Businesses That Fade Away – Now Found

Last Sunday ther Plain Dealer printed a wonderful article entitled “Signs of Lost Times” by Marcia Pledger (one of my favs at the PD). I had the honor as author of “Lost Cleveland” of offering a little quote. Pretty cool. The article details the hundreds upon hundreds of signs that pay homage to Cleveland companies that no longer exist. I really enjoyed the read. A lot of my favorite signs were included in the photos section. To see the fabulous photos by Plain Dealer photographer – Thomas Ondrey click HERE.

One of the great outcomes of the article was an email I received from John TePas, the patriarch and genealogist of the TePas family, whose great grandfather came to Cleveland from Holland to found the Cleveland Co-Operative Stove Company. The Company just happened to be included in one of the many photos by Thomas Ondrey.

John’s email is below:

This one gave me goose bumps. Today’s Plain Dealer feature story in the Business Section has a story about businesses that have faded away, but the buildings and the identifying signs are still visible.  On the front page,  is the CLEVELAND CO-OPERATIVE STOVE CO.  where he made his living. I have searched fruitlessly for years trying to get a lock on this site and here it is

Now quoting directly from his obit in a 1903 Plain Dealer ” Deceased was a native of Holland and came to Cleveland in 1848.  He was one of the incorporators of the Cleveland Co-Operative Stove Company and for years was on its board of directors”. This helps explain his 1893 (??)  will wherein he left two houses and three lots to his sons John, Theodore, and Albert.

The sites listed below get you on the article and then further into it and lastly to the building.  

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2011/04/signs_of_lost_times_northeast.html

http://photos.cleveland.com/4501/gallery/signs_of_history/index.html

http://photos.cleveland.com/plain-dealer/2011/04/clevelandcooperativejpg.html

For even m0re fun, go onto one of the satellite map sites,  maps.live.com or maps.google.ca/  and enter the address 2323 East 67, Cleveland, OH.  If you know your way around the Google site, you can see photos of the bldg from front and north side as well as close ups.It’s on the SE corner of Central & E 67with the Pennsylvania RR line on the rear.  I’m sure when Dad traveled to Washington as he did many times he took the Penn rr from the E 55 station and went right by his grandfather’s business, hopefully knowingly.  

-John

Thanks John for sharing your excitement and joy. I really appreciate it. The story, and John’s email, reminds me that Cleveland has so many stories to tell about its past and many mysteries to offer and for us to solve. Enjoy the links, Cleveland.

League Park

It is wonderful to see the Indians off to a spectacular start for the 2011 season. Baseball has a sacred does of nostalgia does it not? The Indians have a great tradition and long history in Cleveland. Every time  I walk into “Progressive Field” (or any other major league baseball stadium) I sense that I have just walked into a beautiful cathedral of green. There is a great sense of nostalgia that stirs when an old ballpark closes – such as Yankee Stadium two years. But I have a suspicion that League Park – which holds significant history for baseball and Cleveland – never got its due. League Park was one of the great “neighborhood parks” that were built in all the grand cities at the time – Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, Shibe Park in Philidelphia and Wrigley Field in Chicago. Fact is part of League Park still exists on E. 66th and Lexington to this day! This is a great shot of the ticket area on Lexington Avenue back in the day.

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives"

And this is practically the same photo but shows the condition of the Park today.

But in its heyday – League Park was a beauty!

"Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives."

The Park was built in 1891 for the Cleveland Spiders by the owner of the team Frank Robison. (Built on E. 66th because Robison owned a trolley car line and E. 66th happened to by a major part of that line.) The first game in the Park was May 1, 1891 and the Spiders starting pitcher that day was Cy Young. The original capacity of the Park was 9,000 with a picnic area for those in the neighborhood to watch batting practice. Seating capacity was improved to 27,000 in 1909. The 1920 World Series offered a number of fascinating historical events as the Brooklyn Dodgers played against the now Cleveland Indians, managed by Tris Speaker. For example, the first and only unassisted triple play in a World Series occured in the 1920 series, as did the first grand slam in World Series play. The photo below shows Lexington Avenue near the Park during the 1920 World Series. I have to say it is so striking to see a photo of a crowd like this on a Cleveland street. It just would not happen anymore in the City. (Not to mention that Lexington and E. 66th are located in a very distressed area today.)

"Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives."

Another fun historical fact about League Park is that Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run on August 11th, 1929. It is said that his “towering shot” cleared a fence taller than the famed “Green Monster” in Fenway Park and landed on Lexington Avenue. Please note obligatory photo of the Babe (this photo was actually taken at League Park).

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

Not a lot of people remember that League Park was also home to a historic and very successful Negro League team the Cleveland Buckeyes who claimed the 1945 Negro League World Series and two Negro League championships. The Park was also home to other sports teams including the Cleveland Rams who made League Park their home in the 1940’s. During the summer, the Park also hosted some unusual but fun events – including boxing!

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

Here is a great shot of League Park’s scoreboard.

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

And a neat photo of the locker room.

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

Unusual photo – a big teepee in center field.

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

Even the ushers displayed great haberdashery (note “Cleveland” on thier hats).

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

After the completion of Municipal Stadium in 1931 the Indians began to play more and more of their games at the new stadium, but would still play a few series each year at League Park (mostly to improve the team’s batting average as Municipal Stadium was not a hitters’ friendly park). The last game at League Park pitted the hometown Indians against the Detroit Tigers on September 21st, 1946. The Park then became the Cleveland Browns practice field until 1951 and the grandstands were torn-down soon thereafter.

"Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives."

There is a slim hope that part of the facility could be rejuvenated. I did find League Park Society whose mission is to preserve and restore the Park. You find their website here:  www.leaguepark.org. If you get a chance please drive down E. 66th and stop at League Park it really is fascinating to see what remains of this historic venue.

A Fellow History Buff Book Tour

During my early years in Cleveland (remember I am not from Cleveland; moved here in 1994), I started to read the great stories of Cleveland past by John Stark Bellamy. His books on Cleveland’s history are fascinating. Do yourself a favor and search Amazon and start buying a few copies. Anyway my good friends at Gray & Co – a Cleveland, OH-based book publisher, asked me to help publicize the tour a bit. John is the real deal. You will enjoy his conversations about Cleveland’s crazy past.

John returns to town April 4-16, 2011 for a series of talks based on his new book, “The Last Days of Cleveland.”Bellamy will share stories about some of the gruesome crimes and scandalous events from Cleveland’s past including: the suicide of two West Park girls (ages 10 and 11) who died after eating rat poison in their grandmother’s basement; the wild prophecies of the Rowenites who announced the apocalypse would take place at midnight on February 6, 1925 then gathered on rooftops in Garfield Heights to wait for the end; and the murder of George Saxton, playboy brother of President William McKinley whose sensational death and the murder trial of his mistress riveted an entire nation.

He is the author of six story collections and two anthologies and the former history specialist for the Cuyahoga County Library system, John Stark Bellamy retired to Vermont in 2004. He visits Cleveland periodically to speak about his work. For an online schedule of Bellamy’s upcoming library talks, visit: http://www.grayco.com/events/index.shtml#Bellamy

 

Campus Sweater Company – “One Damn Fine Mural”

All right Cleveland, do me a favor and check this photo out!

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Is this not the most spectacular sports mural you have ever seen? This was a Kenneth Bates mural created specifically for the lobby of the new Campus Sweater Company building at 3955 Euclid Avenue. Campus Sweater Company was launched in 1922 by entreprenuers Samuel Kaufmann and Loren Weber originally in the Warehouse District. The Company specialized in casual clothes, sportswear and sweaters. At one time it was the largest manufacturer of men’s clothing in the U.S. (Wasn’t everything in Cleveland once the “largest in the U.S.?) The Company was eventually acquired by Interco in 1968 and enjoyed good fortune in Cleveland until 1982 when the plant was closed ending any presence of Campus Sweater in Cleveland. The building became an office for the county.

