Friday, November 27, 2009

Cleveland Play House will likely be demolished

The Cleveland Play House, on Euclid at East 85th Street, is the only building in Cleveland area designed Philip Johnson (1906-2005). A native of Cleveland, Johnson is best known for his 1949 Glass House, a National Historic Landmark, in New Canaan, Connecticut.

The Cleveland Clinic has purchased the Cleveland Play House and surrounding land for $13 million, as reported by the Plain Dealer. The Play House and MOCA Cleveland will be vacating the space in late 2011 or summer of 2012.

While the Cleveland Clinic has not yet stated its plans for the space, but it seems likely that they will demolish the building, including the 1983 addition designed by Johnson. They haven't shown any interest in historic preservation in the past, and it seems unlikely that they will start now.

As Steven Litt pointed out, two thirds of the land involved in the purchase is not occupied by the Play House. This land could be used for whatever the Clinic plans for the site without obliterating this landmark building. Surely the Clinic could find some use for the Cleveland Play House buildings - perhaps as a conference center?

The Plain Dealer reported Clinic spokesman Eileen Sheil saying "Over the next several months, we'll study the options and see what's possible and make the best decision for the Cleveland Clinic, keeping in mind the interests of the community."

I would like to believe that the Cleveland Clinic will actually consider the interests of the community, but their past performance hasn't given me any reason to hope that this will actually happen. We need to let them know that this is an important part of the Cleveland landscape, and that we will not accept its destruction.

I encourage you to contact the president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, Delos Cosgrove, M.D., to let him know your feelings on this subject. He can be reached by phone at 216-444-2300 or by mail at:

Delos Cosgrove
Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
Mail Code H18
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195

I will be running a photo essay on the Cleveland Play House in the near future. I would like to include some interior photographs. If you have any and are willing to let us use them, please comment here or email

1 comment:

  1. A little bird told me that CPH was being considered as a site for the expansion of the Lerner College of Medicine at CCF. On a tour of the Clinic, I saw only one lecture hall for the Lerner College students. CPH would provide three lecture halls and also space for classrooms. The historic Brooks and Drury theaters with new seating would make for more intimate spaces and the Bolton would provide a better space for the big speaker events that now crowd into the ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel. Of course, it stands to reason that CCF might say that 'the ceilings are too low and the spaces too cramped for today's needs'. I always marvel at the low ceiling argument. That one was used for Breuer, too. But at CPH, that'd be a tough argument to make. Wouldn't it be refreshing to see CCF put more money into healthcare than into razing and building anew?

    I wonder if Toby Cosgrove heard Majora Carter's talk at the City Club. For someone who has banned smokers and considered not hiring people with weight problems, he should reconsider all the auto access infrastructure he's supporting and be more informed about public transport - improving air quality - when will CCF see the light on that one? No more parking lots, please.