Welcome to the Cleveland Clinic and Historic Fairfax tour. During this tour you will be guided through one of the constantly adapting and changing neighborhoods on Cleveland’s east side. The numerous sites highlighted will inform you about the area’s architecture, history and people. For each site there is a contemporary image and short description. (If the site no longer exists then a historic image has been used.) Please listen to the audio segments to enhance your understanding of the place featured. The tour is designed for walking, biking, and driving, and is wheelchair accessible. However, this interface also allows for an armchair tour. If you are taking the tour from the comfort of your own home or office, please note that directions to the next location are embedded in dialogue for those out in the field. Further, the expanse of this tour merits that it be broken into two sections. Between the end of Part 1 and the start of Part 2 there will be another brief introductory statement for those joining us for the first time. Thank you and we hope you enjoy this installment of Cleveland Walks.
The Cleveland Clinic started in 1921 when four local physicians decided to create a place dedicated to medical care, research, innovation, and physician education. The Cleveland Clinic Disaster of 1929, which left 123 dead, temporarily set back the hospital’s progress. Since World War II, however, and at a quickened pace since the 1970s, the Cleveland Clinic has grown. Today it is one of the city’s largest private employers.
The East Mount Zion congregation was the first African American church to hold services on Euclid Avenue. The congregation relocated to this structure, known colloquially as The Green Stone Church, in 1955.
Named after a publisher of the Cleveland Call & Post, construction for the W.O. Walker Building started in 1984 and was completed in 1989. Once finished, the roughly $71 million project was fraught with controversy. Today the building is cooperatively leased by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.
In the early 1800s the present-day intersection of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street was called Doan’s Corners and over the years became known as Cleveland’s second downtown. But demographic shifts starting in the 1950s, coupled with myriad other factors, led to disinvestment in the area.
The Pentecostal Church of Christ building was once home to the Fourth Church of Christ Scientist congregation. The Christ Scientist congregation constructed this building in 1920.
Temple Tifereth Israel, known today as the Maltz Performing Arts Center, once housed the second oldest active Jewish congregation in Cleveland. This temple was built in 1924. The congregation was involved in several national and international movements of the Jewish faith, most notably the congregation’s early adoption of Reform Judaism and its embrace of Zionism in the first half of the 20th century.
Park Lane Villa, built in 1923, is a remaining example of the luxury apartment hotel trend that swept the nation in the early 20th century. This structure, in addition to some other examples we will identify later, reflected the prosperity and high living standards characteristic of Cleveland in the 1920s.
Wade Park Manor, built in 1923, is another example of a luxury apartment hotel. Its architectural design is that of Georgian Revival. Today it operates as the Judson Manor retirement community.
Sometimes referred to as the “Holy Oil Can,” the University Circle United Methodist Church can trace its history back to 1831.
Cleveland’s 19th century industrial boom happened in part through the efforts of Marcus A. Hanna. After his death in 1904, The Marcus A. Hanna Monument Association collected $65,000 and hired Augustus Saint Gaudens to erect this bronze statue.
The Lajos (Louis) Kossuth statue commemorates his abdication of power in Hungary after the failed revolution of 1848. After this statue of Kossuth was erected, Cleveland Hungarians raised funds, in an effort of solidarity, collected funds to send back to Budapest to erect a statue of George Washington.
John Hay Commercial High School opened in 1929. Surprisingly, although the school offered a curriculum focused on economics, commerce, and office skills, the enrollment at first was majority female. From the 1960s to the 1990s the school became the site of student protests, lockouts, and other expressions of their dissatisfaction.
The Tudor Arms, completed in 1933, was the home of the exclusive Cleveland Club. After the Great Depression the building became the Tudor Arms Hotel and entertainment venue. In 1960, however, burgeoning racial tensions clouded the image of the hotel nightclub and Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology converted the space into a student dormitory. Today it operates as a DoubleTree hotel.
Cathedral Latin School opened in 1916 as a preparatory school for boys. By 1970, however, Latin’s enrollment had declined because parents grew wary of neighboring Doan’s Corners deterioration. The school officially closed in 1979. In its space stands the former state-owned W.O. Walker Industrial Rehabilitation facility and parking garage.
The Elysium opened to the public on November 23, 1907. It was a 2,000-seat indoor ice rink. It held held the title of the world’s largest indoor ice skating rink, for roughly three years. In the 1930s, as hockey became more popular the old 2,000-seat Elysium could no longer host all of the fans. The original site of the Elysium has since been reimagined as urban green space.
Fenway Hall, built in 1923, is yet another example of a remaining luxury apartment hotel. White flight, during Cleveland’s era of racial transition, left the Hall to fall out of style. The recent revival of urban dwelling, as well as the increased number of medical students flocking to Cleveland institutes, has spurred renewed residential investment in the area.