What I find fascinating about the mural (outside of its gorgeous look) was that it was placed in front of a large “picture window” on Euclid Avenue so that everyone walking along the street could see this magnificant piece of art. Kenneth Bates, too, was a world renown artist who was based out of the Cleveland Institute of Art. The building this piece was a part of, I believe, is now gone – but I would love to know what happened to this great piece of art. Does anyone have any ideas? Please, please, please let me know.

 

The Bond Store

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Is the building above not the coolest thing you have ever seen? Do you know where this building used to be in Downtown Cleveland? It was one of the last art moderne buildings to reside in the City – it is the home of the Bond Clothing Company. And it was located on the northwest corner of East Ninth and Euclid Avenue (think National City Tower today). The Bond Clothing Company was started in the Hickcox Building on the same corner in the 1920′s. Charles Bond founded the firm and it quickly became the largest retail chain for men’s clothing in the United States and was well known for its two piece suit collection for men. Anyway, the Bond Company decided to tear down the Hickox building in 1946 and erected this beautiful monument soon thereafter.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Many stories have been told about the majestic interior including an open terrace and illuminated mirrored columns that extended from the first floor up to the third floor. There was a large curved staircase that allowed patrons to casually walk through the department store and get a great feel about all four floors and the merchandise offered to patrons. I believe that Walker & Weeks was the architect of record.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The above photo offers a great view from East Ninth looking west down Euclid Avenue towards Public Square. I love how this street used to look. Unfortunately, the store was torn down in 1978 to make way for the National City Tower. This is brilliant architecture. Seems a shame to have lost this to a bland commercial tower.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

 

Cleveland’s Lovely Little Life Savers

 

An advertisement for Lifesavers.

 

We have all had a Life Savers candy at some point in our life. (Love the cherry flavored Life Savers. And wintergreen.) But I suspect that not a lot of people know that Life Savers were created in Cleveland. It’s true. Cleveland millionaire chocolatier Clarence A. Crane introduced the Life Savers candy in 1912. Just a short year later, Crane sold the Life Savers trademark to a New York businessman. Anyway, Crane was inspired to create the candy because he was looking for a “summer candy” – a confection that would not melt during the summer, as his chocolate often would during the dog days of summer. He thought the candy looked similar to “life preservers” often found on boats, thus the name Life Savers. The first Life Savers flavor, by the by, was Pep-O-Mint (still a fan favorite). The candies were originally placed in little cardboard tubes, not the foil wrap used today (the New York businessman who acquired the brand invented the wrapper a few years later).

Interesting side note:  Clarence A. Crane is the father of noted Cleveland poet – Hart Crane, whose famous collection The Bridge was published in 1931. Hart Crane leapt to his death while sailing across the Atlantic on a return trip to the United States; ironically never reaching the life saver that was cast his way while overboard.

The Grand Canyon of Cleveland

A few years ago, when I was still the “Tech Czar” for the City of Cleveland, I was invited by the U.S. Secret Service to an open house of their new Electronic Crimes Facility in Independence, OH. Captivating place, especially considering that most electonic crimes pursued by the Secret Service are managed and tracked in this facility. I will not go into detail about what was presented during my tour…I really do not want the Feds knokcing on my door any time soon. However, I did notice that the offices in this facility were decorated with historical pictures Cleveland and one in particular caught my attention.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

I stood there for a few minutes trying to figure out what I was looking at in this gorgeous picture (the border detail in this photo – i.e. “showing Hollenden Hotel, Cleveland, Ohio” was not detailed in the Secret Service version). The only identifier of the photo was the label “Grand Canyon of Cleveland.” I finally figured out that the building at the very end of the photograph was, indeed, the building I was working in at the time – City Hall. And the building that stood out the most was the Hollenden Hotel. (Please note – the picture’s orientation is south looking north as if you were standing on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East Sixth.) The Hollenden was the crown jewel of the Grand Canyon of Cleveland.

