Monday, September 27, 2010

Euclid Avenue: What We've Lost and What We Will Probably Lose

Demolition on Euclid Avenue

Cleveland's Euclid Avenue isn't the main thoroughfare that it once was. Most of the grand homes that once graced it are now long gone. However, in conjunction with the creation of the Health Line, much has been lost. More of the historic fabric will be gone, if we don't act soon, just like the historic Cobb & Bradley building, shown here.

This post is an attempt to identify what we've lost (or may lose) along Euclid Avenue. It focuses on historic buildings that have been lost in the past couple years, or, in the case of structures still standing, those that face immediate danger. Are all of these great architecture? Perhaps not - but they contribute to the streetscape and to the shape of our community.

Our journey will begin east from downtown Cleveland.

Photo by Keri Zipay

The terra-cotta-faced Cleveland Cadillac Building, at 1935 Euclid Avenue was built in 1914. Knox and Elliott were the architects. It was demolished by Cleveland State University to make way for expansion.

The Student Center at Cleveland State University, designed by Don Hisaka was also demolished, to make way for another structure serving the same purpose. Many said that the structure as it was was utterly unusable. Perhaps it was. How do you deal with a visually stunning structure when it doesn't do the job it's supposed to do?

Photo by Pavel Dyban

This group of four buildings were located on the south side of the street, immediately east of the train tracks and East 55th Street. They have all been demolished. When the photo was taken, it seems that an additional building, immediately to the east, had been recently demolished. The third building over appears, based on the lack of windows, to have been some sort of secure storage facility.

Cobb & Bradley Building
Photo by Otterphoto

The Cobb and Bradley building was on the north side of the street, between the trestle and East 57th Street. The late 19th century architectural detail is more of an earlier era than most of what was present on this part of Euclid Avenue. It was demolished in April of 2009.

Cobb & Bradley Building
Photo by Otterphoto

Immediately to the east lay this apartment building, which was demolished at the same time. It's interesting that most of the copper detail around the roof still remained when this photo was taken.

Another building was present on the north side of Euclid Avenue, between East 57th and East 59th Streets, but I have been unable to locate a photo of the structure.

Photo by Pavel Dyban

Of the three commerical / industrial buildings photographed here by Pavel Dyban in November, 2005, during his cross-country road trip, only one survives. The block looks like a single building, but is actually three. The rear part, as well as the building closer to us have both been demolished.

Photo by Pavel Dyban

The remaining structure looks somewhat naked. The fa├žade of 6611 Euclid was removed when the road was widened, to accompany a turn lane (as was required) when the Health Line was built. Another building, also now lost to history, stood adjacent to the east.

Continuing east on the north side of the street is the Dunham Tavern, the oldest structure on its original foundation in the city.

Photo by Pavel Dyban

Immediately east of the Dunham Tavern, at the northeast corner of Euclid and East 69th Street was this two-story commercial structure, which has been demolished.

Two Dollar Rare Book Store

Immediately opposite, on the south side of Euclid Avenue, sat the two story brick building that housed The Two Dollar Rare Book Store. While the building itself was relatively undistinguished, the bookstore was phenomenal. I've never seen so many great books at such reasonable prices. Chris Uram, the owner, took in the books that other book dealers wouldn't touch, because they were often in such poor condition. He offered them at bargain prices. Hundreds of them made their way to my house. I do hope that he is able to relocate.

Eton and Rugby Hall apartments

The Eton and Rugby Hall Apartments, at 7338 Euclid Avenue, were built 1925. George Allen Grieble was the architect. These buildings, with their beautiful terra cotta details have been vacant for at least 30 years. They will be demolished soon to make way for low-income senior housing.

Cleveland Play House

The Cleveland Play House was remodeled in 1983 by Philip Johnson, the architect best known for his 1949 Glass House, a National Historic Landmark, in New Canaan, Connecticut. Johnson is a Clevelander, and this is the only building by him in this city.

The structure has been purchased by the Cleveland Clinic. While they have not yet revealed their plans for the structure, I strongly suspect, given their track record, that it will be demolished.

Euclid Avenue Congregational Church

Euclid Avenue Congregational Church 9606 Euclid Avenue, was built in 1884-1887. The architects were Coburn and Barnum. It was demolished, following a fire caused by a lightning strike in the early hours of Tuesday, March 23.

Hathaway Brown II
Photo by Thom Sheridan

The original Hathaway Brown School building, on the north side of Euclid Avenue, at East 97th Street, was designed by architects Hubbell and Benes in 1905. It was demolished in January by the Cleveland Clinic.

Laurel School

The original Laurel School building had been connected to the Hathaway Brown structure, and was demolished at the same time.

Were these buildings too far gone to be saved? For some, the answer is yes. Others could have been easily reused if the owners had chosen to. There's one, however, that I believe should be saved.

It's been defaced, as I indicated above, and what remains isn't terribly architecturally distinguished. That doesn't stop it from being important.

Dunham Tavern

6611 Euclid, the tall industrial building standing here next to the Dunham Tavern, provides real context for the museum. It illustrates how the city grew up around this tavern, and the level of development threats faced by it. It hints at how close the tavern might have come to being demolished itself.