The White Mansion is one of only a handful of homes that remain from the acclaimed Millionaires’ Row era of Euclid Avenue. Today this property is part of the Cleveland Clinic campus and operates as its Philanthropy Institute.
In 1940, the first health museum in the United States was founded in Cleveland. In an approximately 70-year period, Cleveland’s health museum went through three name changes and changed locations three times. The museum strove to inform the public of medical advancement, as well as, educate the public on to construct a healthy community environment.
Antioch Baptist Church is a long-standing facet of the community. When many of its congregants decided to move to the suburbs it decided to remain in the city and focus its outreach efforts to the Fairfax neighborhood. In 1947, the church established a credit union to aid World War II African American veterans to secure loans.
St. James AME (African Methodist Episcopal) is part of the oldest black religious denomination in the United States. The Cleveland AME congregation is best known for being progressive and organizing a Literary Forum. The Forum encourages intelligent debates on the pressing social issues of the day.
The Cleveland Play House was formed in 1915 by Charles and Minerva Brooks and their well-to-do friends. They offered more substantial performances in comparison to the vaudeville and burlesque acts popular at the time.
The Drury Mansion, built 1910-1912, was originally constructed for Mr. and Mrs. Francis E. Drury. It took 20 servants to run this 17th-century English-style home. Interestingly, in 1924 the Drurys started construction on an almost identical mansion in the distant eastern suburb of Gates Mills.
The structure was now houses Liberty Hill Baptist Church was built in 1912 for the city’s oldest surviving Jewish congregation, Anshe Chesed. In 1957, the temple relocated to Fairmont and the remaining Euclid Avenue structure was purchased by the Liberty Hill Baptist congregation. The structure has a 1,000-seat theater, 25 classrooms, a 300-seat banquet facility, and an amphitheater-like sanctuary.
The construction of St. Agnes marked the transformation of Catholicism from a predominately immigrant religion to one of mainstream prominence. The church started on a decline following World War I, however, and it was demolished in 1975. Today, only the church’s tower remains.
Calvary Presbyterian Church, built in 1890, first catered to the white elite of Millionaires’ Row. During the 1950s, the congregation embraced the surrounding neighborhoods demographic shift and became a racially integrated parish.
The Church of God & True Holiness was designed in a very blatant Romanesque Revival architectural style for the structures original owners the Second Church of Christ Scientist. Christ Scientist congregations employed classicism when designing their structures to show that their religion is rooted in the “scientific system of reason and demonstration.” Today the structure houses the Church of God & True Holiness organizations headquarters.
During the 1960s, Leo’s Casino was a key spot for touring Motown artists. Otis Redding played his final concert there on December 9, 1967, the day before he died in a plane crash. The club is famous because its clientele remained racially integrated, regardless of the racial turmoil stirring surrounding the venue.
The Baker Electric Building was built in 1910 and operated as Walter C. Baker’s first car showroom. In 1897, Baker started building electric passenger vehicles. The Baker Electric was powered through the cooperation of Thomas Edison and his batteries.
Masjid Bilal primarily serves Cleveland’s African American Islamic community. Masjid means mosque. Bilal was chosen because the story of Bilal the Ethiopian slave mirrors that of African Americans, in their rise from slavery to their prominence in the Islamic world.
Charles F. Schweinfurth was one of Cleveland’s master architects. He designed mansions on Millionaires’ Row, the Union Club, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, as well as his own residence on the former Ingleside Avenue (East 75th Street). This Romanesque Revival home conjures a castle-like feel for its spectators.
In the 1990s, the Church Square shopping plaza development represented an important step towards achieving the desperately needed revitalization of Cleveland’s east side communities. With the promise of an influx in outside revenue and jobs for local residents, many fragile futures hinged on the success of Church Square.
The Beacon Place housing development is a classic example of New Urbanism. Construction started in 1995. The hope was to lure potential middle-class and wealthy homeowners from the outlying suburbs back to the city.
To say that the Cleveland Clinic and Historic Fairfax neighborhood has changed drastically over the years would be an understatement. The area has witnessed the polar extremes of mansions to slums and Jewish temples to Islamic mosques. As the neighborhood shifted and transitioned it was home to a racially integrated nightclub, a health museum, a second downtown, theaters, churches, and luxury apartment hotels. Although the Cleveland Clinic’s expansionist initiatives could spell doom for the landmarks that remain in the area, the stories of the people, institutions, and architecture that once contributed to the unique and constantly transforming image of this community on Cleveland’s east side, will always be remembered.
Thank you for going on the Cleveland Clinic and Historic Fairfax tour with me today. It has been a pleasure. We encourage you to explore other tours being developed by Cleveland Walks under the aegis of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University.