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.

 

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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.

 

 

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.

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 May Company

 

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

The beautiful picture seen above is the first May Company in Cleveland. It was actually the E. R. Hull & Dutton Company until May Company bought Hull & Dutton in 1899. Interesting note…the building you see is actually on Ontario Street. It was not until 1901 that the May Company expanded onto Euclid Avenue at the site that you would see today. The building on Euclid Avenue went through many expansions until 1931, when the Cleveland May Company store was the largest department store in the state of Ohio. Mind-boggling considering the condition of the building today.

I can only imagine the majestic view of Euclid when May held court as the King of Department Stores along Euclid. A great view of the southeast corner of Public Square can be seen here.

 

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

One can clearly see the May Company as the center piece of this photo with the Park Building to its right. Also, note the Williamson Building (with a Marshall’s Drug Store at the steet level) to the left of May Company – where now you would see the  BP Building. For my money – this view is much, much better than the one we have today. This is a gorgeous view.

The store was a leader in customer perks and amenities offering Eagle Trading Stamps, one of the first parking garages in the U.S., and a children’s indoor playground. I love the picture below that shows the women’s hat shop.

 

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

 

Look how large this department was!  Beautiful design.  There was also a very famous restaurant inside the May Company as well.

 

This photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Anyway, the department store – like Cleveland – began to have some difficulties in the late 1970′s and early 1980′s.  In 1980, May Company subleased a number of floors to a local bank. What is fascinating is that this store was still producing revenues in the $200 million range in 1983. Yet, with the redevelopment of Tower City and the Galleria in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s – the store’s revenues began to falter. This beautiful store closed in 1993.

 

Bailey’s Department Store

I have always been fascinated by the lore – the myth and legend – of the fabulous shopping that once graced the street level space along Euclid Avenue. The names alone – Higbee’s, Halle’s, May, Bond, Richman, Taylor & Sons, Sterling-Linder – conjure the thought of quality and sophisticated style. And all made their home in Cleveland. One department store in Cleveland, that was quite famous during the day, unfortunately does not inspire the same sentiment but clearly it should. It was a majestic building – almost a castle. Welcome to Bailey’s Department Stores.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Bailey Department Stores (officially incorporated as Bailey Company) opened originally as a small goods store on the corner of Ontario and Prospect in 1881. It had grown to 11 employees by 1899 and expanded its retail selections to include home furnishings and clothing. The company focused on customer service and a ever widening selection of goods and by 1903 – Bailey Company built a seven story structure (again on the corner of Ontario and Prospect) and in 1910 added a 10-story addition.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

I find the above photo fascinating as it shows the Bailey Department Store and the May Company buildings (both on Ontario) before the construction of the Terminal Tower complex and the Republic Steel Building. You can see the Midland Bank Building in the upper left portion of the photo. This building has since been torn down and is now the BP Building. The photo was taken from the banks of the Cuyahoga River. In my mind it shows a new, glistening city literally rising from its industrial base. A striking photo.

Bailey was one of the first department stores to invest in additional brach stores. In 1929, Bailey Department Stores opened an east side store at 10007 Euclid Avenue and in 1930 opened a store in Lakewood. The Lakewood Bailey store was located on Warren Rd and Detroit Avenue – and was a welcomed addition to the growing Lakewood downtown. (In fact, this building still exists and is under going a significant renovation. It is great to see old buildings being given new life.)

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

I love old school retail. I can almost feel myself walking through these aisles picking up a new shirt and tie. Who wouldn’t love to shop at this?

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Expansion continued for Bailey’s Department Stores with the opening of the City of Euclid store in 1951 and the Mayfield Heights store in 1960. Around this time the chain was sold to Century Food Market Company (I not making this up) and – surprise – the sales of the stores started to stumble. The first Bailey’s store was closed in 1961. The Lakewood store closed in 1965 (although it was part of the Nevilles Department Store chain for a period of time). And by 1968 the entire chain met its demise.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The downtown store, in particular, was a dynamic building and rested regally as mentioned on the corners of Ontario and Prospect. Unfortunately, the structure was torn down and made into a parking garage (what is it with Cleveland and parking garages). The retail level of the new garage for a time was a service station for cars but was eventually built out to be the Fat Fish Blue restaurant. But when Cleveland was king – Bailey’s was part of the royal family.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.