This historic structure, 6611 Euclid Avenue, was condemned on May 7. Do we want another vacant lot, or do we want something that contributes significantly to the Dunham Tavern Museum?

It's the last of the taller structures of its type along Euclid Avenue, between East 55th and East 105th Streets. Once it is gone, this context will be lost forever. The building is owned by the RTA - in other words, us. We need to make the right decision here.


  1. I've always loved the old architecture on Euclid Avenue. Each time a building goes down, and a monstrosity goes up, my heart breaks a little more.

  2. That's disheartening to see. I am a native Clevelander who now lives in Washington, D.C. I have not been in that section of town in over five years. I followed the path on Google Street View and to see the vacant lots on this once great street is such a shame.

  3. In the early 1990s I posted a series images showing the reamining residences on Euclid between 55th and University Circle and the Cleveland Resoration felt that these buildings were not significant and did not merit being saved.

    As for buildings, as you point out a "visually stunning structure when it doesn't do the job it's supposed to do?" that is the prime issue with many historical buildings.

    Buildings such as the Hiaska designed student center are less about the people who use it, and more about architect's "vision" which will have a transformative power over people. No matter how great the design, if people won't use it, or find it alienating, it makes it more likely to be knocked down in the short run.

  4. "I've always loved the old architecture on Euclid Avenue. Each time a building goes down, and a monstrosity goes up, my heart breaks a little more." Same here.

    And I just moved back from DC, having followed changes online like the other Clevelander here. DC has some great architecture, including residential architecture, but Cleveland's is special to me. It has a city feel that you don't find in the nation's capital. So I'm glad to be home, but it's disheartening to see so little was what was left of Euclid being kept. Sure, old buildings present challenges. But I used to live in Europe, and I can't imagine anyone tearing down buildings for that reason. You make do and get creative. And you make some financial commitments because the old buildings matter.

    The Dunham Tavern photo and comment remind me of one of my favorite children's books, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. It's about a little country house that has a city build up around it until it's surrounded by high rises, subways and elevated trains, all broken down and forgotten. I won't spoil the ending, which is a happy one. ;)

  5. Always sad to see buildings go, but hopefully its for the better. Thanks for preserving them with your pictures.

    Personally I would have liked to see the Cobb + Bradley building moved back from the street and preserved. But exclusive of the Clinic stuff, most of the rest was a nuisance and an eyesore that needed to go.

    I actually hope the remaining building next to Dunham tavern goes to... its too much of a sore thumb now.

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  6. As long as the American Builders' Association is one of the biggest lobbiests in the country, we will not be able to save our past. They are not interested in developing a preservation industry. Our history of being the most speculative country in the world has condemned our heritage to the auction block. Fools with little taste or sensibility laud the parade of progress, while obvious grandeur is destroyed, civic and historic cores are raped, jobs go overseas, our culture becomes more meaningless and the built environment more banal, as each year passes. It's been going on for 4 or 5 generations now, and people still can't connect the dots. Most mid-westerners typify attitudes like mine as "sissy-fag", while they fly off to expensive European destinations to get their fix of history and culture which we had right here in town 100 years ago, when Euclid Ave was described as one of the most beautiful streets in the world.

  7. ABA? Try the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Now don't get me wrong, the physicians at the Clinic are excellent and I have received some of the best outpatient care in the world there. But they are a powerhouse of destruction and re-manufacture. They represent a corporate world run by bureaucracy for the purpose of enlarging itself. Their machine-like qualities are a danger to everything in Cleveland. Sure, everything will be neat and pretty, but if you object, smoke, drink, eat red meat, and masturbate too much, you will find yourself cast out into oblivion without anyone to help you. The Clinic aims, not actually on purpose, to enslave Northeast Ohio.

  8. Hi--as a CSU student in college and law school, i commuted down Euclid from East Cleveland to East 24th street countless times between 1969 and 1982....most of the old buildings were standing, but i watched them fall into decay and disuse. sadly, now they are all gone.....

  9. The elegant Eton & Rugby Hall apartments are a sad victim of apathy; they will undoubtedly be replaced by cookie-cutter residential units. Apart from one little survivor (Dunham Tavern), midtown is a complete wasteland of empty lots and utilitarian brick boxes. There is nothing left of the neighborhood's industrial, commercial, or residential history.

  10. The structure at 6611 Euclid Avenue has been torn down!! I rode past there last week and it was just a huge pile of rubble.

  11. The Structure at 6611 Euclid was torn down to enlarge the park land for the neighboring Dunham Tavern, even after a developer came forward to make an attempt to revitalize the building for office incubator use. It was a true shame the proposed renovation was on the architects (Dimit architects) website.

  12. Hi. I'm a bit late seeing this page. I was doing a search to see if there were any photos of the building my mom used to live in when I was born. Kinda random search. I've commuted up Euclid ave for years, basically since high school (I'm 35). Thank you so much for taking these photos. Some of these buildings I'd forgotten were gone until I looked at these photos. I have a bad feeling about the Playhouse building as well. Especially since the church next door is now gone. There used to be so many churches on Euclid.