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.

Cool History of Cleveland – Blog Statistics (2010)

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how Cool History of Cleveland did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 15 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 53 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 36mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was November 30th with 127 views. The most popular post that day was Lost Cleveland – Book Signing Tour.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, facebook.com, linkedin.com, lmodules.com, and techczar.blog.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for lost cleveland book, cool history of cleveland, andrews folly, severance hall, and hippodrome theater cleveland.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Lost Cleveland – Book Signing Tour November 2010

2

About – Cool History of Cleveland September 2010

3

Bailey’s Department Store September 2010

4

“The Hipp” November 2010

5

The Superior Viaduct September 2010

Christmas in Cleveland

As always, I am a bit belated in getting up my homage to Cleveland’s Christmas past. This season was such a blur this year. And with the crazy publicity that Lost Cleveland received during this holiday season I don’t know if I ever actually new what the date was until Christmas Day. Anyway, I was walking down Euclid Avenue a few days past when I was struck by a few thoughts…the first being,how beautiful the decorations in Playhouse Square and the annual Festival of Lights at Public Square were this year. My second thought was – what was the Christmas Season like in years past in Cleveland? I found some very spirited photos showing what Christmas used to be like in Cleveland and they are marvelous. And next year I promise to do some more research on Christmas on Euclid Avenue – because I have a sneeky suspicion that are some great photos I did not get to uncover this year.

Hey – are you ready for a Christmas Parade?

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Where did all these people come from? This photo was taken in 1955 moments before Cleveland’s annual Christmas Parade along Euclid Avenue. This particular shot was at the Cole Shoe Store on the south side of Euclid between East Fourth and Euclid pointing towards Public Square. Very near where House of Blues would be today. The crowd is crazy large.

This photo was snapped very close to where the above photo was taken – East Fourth and Euclid albeit from a different vantage point and different year – 1966. But what a gorgeous street scape. Look at all those signs and Christmas decorations!

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The next shot is one of my favorite photos in the bunch – it was taken in 1967 under the canopy of the Sterling Linder Store (which would be on the corner of E. 13th and Euclid again looking west toward Public Square).

Photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives.

Look at all these shoppers! Crazy. Look how bright Euclid Avenue looks with the Halle Building across the street. Very exciting. Speaking of Sterling Linder – it was a Cleveland tradition to take the family to visit this gorgeous department store to view the large Christmas tree that was set up in the lobby.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

What a magnificent lobby! With the tiered floors looking down on the large Christmas tree. It is a shame that half of this store was torn down to make a surface parking lot. Just doesn’t seem fair to destroy this beautiful building for a few cars, does it? I would love for Cleveland to experience this type of rich Christmas experience in its Downtown area. But until then, we can admire the wonderland that was Christmas in Cleveland.

The Statler Hotel

I want to thank everyone for being patient with me – as you might have noticed, I haven’t being posting as much as I would like. The book tour for Lost Cleveland has been outstanding. With less than 111 first run copies left, I suspect this is an unqualified success. But the truth is I need to get back to blogging about the great and cool history of Cleveland. One of the things I find so fascinating that Cleveland is that it had so many world-famous hotels. I mean this town rocked back in the day (still does, but fifty years ago the City was twice the size in terms of population). The Statler Hotel holds a special place in my heart only because I get to see it nearly everyday as it is close to where I work and play in Downtown Cleveland. . But it also holds a very neat history.

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The Statler Hotel opened in Cleveland in October of 1912. Originally, the Hotel had 700 rooms which were later expanded to 1,000 rooms. The Statler Hotel was actually part of one of America’s first hotel chains owned by E.M. Statler. The original Statler Hotel was built in Buffalo, NY in 1907. The Buffalo version of the Statler had a number of innovations that the Cleveland Hotel later improved upon including – a bathroom in every room, a light in the closet, and offering free stationary and pens (with the Statler logo of course) to every visitor. Tame innovations by today’s standards, but revolutionary at the time. The real innovation was the cost per room – $1.50 a night – E.M. Statler was expert in bringing refinement and prestige to the middle-class of America. The Cleveland Hotel was followed by others built under the Statler name in Washington D.C., Detroit, St. Louis, New York, Hartford, Dallas and Los Angeles. Truly the first national hotel chain.

This photo provided courtesy of Cleveland Press Archives

I mean seriously, who would not want to have a good time here? And conveniently located on East 12th Street and Euclid, the Statler Hotel was perfectly located for being Cleveland’s good time. During the 1930′s the Hotel was in its Golden Age and went through a number of expansions that included a new ballroom (as seen below):

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Look at that ceiling! The expansion also provided a new Gentlemen’s Lounge and Library and a pretty interesting dining facility. There was a famous dining room in the building called the Terrace Room, unfortunately I have not found a photo of it yet. I did however find this photo of the Pompeian Room, another wild dining area. I love the open area under a glass dome and tall fountain right in the middle of the dining area. Classic. (I still cannot believe this room once existed in Cleveland. Marvelous.)

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The lobby of the hotel was a real gem. If you were to walk through the Statler today you would not be able to see the mezzanine area that was so eloquently open to the lobby.

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Here is another angle of the grand lobby area.

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Where did our elegance go, Cleveland?

In 1954, the Hilton Chain acquired the Statler Hotels – and many considered the Cleveland hotel to be the crown jewel. Who woundn’t – it was a gorgeous hotel. In early 1971 new owners decided to make part of the facility office space and the building was renamed the Cleveland Plaza. Cleveland developer Carl Milstein purchased the building in 1980 and completed the conversion of the hotel property to all office. A famous Swingos restaurant was built on the first floor (parts of it are still there). In 2001, the storied property again went through a conversion this time from office to apartments and it remains so to this day.

Great Little Review from Plain Dealer

Laura DeMarco of the Plain Dealer wrote the following little review on Lost Cleveland, my first book on Cleveland History published by History Press (www.historypress.net), “Give your loved ones the next best thing to a time-machine ride into Cleveland’s glorious past with this meticulously researched look at what used to be. ‘Lost Cleveland’ author Michael DeAloia delves into our town’s rich past in this book which features seven architectural gems. Only one is still standing: Severance Hall. A fascinating, at times sad, but thoroughly intriguing read.”

Lost Cleveland – Book Signing Tour

Hello Cleveland! I am proud to announce a number of book signings that will be coming up soon to promote my book – “Lost Cleveland: Seven Wonders of the Sixth City.” I am totally digging the great reception for the book. During the last few weeks I have been lucky to talk with a ton of people about the book and the reception has just been great. Please join me at one of the following events.

Book Singing Tour

December 4th @ Visible Voice Books – 7pm to 9pm (http://www.visiblevoicebooks.com/)

Before I sign any books I will be telling a few stories on Cleveland History. So get there early!

Twitter: @visiblevoiceCLE

December 8th @ Cleveland Press Club – 5:30pm to 7:30pm (http://www.pressclubcleveland.com)

December 18th @ Barnes & Noble – 2pm to 4pm (Chagrin Road at Eaton Center)

Online Stores to Purchase

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/376yxx2

Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/27hhubv

Borders: http://tinyurl.com/32snd3b

Buy.com: http://tinyurl.com/2ckpwae

Anyone who purchases “Lost Cleveland” gets this offer from me. I would honored to sign each and every copy purchased. Please let me know how we can connect and I will make it happen.