The Hollenden Hotel was opened on June 7th, 1885 and quickly became one of Cleveland’s most glamorous if not most colorful hotels (I will share a bit more of the color in a few moments) in the bustling City. For its time many considered the Hotel a technological marvel seeing how every room had electric lights, 100 private baths (though it had 1,000 rooms and by the by can you imagine a Hotel in Cleveland with 1,000 rooms) and fireproof construction.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

The main building went through a massive $5 million expanison in 1926. While the above picture is not the best of quality it does offer a sense of how massive this hotel really was and its great presence on Superior Avenue. What many people remember of the hotel was its rather lavish interior. It’s lobby was world famous.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

One can only imagine the color that the above photograph fails to provide. The hotel hosted five U.S. Presidents, volumes of dignitaries, many industrial giants of the day, all the local politicians made deals at the mahogany bar and several celebrities – many of whom played in the various bars and stages that the Hollenden offered to its clientele. The one stage that just blew my mind when researching the Hollenden was called the Show Boat Room.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

The Big Band came out from behind the stage which was designed as the front of a large steam boat. Just fascinating!

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

The absolute glamour of this small concert stage stuns me. And this was but one of a few clubs and bars inside the Hollenden. It should be noted that the most popular component of the Hollenden Hotel was its world famous barbershop. Many of the world’s rich and famous, not to mention all the local politicians, all found their way to the Hollenden barbershop.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

Now if it were me I would hit the Hollenden around 7pm, get a hot shave and then head to two of the more famous clubs inside the Hollenden – the Parisian and the The Vogue Room. I found a beautiful picture of the Vogue Room as seen below.

 

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

Certainly, had a Art Deco feel. Looks as if the stage was in the back of the photo. I love the entire look of the Room and can only wish that the photo would have been in color. I also found a very unique token that was given to patrons of the Vogue Room – with the phrase “Never a dull moment.” Never, indeed. What I find most intriguing about the token (outside of “air conditioned” notation), is that you could use the token in other luxury hotels in Ohio – notably the Neil House in Columbus, the Biltmore in Dayton (I am originally from Dayton and know this building well) and the Mayflower in Akron (a stunning facility now owned by University of Akron, I believe).

Earlier in this post I mentioned that the Hotel did in fact have some colorful history. While during research on the Hollenden, I found two stories that just blew me away. The first was a story in the New York Times in the March 29th, 1905 edition that mentioned two unrelated suicides on the same day in the Hotel. Part of the text (and a link) can be seen below.

CLEVELAND, Ohio, March 28. — Henry L. Woodward, a lawyer of New York, and Charles A. Brouse, a traveling salesman of Toledo, committed suicide at the Hollenden Hotel some time during last night by shooting themselves. Woodward’s body was found at noon to-day in Room 561.

(http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A03E3DA113BE631A2575AC2A9659C946497D6CF)

The second story had a bit more of an emotional tug on the heart about a young boy who was kidnapped in Pennsylvania but his father paid the ransome and received the boy back at the Hollenden Hotel. This happened on March 23rd, 1909 and was again reported by the New York Times.

CLEVELAND, Ohio, March 22. — After an absence of four days, Willie Whitla, the eight-year-old son of J.P. Whitla, a lawyer of Sharon, Penn., who was kidnapped on Thursday last, was returned to his father at the Hollenden Hotel here shortly after 8 o’clock to-night.

 

(http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9907E3D8173EE033A25750C2A9659C946897D6CF)

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg for the Hollenden Hotel. It had a rich and long history but unfortunately was closed in 1962 and soon thereafter torn-down. Another hotel was erected on the site – the Hollenden House (which we may do a post on as well), but the Hollenden House never could capture the essence of its lineage and found itself a victim of the wrecking ball in 1989. The site is now home to the Fifth/Third Tower located on Superior and E. Sixth.