Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One of the more historically significant subdivisions in Glenville is the C.C. Baldwin Allotment. Baldwin, one of the founders of the Western Reserve Historical Society (formally, the Cleveland Library Association's Historical Department). His son is one of the founder's of Baldwin Wallace College and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Last year, I spent my time surveying a portion of the Glenville neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio.
It is a prominently residential area with one main node of commerce along E.105th Street. The neighborhood cascades along Rockefeller Park, as listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Few standing resources predate the park, and most of the buildings are from the first decade of the 20th Century. Part of the problem of my survey from last year stemmed from there being little left from this significant time period. Before the invasion of early 20th Century Cleveland Doubles, there were homesteads, barns, and light industry here. Blacksmiths and adventurous business class families.

What will we remember from the 20th Century? Will there be anything left to show the history of African Americans, who have resided in Glenville, despite the street wars of the 1960s, the urban blight of today?

1237 E.100th Street, Cleveland, Ohio
Yesterday, myself and Don Petit of the Landmarks Commission, were driving around snapping historic candid shots for the upcoming meeting this Thursday. As several resources along Superior Avenue on E.99th and E.101st Street are on the docket for potential landmark designation, we ambled down some of the streets from last year's survey.

How quickly the built environment changes.

1237 E.100th Street, Cleveland, Ohio
As we turned from Tanner Avenue onto E.100th Street, the second lot on the easterly side of the street showed a gaping hole and a staircase to nowhere.

To the north-east, Glenville Village prospered, offered entertainment amenities, like League Park and a horse race track, and boasted residential and commercial assets.

Doan's Corners (formally Doan's Settlement, then East Cleveland, then annexed to Cleveland),  located at Euclid Avenue, E.105th (formally, Doan), and E. 107th Street being one of the earliest stops in the Western Reserve, named for the surveyor Nathaniel  Doan, who built an Inn on a portion of the land he gained for his survey work. Of course, his survey work is the 1797 survey led by Moses Cleaveland, the founder of Cleveland.

History relatively so recent that trace elements exist in original paper documents housed at the Western Reserve Historical Society Archive and Library. Yet, history far enough in the past to have little weight in our contemporary lives, or does it have more impact than we realize?

I will admit, it was difficult to stroll down E.100th Street to find another resource reduced to, as the demolition contractor said, "brown rubble". While I am not a born resident of the neighborhood or have any family ties to the area, I have gained a developmental history on the area that covers multiple generations from the inception of the Western Reserve.

It is hard to be unaffected by the removal of an artifact, that to some appears a nuisance, but to the historian and preservationist an opportunity.

It is frustrating to know that people's bad investments somehow become our loss.

Also, frustrating to know the social history of mid-20th Century, Urban Renewal, and the realization that it is happening--again.

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