilling. But, I also think that who is obviously going to be the next owner of this property is EXTREMELY able to enact those repairs, but who unfortunately is unwilling due to its extreme disregard towards Cleveland's architectural history. Perhaps the 'larger' culprit is the City government. When will the City take a more 'proactive' role towards rescuing its important historic buildings? If it were to intervene on the behalf of preservation efforts, many such crises would would be resolved favorably for historic preservation. But, sadly, the "old-is-bad" mentality is so pervasive, especially at City Hall, this sort of transformation is just a pipe-dream. All of the posts I put on this blog ultimately acknowledge the overwhelmingly "it's-hopeless" attitudes, such as yours, towards historic preservation in our area. There are HUNDREDS of people here that can and will make the same sort of pro-demolition speech that you have, about this and all the rest of our ailing older buildings, in our ailing economy. I do acknowledge these sorts of obstacles, but, on the other hand, I do not have to SUPPORT them. Someone has to at least speak out in defense of historic preservation, even if it only serves to try to make a point. That is the ultimate goal of my posts. My statements alone certainly won't save these buildings, but, for those who choose to read what I write will at least realize that somebody in this area actually CARES about these buildings and believes that they are WORTH saving.

-- Craig B.

1:11 AM  

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